Greek script summary

Updated 13-Jan-2018 • tags greek, scriptnotes

This page provides basic information about the Greek script. It is not authoritative, peer-reviewed information – these are just notes I have gathered or copied from various places as I learned. For similar information related to other scripts, see the Script comparison table.

Clicking on red text examples, or highlighting part of the sample text shows a list of characters, with links to more details. Click on the vertical blue bar (bottom right) to change font settings for the sample text.

Sample (Greek)

ΑΡΘΡΟ 1 Όλοι οι άνθρωποι γεννιούνται ελεύθεροι και ίσοι στην αξιοπρέπεια και τα δικαιώματα. Είναι προικισμένοι με λογική και συνείδηση, και οφείλουν να συμπεριφέρονται μεταξύ τους με πνεύμα αδελφοσύνης.

ΑΡΘΡΟ 2 Κάθε άνθρωπος δικαιούται να επικαλείται όλα τα δικαιώματα και όλες τις ελευθερίες που προκηρύσσει η παρούσα Διακήρυξη, χωρίς καμία απολύτως διάκριση, ειδικότερα ως προς τη φυλή, το χρώμα, το φύλο, τη γλώσσα, τις θρησκείες, τις πολιτικές ή οποιεσδήποτε άλλες πεποιθήσεις, την εθνική ή κοινωνική καταγωγή, την περιουσία, τη γέννηση ή οποιαδήποτε άλλη κατάσταση. Δεν θα μπορεί ακόμα να γίνεται καμία διάκριση εξαιτίας του πολιτικού, νομικού ή διεθνούς καθεστώτος της χώρας από την οποία προέρχεται κανείς, είτε πρόκειται για χώρα ή εδαφική περιοχή ανεξάρτητη, υπό κηδεμονία ή υπεξουσία, ή που βρίσκεται υπό οποιονδήποτε άλλον περιορισμό κυριαρχίας.

Usage & history

From Scriptsource:

The Greek script was the first documented writing system to represent consonants and vowels with distinct symbols, making it the oldest true alphabet. It has been used since the 8th century BC for writing the Greek language, and select letters are also currently used in writing mathematic and scientific concepts such as π (pi) and Ω (Ohm). Some symbols have been incorporated into the International Phonetic Alphabet. The script has also been used for writing a number of minority languages, including Urum, Albanian Tosk, and Balkan Gagauz Turkish.

The Phoenician prince Cadmus is credited with introducing Phoenician writing to the Greeks, who then adapted it, most significantly by adding vowel letters, to write the Greek language. Historically, there were a number of variants of the alphabet, including an East/West variation. The Western variant was called Chalcidian, from which the Old Italic and Latin alphabets descended, and the Eastern variant was called Ionic, from which the modern Greek alphabet descended. A third variant, called the Attic script, was used in Athens until 400 BC, when they adopted the Ionic script. Subsequently the Ionic script became standard throughout Greece. At that time, Greek was written from right to left or in boustrophedon style, though it is now written from left to right.

From Wikipedia:

The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late 9th century BC or early 8th century BC. It was derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script to have distinct letters for vowels as well as consonants. It is the ancestor of the Latin and Cyrillic scripts. Apart from its use in writing the Greek language, in both its ancient and its modern forms, the Greek alphabet today also serves as a source of technical symbols and labels in many domains of mathematics, science and other fields.

Key features

Greek is an alphabet. Letters typically represent a consonant or vowel sound. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features, taken from the Script Comparison Table.

Text is written horizontally, left to right, and the visual forms of letters don't usually interact. The script is bicameral.

Character lists

The Greek script characters in Unicode 10.0 are spread across 2 blocks, plus one extra for Ancient Greek numbers (not counting the phonetic blocks nor any of the combining character blocks):

The following links give information about characters used for languages associated with this script. The numbers in parentheses are for non-ASCII characters.

For character-specific details see Greek Character notes.

Context-based glyph changes

The letter sigma in Greek varies in shape, depending on whether it appears in the middle or at the end of a word.


Two different shapes for sigma (in red), depending on word position.

However, this shaping is not done by rendering rules. There are two separate code points in Unicode for the lowercase σ [U+03C3 GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA] and ς [U+03C2 GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA], and separate keys on the standard keyboard.

Text layout

Text delimiters

Words are separated by spaces.

Greek uses standard Latin punctuation.


Justification is done, principally, by adjusting the space between words.

Use the control below to see how your browser justifies the text sample here.

Όλοι είναι ίσοι απέναντι στον νόμο και έχουν δικαίωμα σε ίση προστασία του νόμου, χωρίς καμία απολύτως διάκριση. Όλοι έχουν δικαίωμα σε ίση προστασία από κάθε διάκριση που θα παραβίαζε την παρούσα Διακήρυξη και από κάθε πρόκληση για μια τέτοια δυσμενή διάκριση.

Last changed 2018-01-13 14:25 GMT.  •  Make a comment.  •  Licence CC-By © r12a.