Microsoft Word keyboard locations

I'm working on a custom font and this client wants a PDF document which shows all the glyphs that are available in the font and the (MS Word) keyboard positions they're under. The font has a very limited character set so I could put some glyphs in standard Latin language boxes like à, ï, ó, etc.
But I also have some handmade ligatures that are not available through the standard alphabet keys. Can Word users reach these with their keyboards?

The client wants to deliver this PDF as a service to their partners, who will use the font. Does anyone have some good documentation about all the glyph locations on the keyboard? I'd like to know what key combinations the user has to enter to get the designated glyph.

Thanks for your help,


  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    Keyboards input characters, not glyphs. Physical keyboards can be mapped to any number of software keyboards, to enable entry of characters from multiple languages. So the questions you are asking do not make any sense without first identifying the keyboard layout to be used, the characters that it will input, and the mapping from those characters to glyphs that may be subsequently managed via OpenType Layout features.

    A custom font may require a custom keyboard layout. If you want to use a keyboard to input non-standard glyphs, I recommend having those glyphs encoded using Private Use Area codepoints, and to provide your clients with a custom keyboard driver (easy to make for Windows with MSKLC). This is a cleaner mechanism than hijacking codepoints of diacritic characters.
  • Sorry, I meant characters of course. ;-)
    I have the feeling we're making it way to difficult. I don't need or want to code a custom keyboard layout! I'm 'merely' looking for documentation where the characters are located and which key combinations are required to enter those characters. Like I said, I need to make an instruction PDF so I need an overview of the keyboards. I can even decide where to put characters, because I have plenty of room. I can easily position ligatures or alternatives on standard layout positions.
    So I was hoping someone might have made something similar that I could learn from.

  • kupferskupfers Posts: 259
    edited January 2014
    The keyboard layout is not depending on the application but on the language and operating system. There should be plenty of information to be found if you know what keybord layout / language they are using, and if for Windows or Mac. Check your keyboard settings on your computer for instance (pop-out window with keyboard layout on Mac e.g.), or even your font editor can display the keyboard combination in the overview.
  • I'll just note that the most recent versions of Word do support arbitrary OpenType ligatures. These have to be enabled by the user, but they do work.

    Personally, I'll do the kind of "bogus encoding" approach for a symbol font when the symbols don't have real-world codepoints. After all, the "text" that uses those symbols is non-alphabetic and will never work across other fonts, or work with spell-check or the like.

    BUT, I'd put some effort into educating the client about how ligatures are supposed to work and how to make them work in Word, before letting them have a font with ligatures put onto codepoints normally used for accented letters.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    Rene, what Indra says is well-stated and important to understand. There is no single keyboard. So you need to know what keyboard layout or layouts your client is using before you can prepare the documentation they request. Then you can refer to the MSDN keyboard layouts.
  • And for your needs, you might want to combine your custom font with a custom keyboard using the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator at the end of John's link.
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