1. What Is Unicode?:

  • It is the international standard whose goal is to specify a code matching every character needed by every written human language to a single code point (integer). Unicode Consortium ( - a non-profit organization founded to develop, extend and promote use of the Unicode Standard - specifies the representation of text in modern software products and standards.

    Unicode UTF-8 is mainly used on websites on the internet to render code text which needs a connection like broadband in order to view the website well.

  • It is the international standard that includes support for all major scripts of the World and is adopted by all current major computer operating systems (OS). This solves a major problem for creators of texts, as it is now possible to fully transcribe texts in multiple languages without requiring ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) transliterations, special fonts or browsing software. Enabling it also takes care of both left-to-right and right-to-left scripts.
  • Unicode has become an industry standard. Microsoft software uses Unicode at its core. Hence, whether we realize it or not, we are using Unicode already!
  • Indian (Indic) languages: it provides support for many Indic scripts including Gurmukhi.

2. What are advantages of using Unicode for Gurmukhi?:

With a Unicode compatible computer system you can:

  • Search the entire web in Gurmukhi as you can do now for English. Major search engines already support Unicode Gurmukhi.
  • Create programs in Gurmukhi.
  • Have your web page titles and text in Gurmukhi.
  • If you have a Unicode Gurmukhi keyboard installed on your computer, you may create the "message" of your email to us in Gurmukhi (in conjunction with the "Contact Us" feature of our website).
  • Also, if you have a Unicode Gurmukhi keyboard installed on your computer, you may create your "message" while using our "Tell-A-Friend" feature provided the computer of your friend you are sending the message to is Unicode compatible, otherwise his/her browser will not display it correctly.
  • Sort and organize data on your entire computer with ease.
  • Exchange data with other users without having to worry about specific fonts, confusion or data loss; and avoid the hassles of upper-case lower-case and spacing problems that happen when many available non-Unicode Gurmukhi fonts are used. For example, if a Chinese guy in China opens a Gurmukhi document, it will open it as Gurmukhi document and not as Chinese.
  • Name files and folders using Gurmukhi.
  • Documents and web-pages made with Unicode text, when viewed with an appropriate web-browser on a computer with support for Unicode, will always be viewed in the right script even if the font in which web-pages are made is not installed into the system (just as English text is always English, even if the font in which it is made is missing).
  • You can search in Gurmukhi in search engines; and you can chat by typing in Gurmukhi.
  • You can name files and folders on your computer in Gurmukhi ...

3. What are disadvantages of using Unicode for Gurmukhi?:

Although Unicode is a good solution for Gurmukhi, some minor disadvantages are as follows:

  • People with older computers may not take full advantage of this new international standard.
  • Not all features of Gurmukhi (particularly the older Gurmukhi used in the Bani) can be represented yet. However, this is not a problem for modern Punjabi.
  • Using Unicode Gurmukhi requires some readjustment in the way it is approached in comparison to font-based Gurmukhi. For example, you may have to use a different keyboard layout.

4. Experience With Mac and MS Windows (Vista and XP):

Our experience on our personal computers having Windows Vista and XP using both IE (v6, v7 and v8) browser and the Fire Fox (v3) browser and Mac with Safari is that they are already compatible with the UNICODE. That is, they display Gurmukhi fonts correctly. Therefore, we did not need to do anything!
  • Thus, Mac and Microsoft Windows XP and Vista seem to have built in full support for Gurmukhi text entry and display (and other Indic scripts). Other current OS are doing the same.
  • Available Unicode Gurmukhi Fonts In Microsoft Windows XP and Vista:
    • Raavi font.
    • Aril-Unicode MS font is usually bundled with some software and has most characters of the world, including Gurmukhi characters and very good Hindi characters.
    • Tahoma is another font from Microsoft that also has Unicode Indic scripts including Gurmukhi and Devanagari.

5. To Read Unicode Text:

  • To read Unicode text, a user needs to have the correct Unicode font installed. The major current OS such as Apple, Microsoft and others offer support for Unicode. They may or may not cover every character. But fortunately many freeware fonts are available.
  • There is an IME (Input Method Editor) comes with windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista, etc., and there are many third party products.
  • Activation: If the Indic Unicode fonts are not automatically activated in a given computer's OS, the user has to do that.

6. Test This First:

Before manually attempting to set up Unicode support on your computer, test and see if your browser can display the following phrase correctly in Gurmukhi: ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
If your browser can display the above phrase encoded in UNICODE (UTF-8) properly in Gurmukhi, you may not need to do anything, that is, your computer's OS is already configured for Unicode. If it does not seem correct to you:

  • verify that you are using a browser that supports Unicode.
  • insure that your browser is using UTF-8 encoding to view the data.
  • verify you are using fonts that supports Unicode and particularly, the characters used in the example.
  • Activation: If the Indic Unicode fonts are not automatically activated in a given computer, then the user has to do that manually.

7. Manually Setting up Unicode:

Although it's possible to enable Unicode support on some OS, but it is our understanding that this may quite be a tricky process on some relatively older OS. Some Web browsers can handle UTF-8, some can't. And those that can might not have a sufficiently populated font to work with (some browsers might pick glyphs dynamically from multiple fonts; Netscape 6 seems to do this). Browsers are Unicode-compliant to varying degrees. From one version of a browser to the next compliance can change, and different versions of an operating system will also affect the ability to display Unicode properly. If not already selected by your browser, you may need to manually select 'Unicode (UTF-8)':

  • Internet Explorer, you can select 'View | Encoding', and 'Unicode (UTF-8)'.
  • Under Netscape/Fire Fox, this is 'View | Character Encoding'.
  • Fire Fox up to version 2.0 probably does not support Indic script rendering. For other browsers, try searching the internet or their respective websites. Internet search on this topic can find tremendous amount of information, which you might find helpful in configuring your system for Unicode compatibility.
  • Activation: If the Indic Unicode fonts are not automatically activated in your computer, then you need to do that.

