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Keyboarding issues as related to SIL fonts – FAQ


Please note these questions relate to older, legacy fonts and technologies and not to newer, Unicode-encoded fonts or keyboards. Our current recommendation is to use the  Keyman program.

Incorrect characters appearing when typing with SIL fonts

Question: I have installed the SIL fonts, and have been trying to use them in a document. When I use the key sequences listed in the documentation, however, I don’t get any of the characters I’m supposed to. Why not? How can I get them?

Answer: In order to use the keystrokes shown in the documentation you must have  Keyman (Windows) or SILKey (Macintosh) installed and running, with the appropriate keyboard loaded in Keyman/SILKey, and the keyboard activated.

If you are using Windows 3.1, you will need to use Keyman 3.2. If you are using a later version of Windows (95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, or XP) Keyman 6 is recommended.

Please refer also to the instructions on the following pages on our website:

SIL IPA and SIL IPA93 (legacy) fonts – Download

SIL IPA and SIL IPA93 (legacy) fonts – FAQ

Using Keyman In Windows NT/2000/XP

Question: SIL fonts in combination with Keyman 3.2 do not work on Windows XP, although entering the ASCII codes does produce the desired characters.

Answer: Keyman 3.2 does not run in Windows NT, 2000, or XP. Keyman 5 or Keyman 6, which is compatible with Windows NT, 2000, and XP, is available from The Keyman keyboard files included in SIL fonts packages are for Keyman 3.2, and are not compatible with Keyman 5/6. If you wish to use Keyman 5/6 with SIL fonts, you will need new keyboards compiled for use with with Keyman 5/6. Check the  SIL fonts website for the font you are using to find a separate download of the Keyman keyboard for Keyman 5/6.

Question: The Keyman sequences for SIL IPA and SIL IPA93 fonts don’t seem to work. What should I do?

Answer: Be sure that:

  • You are using the right version of Keyman:
    • Keyman 3.2 for Windows 3.1, 95, 98, or Me
    • Keyman 5.0 or 6.0 for Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, or XP
  • Keyman is currently running (it can be set to turn on manually or automatically)
  • The appropriate keyboard file is loaded and activated:
    • IPA.KMN for the SIL IPA fonts with Keyman 3.2 (IPA.KMN is included with Keyman 3.2)
    • IPA93.KMN for the SIL IPA93 fonts with Keyman 3.2 (IPA93.KMN is included with Keyman 3.2)
    • IPA93 1.2 (FF) for the SIL IPA93 fonts with Keyman 5.0 or 6.0 (Download  here)

Otherwise, consult the on-line help within Keyman and/or IPA93KEY.HLP or IPAKEYS.HLP file.

Merging Keyman files

Question: Is there any way to easily merge Keyman files? And how do you specify from within Keyman which font Keyman sequences will be printed in?

Answer: Unfortunately there is no known way to do the first, at least not yet. As for the second question, Keyman does not determine what font will be displayed or printed by your application. Keyman merely takes your keyboard input and generates access codes to send to the application. All fonts use the same 256 access codes internally; what is displayed is determined by the font chosen. You must choose that font from within the application itself.

Keyman 5/6 Keyboards For SIL Greek Fonts

Question: I need the keyboard files for the SIL Galatia font that can be used with Keyman 6.0.

Answer: These are on the SIL Greek Font System page. The files are as follows:

  • BASEGRKX5.kmp (installable SIL Basic Greek compiled keyboard with documentation and fonts)
  • GRKTRNX5.kmp (installable SIL Greek Transliteration compiled keyboard)
  • SILGRKX5.kmp (installable SIL Greek compiled keyboard)

Save it to your hard disk, and unzip the files. Then double-click each one to install it. After Keyman is running, to select the a keyboard, left-click on the Keyman icon in the System Tray (lower right-hand portion of your screen) and select the keyboard desired.

SILKEY Keyboard Problem: “Incorrect Compiled Version”

Question: I am having trouble installing SILKey onto my iMac. I have managed to do everything up to this point:

  • Find and double-click the SILKey application icon which you installed in Step 2 of SILKey installation above.
  • Click  Install..  in the SILKey loaded Keyboards window.
  • Find and open the desired keyboard file [EzraDE or HebTrDE]......

When I do this, I get a message saying “Unable to load keyboard:incorrect compiled keyboard version”

Answer: It sounds like you have a keyboards that was compiled for an older version of SILKey.

The solution would be to open the keyboard definition file with the Weaver keyboard editor and press the  Compile  button; this will update the compiled version of the keyboard to the latest release. It should then load into SILKey without complaint.

Note: the opinions expressed in submitted contributions below do not necessarily reflect the opinions of our website.

"hans gerald hoedl", Mon, Dec 17, 2007 05:44 (EST)
space bar

I have been using SIL ENCORE to create those characters I need for displaying the Yorùbá-characters that are not featured in Doulous or Charis and that I cannot gain by adding tone-mark-accents to the e and o-characters with cedilla. With the created fonts, the ordinary characters work as well as the specially fabricated, with the exception of the spacebar (the number 32 character).

I honestly appreciate the great work that SIL is doing, because displyainmg the above-mentioned characters has been a problem for yeras to me.

Any hint of what I meigt have to change in order to get fonts including the ordinary spacebar function?

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