Keyboards for cuneiform transliteration

This page presents a collection of keyboards supporting Unicode transliterations, implementing a consistent set of input conventions across operating systems.

Custom keyboard layouts are not hard to create or install on Windows, Mac OS X or Unix's X11. However, there are some technical issues which make it impossible to create a single keyboard layout which works the same across all systems.

The design strategy adopted here makes commonly used characters easily accessible in keyboards which are adapted from the standard national keyboards. This means that for much work it will be comfortable to use the transliteration keyboard, and users can easily switch to the standard national keyboard when necessary.

Core Characters

On Windows and Mac OS X, the core characters are all reached using the comma as a prefix key (dead key); for a list, see the Unicode page.

Accented Vowels

These are usually available in various ways from the national keyboards. In addition, we define a set of fallback keyboard combinations to provide access to the accented vowels as follows:


In ATF, the correct markup for determinatives is to enclose them in curly brackets. In word-processing contexts the superscript style should be used.

The commonest ATF determinatives can be written with the following keyboard combinations:

Limited support for superscript determinatives is included in the Oracc fonts (this currently only applies to Desconsolata). This support is not intended for general purpose applications, but is provided for the creation of manuscript matrices where alignment is important and the use of a tabular layout is not an option for plain text files. These superscript characters are mostly available from the semi-colon deadkey, with a few reached from the colon deadkey.

Mac OS X Keyboards


Note that Mac OS X will sometimes 'helpfully' switch keyboards when you switch applications or even windows, so you may want to define a keyboard shortcut to select your favourite transliteration keyboard. Alternatively, if you find that you can work comfortably with the transliteration keyboard all the time, you can remove all other keyboards from your list in the 'International' settings.

Available Key Layouts

Windows Keyboards


Available Key Layouts

23 Aug 2014 osc at oracc dot org

Steve Tinney

Steve Tinney, 'Keyboards for cuneiform transliteration', Oracc: The Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus, Oracc, 2014 []

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