English - Moon Translator Table Flag of the United Kingdom

Table Designator: eng-xukmoon

Generally, a translation table is a DBT module that controls translation from print-to-braille or braille-to-print. This translator is an exception. This table translates between inkprint and "Moon transcription". Like all translator tables, this table is selected, by default, when the corresponding DBT template is selected. (For more on templates, see DBT Templates, the Basics.)

Regardless of your template, you can choose a different translation table to translate your current document using the Translation Table selection from the DBT Document Menu.

Normally in DBT, you can also select different translation tables to use for particular passages within your document. For Moon this is not practical, because it requires a special mode of output on the embosser.


Moon is a system of tactile writing wherein the raised characters mostly resemble the print characters for which they stand, thereby making the system especially easy to learn for people who become blind late in life. It was invented by Dr. William Moon in 1845. It is not a form of braille, but Moon can be used as a stepping-stone to the learning of braille. A "Moon Literacy" web site was launched in 2006 - http://moonliteracy.org.uk/, and the RNIB web site at http://www.rnib.org.uk is also a source of information about the Moon system.

The English Moon tables support print-to-Moon translation for three English literary grades: grade two (full contractions) which is the default, grade one (minimal contractions), and grade "one-half" (fully spelled).

Moon-to-print translation is not supported.

Key Characteristics

Table Designator: eng-xukmoon.

Contractions: Moon transcription uses three different levels of contraction, as described in the section, Translation Modes, below.

Capital Sign: Moon transcription either uses or omits a capitalization indicator depending on the setting of the caplv code. (See the sections, "Additional Requirements", and, "Translation Modes").

Emphasis: Emphasis is not supported.

Mathematical Braille: No technical code is supported.

Script Systems Used: The English Moon translator handles Roman characters and a limited number of other symbols and punctuation marks.

Additional Requirements

Output: Your embosser must support this form of output. An Enabling Technologies embosser with "Moon mode" setting, or the equivalent, must be used. Also make sure that the page dimensions (under Global / Embosser Setup) have been set appropriately.  For example, 22 characters per line and 21 lines per page would be typical for a Juliet embosser with the paper size 13 inches long and 10-3/4 inches wide (excluding the tractor-feed border).

Input and Editing: The inkprint file can be prepared by direct keying or by import from a word processor, and may be viewed and edited normally in DBT. However, the translated output cannot be viewed on screen (i.e., in a Moon font). Generally, when viewing the translated Moon document (which is mislabeled as a "braille" file), the best option is to select the "print font" under the View menu. The print characters correspond one-for-one with Moon characters and mostly have a mnemonic relationship to them, even if they are not always shaped similarly. You can edit the Moon file, save it to a .dxb or .brf file, and emboss it to a suitable embosser.

Capitalization: Capital letters are usually not indicated in Moon, except in exceptional circumstances, as explained in the Moon Transcribers Instruction Manual, section 3.4. When those exceptional circumstances pertain and capitals are to be indicated in Moon, the user should prepare the input file so that only those initial capitals that are to be indicated are actually uppercase.

Moon-to-print translation: is not supported. When viewing the Moon file the "translated line" field will typically contain gibberish, and you may prefer to turn that feature off.

Translation Modes (DBT Codes which Change the Mode of Translation)

A number of DBT codes affect the mode of the translation or create special translation effects on specific letters or symbols. Some translation modes are specific to particular translator tables.

[caplv1] initiates a mode of translation that suppresses the indication of capital letters.

[caplv3] enables the indication of capital letters. This is the default mode for the translation table in order to be consistent with the other English language tables, i.e., those that produce braille. However, the default mode for any given document is set by the DBT template selected, "Moon Basic" or "Moon Basic - No Capitals". The template sets the caplv code appropriately in its Initial style.

[g2] switches to "grade 2" Moon, where all contractions are used.

[g1] switches to "grade 1" Moon, with limited contractions, as defined in the Transcribers Instruction Manual. For example, the contraction for "and" is used even in grade 1.

[g0.5] (zero point five) switches to "grade one-half," where all words are fully spelled out.

References, History, and Credits

These tables are based upon the "Moon Transcribers Instruction Manual" from April 1996, written and used by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). Duxbury Systems originally developed the Moon tables in May 1999, with the guidance and assistance of RNIB and Enabling Technologies.