Wordprocessing Solutions

A very common question in the fan e-mail I receive deals with Cyrillic text wordprocessing, conversion between different standards of Cyrillic encoding and cross-platform solutions. I will try to address those subjects briefly.

Macintosh-only Wordprocessing

To work with Russian text on a Mac, you will need 2 things - Cyrillic fonts and corresponding keyboard layouts. I have prepared a summary table (below) of the commonly available fonts and layouts on the Internet.

Cyrillic fonts come in at least 4 different flavors (standards): Apple Standard Cyrillic (ASC) - obviously, a Macintosh-native standard, KOI8 - the most popular one, pioneered on UNIX, CodePage 1251 - MS Windows standard and CodePage 866 (Alternative) - MS-DOS standard.

If you're not planning to transfer your work from Mac to, say, an IBM-compatible computer for any reason, I'd recommend to stick with Apple Standard Cyrillic fonts.

Keyboard layout you need to use has to be of the same flavor (standard) as the font you're using. For example, if you're using an Apple Standard Cyrillic font, you must be using an Apple Standard Cyrillic keyboard layout. This is key concept, be sure you understand this fully.

How do you use a keyboard layout? To type in Russian in your favorite wordprocessor, you must select (1) a Cyrillic font and (2) a corresponding keyboard layout before you start typing.

What you need to know to use the Table below:

ASC KOI8 1251 866
ASC go to
ER Architect download download download download
ER Bukinist download download download download
ER Kurier download download download download
ER Univers download download download download
Nevsky go to
MacAlternativa download
Phonetic go to go to download
Typewriter go to* go to

ASC - Apple Standard Cyrillic
1251 - CodePage 1251, MS Windows Cyrillic encoding
866 - CodePage 866, MS-DOS (Alternative) Cyrillic encoding
* - the Russian script contains a keyboard layout

CREDITS - Apple Standard Cyrillic fonts and Russian Script are part of Russian System 7.0.1 by Apple Computer, Inc. ER series of fonts was created by Gavin Helf and adapted for the Macintosh by Zenon M. Feszczak and L. Jake Jacobson . MacAlternativa font and corresponding keyboard layouts is by L. Jake Jacobson .

If you need a refresher on how to install fonts and/or keyboard layouts on your Mac, here it is.

Cross-platform Solutions

This is not as simple as the one above, but here we go. I'll address 2 things here - (1) general advice on working on both Mac and IBM-compatible computers and (2) software to facilitate conversion of Cyrillic text from one encoding (flavor) to another.

General advice is easy to give, but it's cheap! Being that the "other" computer you'll be interested in is likely an IBM-compatible running Windows of some sort; and further, being that CodePage 1251 is the Cyrillic encoding used in Windows; and even further, being that CP1251 fonts are available for the Mac as well (see the Table above), the advice is - just use CP1251 fonts on both your Mac and your IBM-compatible, and you'll be fine. Note, however, that there aren't any free- or shareware phonetic CP1251 keyboard layouts for the Mac - anyone out there willing to remedy this shortcoming - let me know.

Contributed by Stan Erickson:
Two versions of Microsoft Word [PC vs. Mac] use some of the higher order characters to represent some internal settings, for example, tables, formatting, whatever. These, in at least one of the two, interfere with the characters used for the Russian alphabet. I have gotten some confirmation of that from another source, who wrote that he saves his Word files as RTF, i.e., text format, and then runs them in like that to someone else's program. This apparently eliminates the character table conflicts.

Contributed by Andrew M. Drozd of U Alabama's Russification page:
When you have created your file using Cyrillic on a Mac, save it as RTF (also known as interchange format). If you are using MS Word, the file will remain open. Go to the very first line of the file, near the very beginning of the line, and look for the word "mac". Replace "mac" with "ansi" and save the document again. Put it on a DOS disk and you can call it up on a PC with all your formatting and Cyrillic text undamaged. (You may have to choose "Select All" and then choose a Cyrillic font.) The process works in reverse on a PC to Mac exchange: look for "ansi" and replace it with "mac".

The ER series of fonts for your Windows is available for downloading to your IBM-compatible computer. Keyboard drivers of interest might be:

Source of info: BRAMA Ukrainian Gateway.

While we are on the subject of fonts, let me point out that it is possible to use the TrueType fonts on both the Mac and Windows machines and, further, it is possible to convert the TrueType fonts from one platform to another, so that if you have a Windows .ttf font, for example, you can convert it into a Macintosh TrueType font. There are a couple of shareware programs out there:

Contributed by Andreas Prilop:
The conversions of TrueType fonts between MacOS and MS Windows work well only for Latin (West European) fonts. Nothing is predictable for Cyrillic fonts, however. The TrueType format for character encoding is very complex (Developing TrueType) and differently built Cyrillic TrueType fonts exist. It might be possible to convert a Windows CP1251 TrueType font to a Macintosh CP1251 TrueType font. But it might equally well be that the converted font is not even recognized under MacOS.

Now on to the interconversion between the different standards of Cyrillic encodings. Here is some software that might be helpful:

Navigational Aid