8. Viewing Indic (Gurmukhi, etc.) Text:

  • In MS Windows XP

    • Go to Start > Control Panel.
    • If you are in "Category View" select the icon that says "Date, Time, Language and Regional Options" and then select Regional and Language Options".
    • If you are in Classic View select the icon that says "Regional and Language Options".
    • Select the "Languages" tab and make sure you select the option saying "Install files for complex script and right-to-left languages (including Thai)". A confirmation message should now appear - press "OK" on this confirmation message.
    • Allow the OS to install necessary files from the Windows XP CD and then reboot if prompted.
  • In Mac OS X:

    Probably you don't need to do anything to enable viewing of Indic text as long as you use Safari or most other Cocoa applications, which fully support rearrangement and substitution for Apple Advanced Typography (AAT) fonts. Fire Fox up to version 2.0 probably does not support Indic script rendering. Opera provides some support.

9. Inputting Indic (Gurmukhi, etc.) Text

  • In MS Windows XP:

Windows XP have inbuilt In Script Keyboards for most of the Indian languages. You can add them via Control Panel. You must follow the steps described in the foregoing item "Viewing Indic (Gurmukhi, etc.) Text In Win XP " before you perform the remaining steps.
  • In the "Regional and Language Options", click the "Languages" tab.
  • Click on the "Details" tab.
  • Click the "Add" button to add a keyboard for your particular language.
  • In the drop-down box, select your required Indian language.
  • Make sure the check box labeled "Keyboard layout/IME" is selected and ensure you select an appropriate keyboard.
  • Now select "OK" to save changes.

You can use the combination ALT + SHIFT to switch between different keyboard layouts (e.g. from a UK Keyboard to Gurmukhi and vice-versa). If you want a language bar, you can select it by pressing the "Language Bar..." button on the "Text Services and Input Languages" dialog and then selecting "Show the language bar on my desktop". The language bar enables you to visually select the keyboard layout you are using. 

  • In Mac OS X:

Specific keyboard layouts can be enabled in System Preferences, in the International pane. Switching among enabled keyboard layouts is done through the input menu in the upper right corner of the screen. The input menu appears as an icon indicating the current input method or keyboard layout — often a flag identified with the country, language, or script. Specific instructions are available from the "Help" menu (search for "Writing text in other languages").

  • Support on Mozilla Fire Fox:

Indic IME, a plugin for Fire Fox 1.0+ facilitates typing in Indian languages in web pages. It is easy to install and works on platforms where Fire Fox or other Mozilla-based browsers are running.

  • Windows 2000/XP/2003

  • Start->all programs ->Control Panel (or start -> settings -> Control Panel)
  • Click the regional and language option (if not first date, time and regional and language options then to regional and language option)
  • Under the language tab tick "Install files for complex scripts for....." for Windows XP/2003 and for Windows 2000 tick the indic language.
  • Click OK.
  • setup may ask for a cd. Insert the appropriate windows 2000/XP/2003 cd (even evaluation. One guy told that even german version is working.)
  • Restart the system.
  • Windows 95, 98 and ME

It is not possible to enable system-wide support for Unicode Gurmukhi on Windows 95, 98 and ME. You may still be able to view web pages in Unicode Gurmukhi on Windows 98 and ME by downloading and installing Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 ...

10. Unicode Fonts and Keyboards:

As noted earlier, our experience on our personal computers having Mac and Windows Vista and XP using both IE (v6/v7/v8) browsers and the Fire Fox (v3) browser is that they are already compatible with the UNICODE. That is, they display Gurmukhi font correctly. No problem whatsoever. Therefore, we did not have to do anything. Mac, Vista and XP come with Unicode fonts already installed on them. For example:
Raavi - a Gurmukhi Unicode font.
Arial Unicode MS - An English Unicode font

If your computer does not, then you need to install them on your computer. Fortunately many freeware fonts are available on the internet.

Installing Unicode Gurmukhi (or any other language) keyboards are also relatively easy. Again, as mentioned above, the internet has ample information, sources and help about all this. For example:

If you have already installed the Gurmukhi Keyboard Layout on your computer, you can switch to Gurmukhi by a simple click of Alt-Shift. Once in the Punjabi language mode, you can type in Gurmukhi anywhere, may it be chat or search at Yahoo, Google or any other website!

11. Setting Your Computer's Browser for Unicode Format:

On your browser do you see funny characters? Most likely the problem is with your browser. To remove funny characters displayed on the pages, change the settings of code view to UTF8 format in your browser (Unicode).

In your browser’s menu, go to View = > Encoding (or Character Encoding, etc.) = > Unicode (UTF-8).

12. Disclaimer:

The foregoing information / details are meant as a starting point. For more information / details, consult your computer's and browser's help manual, or an expert. These details are not guaranteed to work on your computer, and are not guaranteed not to inhibit your browser's ability to show other sites. Keep track of what your settings are BEFORE you make changes so it will be easier to change them back if necessary. To do this, you may want to take screen shots (pictures) of settings. Also, you may want to do internet search, where you can find a vast reservoir of useful information on this topic.

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