Beta Code Encoding

Beta Code is a method of representing, using only ASCII characters, characters and formatting found in ancient Greek texts (and other ancient languages). Its aim is to be not merely a romanization of the Greek alphabet, but to represent faithfully a wide variety of source texts including formatting as well as rare or idiosyncratic characters.

Beta Code was developed by David W. Packard in the late 1970s and adopted by Thesaurus Linguae Graecae in 1981. It has become the standard for encoding polytonic Greek and has also been used by a number of other projects such as the Perseus Project (which encodes all its Ancient Greek texts using Beta code), the Packard Humanities Institute, the Duke collection of Documentary Papyri, and the Greek Epigraphy Project at Cornell and Ohio State University. Beta Code can be easily converted to a variety of systems for display, most notably the Unicode. Systems such as Sophokeys for typing Beta Code but producing Greek glyphs directly in the entered text (rather than when it is typeset or otherwise output) are increasingly popular, with the result that Beta Code, with some variations, has become a sort of universal default keymap for text entry in polytonic Greek.

AncientGreek Beta Code conversion Macros ^

I suggest saving your work before running either of these macros on a document (no text selection), so that reverting (Menu File / Reload) to it is possible, as Undoing may not be of much help, since a letter by letter substitution will take place resulting in way too many undo steps.

• BetaCodeToUnicode Macro

This macro converts text written in Unicode (normal text edited in LibreOffice / OpenOffice) to Beta Code.

If this macro is executed without selecting any text, a warning message similar to the one shown in the following picture will appear.

Warning message on Windows 8.1

• UnicodeToBetaCode Macro

This macro converts text written in Beta Code to Unicode (normal text that can be edited in LibreOffice / OpenOffice).

If Unicode to Beta Code conversion is requested, the message dialog will also provide the possibility to alter Beta Code conversion options:

Warning message with Beta Code options on Windows 8.1

Beta Code options ^

When converting text to Beta Code the following options are available:

  1. Capital Letters Only (TLG)
    Enabling this option will make the converter produce capital ASCII characters, complying to TLG (Thesaurus Linguae Graecae). Otherwise, small ASCII characters will be used.
  2. Use simple sigma
    This option has to do with the conversion of the Final Sigma (ς) and the Lunate Sigma Symbol (c), when converting text to Beta Code. Both of these letters can be converted to "S", but according to the The TLG® Beta Code Manual 2013, the Final Sigma (ς) can also be converted to "S2" and the Lunate Sigma Symbol (c) to "S3" ("*S3" for capital). So, when this option is enabled, the simple conversion ("S") will be used; if it's disabled, the complex one will be used ("S2" and "S3" respectively).
  3. Simplify stand-alone diacritics
    Enabling this option will vastly increase the readability of raw Beta Code encoded text. All stand-alone diacritics will be encoded using their simple form; for example, Smooth breathing (psili), which is often used as an apostrophe too, would normally be converted to "%30", so the phrase "ἀλλ ὦ φίλη Λάκαινα" would become "A)LL%30 W)= FI/LH *LA/KAINA". When this option is enabled, this would become "A)LL) W)= FI/LH *LA/KAINA".

The values set using this dialog will be valid for the current session only. If you want to permanently set these parameters, please use AncientGreek Configuration dialog.

Using fullwidth characters ^

If the document (or selection) contains ASCII characters (English text), they will automatically be converted to the "fullwidth / halfwidth" characters, when text conversion from Unicode to Beta Code is performed.

Beta Code implementation ^

This implementation does not realize the complete Beta Code "charset", as described in The TLG® Beta Code Manual 2013, but is limited to the following:

