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SIL IPA93 Data Conversion

Lorna A. Priest, 2009-02-16

Question: I have MS Word documents which use your SIL IPA93 fonts, but I want to begin using Unicode. Can you tell me how to convert my data to Unicode?

Answer: As you have implied, documents which were created (encoded) with legacy fonts are not compatible with Unicode fonts. You not only need to use a Unicode font, you will need to convert your data to Unicode.

Since you have MS Word documents it might be a straightforward problem. These instructions should work if you have MS Word 2003:

  • Download and install Doulos SIL — Download or Charis SIL — Download.
  • Download and install SILConverters 4.0 (follow the installation instructions on that page).
    • When you get to the SIL Converters Install Options dialog box:
      • Under Conversion Maps and Tables:
        • Make sure SIL IPA93<>UNICODE is selected. If you plan to convert SIL-IPA-1990 data to Unicode you should also make sure SIL-IPA-1990<>UNICODE is selected.
        • Click  Apply 
      • Continue on with the installation.
  • If multiple users on the machine want to use the document template (found in: (C:Documents and Settings<user>Application DataMicrosoftTemplates), you need to manually move the .DOT files to some common location and each user will need to browse for them individually in Tools / Templates and Add-Ins. If you want one or more of these document templates to start up automatically when Word starts, move them either to the current user’s Startup folder (i.e. C:Documents and Settings<user>Application DataMicrosoftWordSTARTUP). For all users, put it in the global startup folder (e.g. C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOFFICE11STARTUP).
  • Open your document in MS Word
  • If you did not load the template in the manner specified above, you should follow these steps to activate the Conversion Macro Template:
    • Click Tools / Templates and Add-ins...
    • Click the  Add  button to browse for the Data Conversion Macro dot file (in, C:Documents and SettingsyourloginnameApplication DataMicrosoftTemplates by default).
    • Click  OK  to return to Word.
  • Go to Tools / Data Conversion or in Word 2007 Add-Ins / Data Conversion

SIL Converters Word Macro

  • Under Conversion table details, click on  Select... 
    • Under Select Converter, select SIL IPA93<>UNICODE
    • Select  OK 
  • If you have footnotes, choose Include footnotes
  • Under Scope of change, select A specific regular font:
    • In the pull-down menu choose SILDoulos IPA93
  • Under Target Data choose Apply specific font:
  • Select  OK 
  • Be patient. With some documents the conversion process can take awhile. Do not assume that Word, or your computer, has hung.
  • Follow these same instructions for converting your IPA-1990 (SILDoulosIPA font) data. However, instead of selecting the SIL IPA93<>UNICODE converter, you should select the SIL-IPA-1990<>UNICODE converter.

We hope your data will have converted correctly! These instructions are for converting your data in one document. Once you have tried it for one document and understand the concepts, you might want to use the Bulk Word Document Converter. (Start / Programs / SIL Converters / Bulk Word Document Converter) to do all your documents in one go. At this point we do not have step-by-step instructions, but basically you select your documents, choose your fonts, converter and font to apply.

If you do not have MS Word 2003 and want to try an older version of SIL Converters 2.5, you can try: SILConverters — Obsolete version. However, this version does not always work correctly and we are not providing any support for this product.


Converting data to Unicode is not always straightforward and we do not have all the answers.

Question: I have plain text files which use your SIL IPA93 fonts, but I want to begin using Unicode. Can you tell me how to convert my data to Unicode?


  • If you have not already installed SILConverters 4.0, follow the instructions above.
  • Click on Start / Programs / SIL Converters / TECkit / DropTEC
  • In Windows Explorer, navigate to C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataSILSILConverters30MapsTables
  • From Windows Explorer, drag the compiled mapping file silipa93.tec to the box at the top labeled “Mapping file:”. (Alternatively, you can use the adjacent  Browse  button and navigate to the file.)
  • From Explorer, drag your text file to the box on the left labeled “Legacy text file:” (alternatively, you can use the adjacent  Browse  button and navigate to the file). When you have loaded the file, DropTEC prompts you for a destination file. Click  Save  and accept the default name.
  • Once you supply the name, the file is created, so if you want to select a different “Unicode output form”, you'll need to do it before specifying the input file (and giving the name for the output file).
  • Click on File / Exit of the “DropTEC” window to close the program.
  • You should have a new Unicode-encoded text file.

Question: I have Standard Format Marker (sfm) text files and want to convert only one or two of the sf markers from an SIL IPA93 encoding to Unicode. Can I do that?

Answer: the Bulk SFM Converter will easily handle doing this.

  • If you have not already installed SILConverters 4.0, follow the instructions above.
  • Click on Start / Programs / SIL Converters / Bulk SFM Converter
  • Click on File / Open SFM Documents / Non-Unicode (Legacy)
  • Select your files and click on  Open 
  • For each SFM which uses the IPA93 fonts, click on Click here to define a converter
  • Select  SIL IPA93<>UNICODE  (note that you may select a different converter for each SFM — if needed)
  • Click on  OK 
  • If you wish to preview whether the converter will work or not, you may select appropriate fonts
    • For each SFM which uses the IPA93 fonts
      • Right-click on Example Data and choose SILDoulos IPA93
      • Right-click on Example Results and choose Doulos SIL (or another appropriate Unicode font)
  • If the example results look right, move on to the next step
  • Click on File / Convert and Save SFM Documents / Unicode (UTF-8)
  • Verify that the file name and location are appropriate and click on  Save 

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