Updated 14 July, 2019 • tags gurmukhi, scriptnotes

This page provides basic information about the Gurmukhi script and its use for the Panjabi language. It is not authoritative, peer-reviewed information – these are just notes I have gathered or copied from various places as i learned. For character-specific details follow the links to the Gurmukhi character notes.

See also the Gurmukhi picker.

For similar information related to other scripts, see the script links pages.

Clicking on red text examples, or highlighting part of the sample text shows a list of characters. Click on the vertical blue bar (bottom right) to change font settings for the sample text. Colours and annotations on panels listing characters are relevant to their use for the Template language.

About the transcriptions.

Two types of transcription are used in this page: phonemic, and transliteration. The transliteration is based largely on ISO 15919, but with some changes mainly intended to ensure a one-to-one correspondence between characters. For example, two-letter sequences are handled by superscripting the second letter, such as ʰ in . Also, is used to indicate the inherent vowel, and the virama is shown using a diacritic, as in .

Sample (Panjabi)

ਆਰਟੀਕਲ: 1 ਸਾਰਾ ਮਨੁੱਖੀ ਪਰਿਵਾਰ ਆਪਣੀ ਮਹਿਮਾ, ਸ਼ਾਨ ਅਤੇ ਹੱਕਾਂ ਦੇ ਪੱਖੋਂ ਜਨਮ ਤੋਂ ਹੀ ਆਜ਼ਾਦ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਸੁਤੇ ਸਿੱਧ ਸਾਰੇ ਲੋਕ ਬਰਾਬਰ ਹਨ । ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਸਭਨਾ ਨੂੰ ਤਰਕ ਅਤੇ ਜ਼ਮੀਰ ਦੀ ਸੌਗਾਤ ਮਿਲੀ ਹੋਈ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਭਰਾਤਰੀਭਾਵ ਦੀ ਭਾਵਨਾ ਰਖਦਿਆਂ ਆਪਸ ਵਿਚ ਵਿਚਰਣਾ ਚਾਹੀਦਾ ਹੈ ।

ਆਰਟੀਕਲ: 2 ਹਰੇਕ ਵਿਅਕਤੀ ਨੂੰ ਭਾਵੇਂ ਉਸ ਦੀ ਕੋਈ ਨਸਲ, ਰੰਗ, ਲਿੰਗ, ਭਾਸ਼ਾ, ਧਰਮ, ਰਾਜਨੀਤਕ ਵਿਚਾਰਧਾਰਾ ਜਾਂ ਕੋਈ ਹੋਰ ਵਿਚਾਰਧਾਰਾ ਹੋਏ, ਭਾਵੇਂ ਉਸ ਦੀ ਕੋਈ ਵੀ ਜਾਇਦਾਦ ਹੋਵੇ ਅਤੇ ਭਾਵੇਂ ਉਸ ਦਾ ਕਿਤੇ ਵੀ ਜਨਮ ਹੋਇਆ ਹੋਵੇ ਤੇ ਉਸਦਾ ਕੋਈ ਵੀ ਰੁਤਬਾ ਹੋਵੇ, ਉਹ ਐਲਾਨਨਾਮੇ ਵਿਚ ਮਿਲੇ ਅਧਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਤੇ ਆਜ਼ਾਦੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਪ੍ਰਾਪਤ ਕਰਨ ਦਾ ਹੱਕ ਰਖਦਾ ਹੈ । ਇਸ ਤੋਂ ਵੀ ਅੱਗੇ ਇਸ ਗੱਲ ਦਾ ਕੋਈ ਭੇਦ ਭਾਵ ਨਹੀਂ ਰਖਿਆ ਜਾਏਗਾ ਕਿ ਉਹ ਵਿਅਕਤੀ ਕਿਹੜੇ ਮੁਲਕ ਦਾ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਉਸ ਮੁਲਕ ਦਾ ਅੰਤਰਰਾਸ਼ਟਰੀ ਰੁਤਬਾ ਕਿਹੋ ਜਿਹਾ ਹੈ । ਇਸ ਗੱਲ ਦਾ ਵੀ ਖਿਆਲ ਨਹੀਂ ਰਖਿਆ ਜਾਏਗਾ ਕਿ ਉਹ ਵਿਅਕਤੀ ਕਿਸੇ ਆਜ਼ਾਦ ਮੁਲਕ ਦਾ ਹੈ, ਜਾਂ ਉਹ ਮੁਲਕ ਕਿਸੇ ਟਰੱਸਟ ਅਧੀਨ ਹੈ ਜਾਂ ਉਸ ਦਾ ਆਪਣਾ ਸਵੈਸ਼ਾਸਨ ਨਹੀਂ ਅਤੇ ਜਾਂ ਉਹ ਕਿਸੇ ਅਜਿਹੇ ਇਲਾਕੇ ਵਿਚ ਰਹਿੰਦਾ ਹੈ ਜਿਸ ਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਭੂਸੱਤਾ ਸੀਮਤ ਹੈ ।