Greek Letter ASCII Character Greek Letter ASCII Character
Alpha A Nu N
Beta B Xi C
Gamma G Omicron O
Delta D Pi P
Epsilon E Rho R
Zeta Z Sigma S (S1)
Eta H Tau T
Theta Q Upsilon U
Iota I Phi F
Kappa K Chi X
Lambda L Psi Y
Mu M Omega W
Smooth breathing (᾿)         ) Period (.) .
Rough breathing () ( Comma (,) ,
Acute () / Apostrophe / Right (')
Single Quotation Mark
Grave () \ Greek Middle Dot (·) :
Circumflex () = Greek Question Mark (;) ;
Iota subscript () | Hyphen () -
Diaeresis (¨) + Em Dash () _
Stand-alone Diacritics
Acute ()     / *
Grave ()     \ *
Circumflex (~)     = *
Iota Subscript ()     |*
Diaeresis (¨)     + * Diaeresis
  and Acute (΅)    
   and Grave ()    
\+* Diaeresis
  and Circumflex ()    
Smooth breathing (᾿)         ) *
Rough breathing () ( *
Smooth breathing
  with Acute ()    
)/ *
Rough breathing
  with Acute ()    
(/ *
Smooth breathing
  with Grave ()    
)\ *
Rough breathing
  with Grave ()    
(\ *
Smooth breathing
  with Circumflex ()    
)= *
Rough breathing
  with Circumflex ()    
(= *
  • * Combination may not be valid under TLG. Added for convenience.
  • When multiple combinations exist for a single code-point, converting to Beta Code will result to the colored combination, unless the configuration option "Simplify stand-alone diacritics" is enabled.
Extra characters
Greek Letter Digamma (Ϝ) *V Greek Small Letter
Digamma (ϝ)
Greek Small Letter
Final Sigma (ς)
S (S2) (j) - -
Greek Capital Lunate
Sigma Symbol (C)
*S3 (#570) Greek Lunate Sigma
Symbol (c)
# characters (Additional Characters)
Greek Letter Koppa (Ϟ) *#1 Greek Small Letter
Koppa (ϟ)
Greek Letter Stigma (Ϛ) *#2 Greek Small Letter
Stigma (ϛ)
Greek Letter Archaic
Koppa (Ϙ)
*#3 Greek Small Letter
Archaic Koppa (ϙ)
Greek Letter Sampi (Ϡ) *#5 Greek Small Letter
Sampi (ϡ)
Greek Capital Reversed
Lunate Sigma
Symbol (Ͻ)
#10 Em Dash () _
Greek Capital Reversed
Dotted Lunate Sigma
Symbol (Ͽ)
#11 Greek Capital Dotted
Lunate Sigma
Symbol (Ͼ)
Greater-Than Sign (>) #15 Less-Than Sign (<) #18
Double Dagger () #13 Figure Dash () #19
Greek Letter Rho with
Stroke Symbol (ϼ)
#128 Greek Numeral Sign
Keraia (ʹ)
Chi-Rho () #322
Cross of Jerusalem () #556
Greek Capital Letter
San (Ϻ)
*#711 Greek Small Letter
San (ϻ)
Greek Capital Archaic
Letter Heta (Ͱ)
*#400 Greek Small Archaic
Letter Heta (ͱ)
Greek Capital Letter    
Pamphylian Digamma (𝈋)
*#928 Greek Small Letter    
Pamphylian Digamma (ͷ)
Commercial At (@) #1220 Dollar Sign ($) #1219
When multiple combinations exist for a single code-point, converting to Beta Code will result to the colored combination.
" characters (Quotation Marks)
Left Low Double
Quotation Mark ()
"1 Right High Double
Quotation Mark ()
Left Low Single
Quotation Mark ()
"4 Right High Single
Quotation Mark ()
[ characters (Brackets)
Left Square Bracket ([) [ Right Square Bracket (]) ]
Left Parenthesis (() [1 Right Parenthesis ()) ]1
Angle Brackets ()
[2 Right-Pointing
Angle Brackets ()
Left Curly Bracket ({) [3 Right Curly Bracket (}) ]3
Left White Square
Bracket ()
[4 Right White Square
Bracket ()
Left Low
Corner Bracket ()
[5 Right Low
Corner Bracket ()
Left High
Corner Bracket ()
[6 Right High
Corner Bracket ()
Left High
Corner Bracket ()
[7 Right Low
Corner Bracket ()
Left Low
Corner Bracket ()
[8 Right High
Corner Bracket ()
Left Double
Angle Bracket («)
[18 Right Double
Angle Bracket (»)
% characters (Additional Punctuation and Characters)
Question Mark (?) %1 Asterisk (*) %2
Slash (/) %3 Exclamation Mark (!) %4
Long Vertical Bar (|) %5 Equals Sign (=) %6
Plus Sign (+) %7 Percent Sign (%) %8
Ampersand (&) %9 Colon (:) %10
Double Dagger () %13 Section Sign (§) %14
En Dash () %19 Latin Semicolon (;) %100
Hash Sign (#) %101 Backslash (\) %103
Circumflex Accent (^) %104 Tilde (~) %107
Plus or Minus (±) %108 Koronis () %172
Perispomeni ()
%176 Dagger () %

Uppercase Letters ^

Diacritics ^

Note ^



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