About the Hebrew Script

The Hebrew script is written right to left and can include diacritics to specify vowel marks, but these marks are often ommited in Modern Hebrew. In order to process Hebrew correctly, software must be able to display text from right to left and include vowe marks as needed.

Note: Modern Hebrew is sometimes called Ivrit, a form closer to the actual pronuciation of עברית "Hebrew"

Note that the Hebrew script is used for other Jewish community languages, particularly
Yiddish (which includes additional characters). See Jewish Languages.org for
details on other languages written in the Hebrew alphabet.

Fonts

Fonts by Platform

Both Microsoft and Apple provode fonts for Hebrew in their operating systems.

  • Windows – David, Miriam, Arial Unicode MS, Gisha (Vista +) include vowel marks.
  • Mac OS X – Corsiva Hebrew, New Peninim MT, Raanana, ArialHb, Lucida Grande, others
  • Very recent versions of Times New Roman, Arial and some common fonts may contain Hebrew characters with vowel marks. Older versions of these fonts may be missing vowel marks.

Freeware Fonts

Additional freeware fonts can be downloaded from the sites below. All fonts include vowel points and many include Yiddish characters.

  • Ezra SIL – Includes support for Biblical Hebrew. Based on the typography of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS).
    (Note: There is an older font "SIL Ezra" which is not Unicode compliant).
  • Cardo – Includes vowel marks and Greek
  • SBL Hebrew Font – Designed by Tiro Software for Biblical Hebrew. Keyboard utilities also available.
  • Mike Hebrew – designed with elements of calligraphy
  • Tyndale House, Cambridge

Test Sites

If you have your browser configured correctly, the Web sites below should display the correct characters. If you have difficulties, see list below for font and browser configuration instructions.

If this site is not displaying correctly, see the Browser Setup page for debugging information.

Typing Hebrew

Keyboards: Native vs. Transliterated Layout

Hebrew keyboards utilities allow users to type Hebrew characters on their computers. These utilitites come with two main layout option types. One is the native layout which is similar to a Hebrew typewritier from Israel.

The other is a transliterated (or homophonic/QWERTY) layout in which Hebrew characters are mapped to the closest English keyboard counterpart. For instance typing Latin A would be Hebrew "א", B would be Hebrew "ב", Latin L would be Hebrew "ל " and Latin M would be Hebrew "מ". This layout is often preferred by English speakers because it is easier to remember the position of the letters.

Windows

Windows only has access to the native layout, but Kansas University does offer a homophonic layout for learners.

Macintosh

A native Hebrew and QWERTY Hebrew keyboard are available in Macintosh. See the Macintosh Keyboard instructions and Hebrew Keyboard Layouts (Muhlenberg) for more information.

See also

Mobile

RTL Typing Tips

For a person new to an RTL script, typing can be a little disorienting and different from LTR scripts. The RTL page presents some helpful information including how to right align a document and work with punctuation.

Web Development

This section presents information specific to Hebrew. For general information about developing non-English Web sites, see the Encoding Tutorial or the Web Layout sections.

Encodings

Unicode (utf-8) is the preferred encoding for Hebrew, especially if the document includes vowel codes. However some other encodings may be encountered

Historical Enclodings

  • Logical with Vowel Marks: utf-8 (Unicode)
  • Logical, Consonants Only: iso-8859-8-i
  • Visual (Avoid): iso-8859-8 (Visual Hebrew), win-1255

Logical Hebrew/Unicode vs. Visual Hebrew

Logical Hebrew vs. Visual Hebrew is an older disctinction about how text was entered into a document.

In the older Visual Hebrew (Deprecated) system, text had to be entered backwards (as if they were left to right) in order to to be correctly displayed on the screen. In a Logical Hebrew system (including Unicode), letters are entered in the correct order and then correctly sequenenced from right to left.

For example, in the word (אדמ) Adam, in a logical encoding, a person would type the letters in the order 1 (מ) A/מ, 2 (ד) for D, 3 (א) for M, but the display would be RTL. In a visual encoding, a developer would need to enter 1 (א) for M, 2 (ד) for D, 3 (מ) A/מ because the text could only be layed out LTR.

Language Codes

Language Tags allow browsers and other software to process Hebrew script text more efficiently. Some major language tags are:

Selected Jewish Language Tags

  • he – Hebrew
  • hbo – Ancient/Biblical Hebrew
  • yi – Yiddish
  • ly – Ladino/Judeo-Spanish
  • bhh – Bukhori/Judeo Tajiki Persian
  • czk – Knaanic/Judeo-Czech
  • jdt – Juhari/Judeo-Tat-Persian
  • jrb – Judeo Arabic Languages
  • smp – Samaritan Hebrew
  • yej – Yevanic/Judeo-Greek

Specifying Text Direction

Some HTML editors set the direction automatically, but it can also be set manually
using the new <dir> and <bdo> attributes. See the Right-to-Left Alignment tips page for more details.

Using Unicode Escape Characters

If you wish to input a word or short phrase, you can use Unicode entity codes. See
the Hebrew Unicode Chart to view hexadecimal code points for Hebrew and other Jewish languages.

Hebrew Computing

Windows

Macintosh

Linux/Unix

Yiddish Computing

Hebrew Writing

Script Basics

Additional Fonts

Includes vowel marks, Yiddish and Biblical Hebrew

  • Ezra SIL – Based on the typography of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS).
    (Note: There is an older font "SIL Ezra" which is not Unicode compliant).
  • SBL Hebrew Font – Designed for Biblical Hebrew
  • TITUS Cyberbit
  • MPH 2B Damase – Large font with additional ancient scripts such as Aegean, Cuneiform, Coptic, and others
  • Cardo – Includes vowel marks and Greek

Web Development Tips

W3C

Tex Texin Hebrew Articles

Other Articles

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