Usage & history

From Scriptsource:

The Gurmukhi script is used primarily by followers of the Sikh religion in India to write the Punjabi language. Gurmukhi writing is historically derived from Brahmi, but its present form was developed in the 16th century by Guru Angad, successor to the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak. The word Gurmukhi means 'from the mouth of the guru'. Muslims in the Pakistani Punjab write Punjabi in the Persian script; use of the Persian script for writing Punjabi is called Shahmukhi.


From Wikipedia:

Gurmukhi (IPA: [ɡʊɾmʊkʰi]; Gurmukhi(literary means "from Guru's mouth"): ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ) is a Sikh script modified, standardized and used by the second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad (1563–1606). It is used by Sikhs as one of two scripts to write the Punjabi language, the other being the Perso-Arabic Shahmukhi script used by Punjabi Muslims.

The primary scripture of Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib is written in Gurmukhī, in various dialects often coalesced under the generic title of Sant Bhasha.

Key features

The Gurmukhi script is an abugida, ie. consonants carry an inherent vowel sound that is overridden using vowel signs. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features, taken from the Script Comparison Table.

The following list describes some distinctive characteristics of Gurmuki script.

Character lists

The Gurmukhi script characters in Unicode 10.0 are in a single block:

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 Gurmukhi character notes.


As an abugida, the basic unit of text is the orthographic syllable. Consonant clusters occur at the beginning of orthographic syllables, however they are generally not marked specially.

Gurmukhi uses spaces to separate text into words.

Punjabi is unusual among major Indian scripts in that it is a tonal language with three tones: high rising falling (transcribed as á), low rising (transcribed as à), and level (not transcribed). The tones cover one or two syllables.d However, there appears to be a lack of clarity about the fine detail of how the tonal system works.b

In yellow boxes, show:


Inherent vowel

Consonants carry an inherent vowel usually transcribed as a and pronounced ə. So is pronounced .

Vowel absence

Unlike most other indic scripts, there is generally no indication when a consonant is not pronounced with a following vowel. (For the few occasions where this is made clear see the section consonantClusters.) Generally speaking, the reader simply has to know whether an inherent vowel is pronounced or not, eg. ਉਤਸੁਕ ʊ̣tsʊk utsuk curious.

The inherent vowel is generally not pronounced at the end of a word (see the previous example).

Gurmukhi uses [U+0A4D GURMUKHI SIGN VIRAMA] (called halant in Punjabi) to kill the inherent vowel after a consonant. It is rarely seen. As just mentioned, no virama is used at the end of a word, nor in many other situations. It is also usually hidden when the consonant is part of a consonant cluster.

The virama is visible, however, if the consonant isn't followed by a consonant, eg. ਕ੍ explicitly represents just the sound k.

The virama may also be used occasionally to suppress the vowel in Sanskritised text, or in dictionaries for extra phonetic information.


To produce a different vowel than the inherent one, Gurmukhi attaches vowel signs to the preceding consonant, eg. ਕੀ ki.

Gurmukhi vowel signs are all combining characters. A single character is used per base consonant.

All vowel-signs are typed and stored after the base consonant, whether or not they precede it when displayed. The font takes care of the glyph positioning.


Three of the vowel-signs are spacing marks, meaning that they consume horizontal space when added to a base consonant.

Vowel-sign positions are as follows:

Vowels i and u may be pronounced differently in certain contexts. With a high tone they represent é and ó, eg. ਕਿਹੜਾ kɪhɽā kéɽɑ who, and ਕੁਹੜਾ kʊhɽā kóɽɑ leper. d

Combined with a preceding ah they produce ǽ and ɔ́, respectively, eg. ਕਹਿਣਾ khɪɳā kǽɳɑ to say, and ਵਹੁਟੀ vhʊʈī wɔ́ʈi bride. d

Standalone vowels

Standalone vowels are not preceded by a consonant, and may appear at the beginning or in the middle of a word.

Gurmukhi represents standalone vowels using a set of independent vowel letters. The set includes a character to represent the inherent vowel sound.


[U+0A05 GURMUKHI LETTER A] is actually classified as a null consonant with an inherent vowel.

In fact, all independent vowels in Gurmukhi are graphically a combination of one of the following three vowel carriers and a vowel sign.


