Troubleshooting Greek display

The support given by Windows XP for non-Latin fonts is imperfect, erratic, and full of bugs. This page describes these bugs and how to work round them.

What is supposed to happen

With a polytonic fontWindows is supposed to notice that a program is displaying a character that isn't part of the currently chosen font, and to switch fonts temporarily to a font in which that character is present. If you look very carefully at the example on the right, you can see this in action: the letters with breathings, or with accents other than the acute accent, look a little different from the others.

What can go wrong

Missing fonts

The first thing that can go wrong is that you may not have an appropriate font installed on your system. There are two fonts that include the majority of Unicode characters, including all the classical and biblical Greek letters: they are Palatino Linotype, which is installed as part of Windows XP, and Arial Unicode MS, which you can choose to install as part of an installation of Microsoft Office.

If you do not have one or other of these fonts installed, you will probably see part of the Greek text, with the specialised letters replaced by hollow squares.

Failure of the font switching mechanism

Without a polytonic fontIf Windows' built-in mechanism for font switching fails, you will also see some letters replaced by hollow squares. Exactly how many hollow squares you see will depend on the font you are currently using. The illustration on the right shows what happens if the font switching mechanism fails when you are using the Times New Roman font.

With some other fonts there may be far more hollow squares or even no Greek text at all.

What to do about it

Turn off Screen Reader mode

If you are using Universalis in its "Format for Screen Reader" mode, and you don't actually need that mode (not being blind or partially sighted), turn the mode off. This will probably improve things.

You can tell when you are in this mode because you will have a standard Windows menu at the top of the Universalis window. The command to turn Screen Reader mode off is at the bottom of the Options menu.

Make sure the right fonts are installed

Use the Fonts command in Universalis to open the font selection window. In Screen Reader mode, the Fonts command is in the Options menu. In normal mode, click on the downward-pointing arrow at the top left (or, equivalently, press F2) and select "Fonts" from the menu that appears.

Look for Palatino Linotype and Arial Unicode MS in the list of available fonts. If neither of them is present, you will have to find and install a suitable Unicode font. This is a Windows activity and outside the scope of the advice we can provide.

Choose an appropriate font directly

If either Palatino Linotype or Arial Unicode MS is present, select one of them directly. Windows will then have no need to switch fonts at all, and your display should look correct.

If you have both these fonts installed, try them both and choose the one you like best.