Gentium for OCHRE

By Miller Prosser, February 2015

While the Unicode consortium has provided much needed stability and consistency in the use of fonts and character codes, it is still rather difficult to find a single font that has a pleasing appearance and contains all the necessary character blocks and individual characters needed for the representation of every language. In our work with the transliteration of ancient languages, we have found Gentium to be a useful font. However, the version of Gentium provided by SIL lacks a few key Unicode characters. Gentium is distributed under an open source license that permits modification and distribution. We have chosen to add a few missing characters and modify the appearance of a few characters.

Added characters
Character name

Unicode point


Double oblique hyphen


Commonly used in transliteration of Hittite, also called the fraktur hyphen
Egyptian double aleph


Transliteration of Ancient Egyptian double aleph
Top left half bracket


Indicates the beginning of partial damage
Top right half bracket


Indicated the end of partial damage
Cuneiform sign U


Winkelhaken -- used in the Chicago Hittite Dictionary
Cuneiform punctuation sign vertical colon


Glossenkeil -- used in the Chicago Hittite Dictionary
(n.B. The version of Gentium currently in use places the two cuneiform signs in the private use area, a hold over from before the establishing of the Unicode cuneiform blocks. Even now, very few fonts support the two cuneiform Unicode blocks. As the world begins to adopt these blocks, our intention is to update our version of Gentium to reflect the correct Unicode points.)

Modified characters
Character name

Unicode point


Modifier letter right half ring



Semitic aleph -- the standard version of this character is very small and hard to read.
Modifier letter left half ring



Semitic ayin -- the standard version of this character is very small and hard to read.
Combining half ring above


Used for three Ugaritic aleph characters. Shown here above a. The size and position of this combining character was not satisfying.
We increased the size of the ring and shifted the position slightly right for better alignment.
Download our customized version of Gentium:

The OCHRE Data Service has created custom keyboard layouts for Macintosh to help transliterate both Hittite and Demotic texts. You can download these keyboard layouts here. They are appropriate for use with any Unicode font, but work best with the customized version of Gentium because it contains all the relevant characters.



Instructions for installing these keyboards can be found HERE.