However while it's also possible to type them in this way, the Unicode Standard actually recommends that the precomposed characters be used instead. The precomposed letters don't decompose in Normalization Form D.

The use of the following characters is therefore deprecated by the Unicode Standard.



Two separate diacritics are used to indicate nasalisation.

[U+0A70 GURMUKHI TIPPI] is used with vowels a, i, u, and with final ū, eg. ਮੂੰਡਾ mūŋ̽ɖā muɳɖɑ boy.

[U+0A02 GURMUKHI SIGN BINDI] is used for all other vowels, eg. ਸ਼ਾਂਤ ʃā˜t ʃɑ̃t peaceful.

These diacritics can also signal gemination of a following m or n.

Note that if a tippi is used in a location where bindi is more appropriate, some fonts may silently convert the shape to a dot.


The word emergency contains both bindi and tippi.


Basic consonants

Gurmukhi has a set of consonants that mostly map onto the traditional Brahmi phonetic matrix, though not all are used for articulatory distinctions.


[U+0A05 GURMUKHI LETTER A] is also classified as a null consonant and is described in independentvowels.

Repertoire extension (nukta)

[U+0A3C GURMUKHI SIGN NUKTA] is used to represent foreign sounds, particularly for Urdu or Persian, eg. in ਜ਼ਖ਼ਮੀ zˑxˑmī injured, the dot changes ʤ to ਜ਼ z, and to ਖ਼ x. The following graphemes combine nukta with an existing consonant.


These graphemes are decomposed by Unicode Normalization Form C (NFC), however there are also a set of precomposed code points in the Unicode Gurmukhi block.


The nukta should always be typed and stored immediately after the consonant it modifies, and before any combining vowels or diacritics.

Tone-related consonants

Gurmukhi doesn't normally use tone diacritics. Instead, certain character combinations serve to indicate high and low tones. The level tone is not marked.

Five of the consonants – those nominally representing voiced, aspirated sounds in the Brahmi model – indicate changes in tone. The articulatory pronunciation is unaspirated and, when syllable-initial, unvoiced.


The letters above indicate a low tone when at the beginning of a word or syllable, eg. ਘੋੜਾ gʰoɽā kòɽɑ horse, or medially between a short and long vowel, eg. ਪਘਾਰਨਾ pgʰārnā pəɡɑ̀rnɑ to melt. They indicate a high tone when elsewhere, eg. ਕੁਝ kʊʤʰ kúʤ something. o

In addition, the consonant [U+0A39 GURMUKHI LETTER HA] is only pronounced h when it occurs word initially, eg. ਹਰੀ hrī həri green. In other locations it is unpronounced and indicates that the preceding vowel has a high tone, eg. ਮੀਹ mīh rain, and ਚੜ੍ਹ ʧɽ͓h ʧə́ɽ climb. When used after a consonant, it appears subjoined below that consonant.d

When the letter ha follows a short i or u, it changes the vowel's phonetic value from [ɪ] and [ʊ] to [é] and [ó], respectively, and indicates a high tone.

According to Omniglot, the conjuncts ਗ੍ਹ g͓h, ਜ੍ਹ ʤ͓h, ਢ੍ਹ ɖʰ͓h, ਦ੍ਹ d͓h, and ਬ੍ਹ b͓h indicate a level tone when at the beginning of a word or syllable, and a low rising tone when elsewhere.o

The diacritic [U+0A51 GURMUKHI SIGN UDAAT​] can also be used in older texts to indicate a high tone.

(The sound h after a vowel can be produced using [U+0A03 GURMUKHI SIGN VISARGA​], but it is only rarely used.)

Syllable-final consonants

Syllable-final consonant sounds are generally represented by ordinary consonant characters (or perhaps a conjunct with h for tonal indications). However, a final h can sometimes be represented by the visarga ( [U+0A03 GURMUKHI SIGN VISARGA]).

Consonant clusters

Conjunct clusters

When the shapes of constituent consonants in a cluster are changed or merged to indicate the lack of intervening vowels, this is referred to as a conjunct.

Clusters of consonants without intervening vowel sounds are generally not marked in Gurmukhi. There are just a few exceptions to that rule, and in each case the cluster is marked by a subjoined version of the second consonant.

The character h in non-initial position is used to indicate tones (see consonant_tones). When the h follows a consonant, it is subjoined to it, eg. ਚੜ੍ਹ ʧɽ͓h ʧə́ɽ climb.

Syllable-initial clusters also occur with r and v, and are also indicated using subjoined forms, eg. ਪ੍ਰਬੰਧ p͓rbŋ̽dʰ prəbə́nd̪ government, and ਸ੍ਵਰਗ s͓vrg svərəg heaven. Subjoined v is much less common in modern text.

