Unicode - What is it?

"Unicode" is a technical solution to the problem of making the entire world of different alphabets representable by a computer.

Unicode represents individual print characters, or what they refer to as"glyphs". For example, in English there are glyphs for 26 lower case letters, and 26 upper case letters, as well as 10 numerals, plus punctuation signs, etc. All of these are accessible to you directly from your keyboard.

But of course there are other alphabets such as Arabic, Cyrillic and Greek. Add to that a multiplicity of other signs used in mathematics, chemistry, etc.

Believe it or not there are now over 100,000 unique glyphs.

It is quite obvious that even if we were able to develop a keyboard using just the characters many of us need on a fairly regular basis, it would be a confusingly large one. There are however many add-on programs which can assist, such as MathType, which allows an easier means of entering the characters needed for creating mathematical material within a Word document. These programs generally all use Unicode.

Unicode Lists

You will find lists of Unicode Characters currently supported in DBT in the on-line Help.

Keyboard Input (Word)

There is a method to input a special character in Word. Type the Unicode value which appears in the list, and then immediately hold down the left Alt Key and tap the letter X. (Note that while on some keyboards the left and right Alt keys are identical, the right Alt key on some may carry the legend "Alt Gr". On these, it allows the creation of a third character.)

For example, if you look at the (U+26xx) - Miscellaneous Symbols Topic in DBT Help, you will see some interesting symbols related to weather, etc.. If we wanted to include a sun, we would therefore type 2600 followed by Alt x and would see a ☀ appear.

Keyboard Input (DBT)

You will notice that the table above contains a column called DUSCI. And this shows "FF30" for the sun character. Hence if you wish to input this character directly in to DBT, hold down the Ctrl key and tap the ] key (Right Square Bracket). Type ff30 into the dialog and press OK. This character will now be put into your DBT document.

What appears when translated into braille?

Where there is an official braille sign for a print symbol, that appears in the braille.

If there is no formal braille sign, you will find the description appears instead, in this case, "black sun with rays".