The way to indicate the above conjunct clusters is to add [U+0A4D GURMUKHI SIGN VIRAMA​] before the subjoined character, eg. ਪ੍ਰ is produced by the sequence + + [U+0A2A GURMUKHI LETTER PA + U+0A4D GURMUKHI SIGN VIRAMA + U+0A30 GURMUKHI LETTER RA].

The virama may also be used occasionally to suppress the vowel in Sanskritised text, or in dictionaries for extra phonetic information.w

Occasionally, a cluster ending with y is rendered using [U+0A75 GURMUKHI SIGN YAKASH​], eg. .ਕਲੵਚਰੈ kly̆ʧrɛ, though this appears to be quite rare.


Geminated consonants

Doubling or reinforcement of a consonant sound is indicated, unusually for an indic script, using a diacritic, [U+0A71 GURMUKHI ADDAK​]. It is typed before the consonant (In this way it resembles the small tsu in Japanese), and is placed to the left of the consonant it affects (not over it), eg. ਪੱਕੀ p˖kī pəkki ripe.

The diacritic may appear over the right side of the preceding consonant, but if that consonant has a vowel sign or extension above the horizontal topline, it may be displayed on a short extension of the joining line. See the example below for the Gurmukhi MT font when displaying ਭੁੱਲ ਭੇੱਲ ਉੱਛਲ.

ਭੁੱਲ ਭੇੱਲ ਉੱਛਲ

Placement of the addak diacritic.

Geminated mm and nn may be written using a nasalisation diacritic associated with the preceding vowel, eg. ਲੰਮੀ lŋ̽mī ləmmi long. d


Combining marks

The Gurmukhi block includes the following combining characters, over and above the vowel signs described earlier. Follow the links for more information.

5 combining marks are used commonly for conjuncts, repertoire extension, gemination, and nasalisation (x2), respectively.


3 more are used infrequently for abbreviation, conjuncts, and nasalisation, respectively.


[U+0A03 GURMUKHI SIGN VISARGA] is used to represent a final consonant  (see finals), as well as for abbreviations (see abbreviation).

1 was used historically to mark tones.


The Unicode Gurmukhi block has a single punctuation character, [U+0A76 GURMUKHI ABBREVIATION SIGN], but it doesn't appear to be much used.

Gurmukhi occasionally uses sentence-final punctuation from the Devanagari block.


Gurmukhi uses a couple of religious symbols.


[U+0A74 GURMUKHI EK ONKAR] can have various different forms. Unicode classes it as a letter. The shape in the Unicode charts is highly stylised.

The stylised shape of ek onkar in the Unicode chart.

The other religious symbol, [U+262C ADI SHAKTI], is encoded in Unicode's Miscellaneous Symbols block.


Gurmukhi has its own set of decimal digits, however modern text tends to use European digits.w


Structural boundaries & markers

Text delimiters

Words are separated by spaces.

Gurmukhi generally uses western punctuation.


[U+0A03 GURMUKHI SIGN VISARGA​] is used very occasionally in Gurmukhi. In some cases it acts like a Sanskrit visarga, producing a voiceless h sound, but in others it represents an abbreviation, in the same way the period is used in English.w

Line & paragraph layout

Text direction

Gurmukhi script is written horizontally and left to right.


Further information needed for this section includes:

Glyph shaping & positioning
    Cursive text
    Context-based shaping
    Multiple combining characters
    Context-based positioning
    Transforming characters

Structural boundaries & markers
    Grapheme, word & phrase boundaries
    Hyphens & dashes
    Bracketing information
    Abbreviations, ellipsis, & repetition
    Emphasis & highlights
    Inline notes & annotations

Inline layout
    Inline text spacing
    Bidirectional text

Line & paragraph layout
    Line breaking
    Text alignment & justification
    Counters, lists, etc.
    Styling initials
    Baselines & inline alignment

Page & book layout
    General page layout & progression
    Directional layout features
	Grids & tables
    Notes, footnotes, etc.
    Forms & user interaction
    Page numbering, running headers, etc.


  1. [ u ] The Unicode Standard v10.0, Gurmukhi, pp475-479.
  2. [ d ] Peter T. Daniels and William Bright, The World's Writing Systems, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-507993-0, pp395-398
  3. [ w ] Wikipedia, Gurmukhi script
  4. [ s ] Sukhjinder Sidhu, Proposal to encode Gurmukhi Sign Yakash
  5. [ o ] Omniglot, Punjabi
  6. [ b ] Andrea Lynn Bowden, Punjabi Tonemics and the Gurmukhi Script: A Preliminary Study
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