I’ve been asked many times how to enter Maltese characters on a computer – i.e. ċĊ, ġĠ, ħĦ and żŻ.
It turns out there’s a lot of misconceptions out there, and many people think that typing Maltese and other non-Latin characters requires a special keyboard and/or specially installed fonts. This is completely not true, and all users with a moderately modern computer are able to enter such characters by simply adding a selecting a different keyboard layout from their OS.
“Maltese Fonts” and why they’re such a bad idea
A few years ago, everyone thought these so-called “Maltese Fonts” were the solution to entering Maltese characters into your computer. These fonts are just copies of the usual fonts we all know (Arial, Times etc) but with certain characters redrawn, such that when you type a [ it is displayed as a ġ, } becomes Ħ and so on. Now if all you’re doing is typing into a word processor and printing directly from the same computer, the solution seems to work.
But what happens if you want to send a Maltese document to someone who doesn’t have these fonts installed? Well, they will still be able to open the document, but in place of the proper Maltese characters they would see different punctuation symbols. So the phrase Għażiż Ċali would become something like:
People just accepted this, and would say to each other “you need to install the Maltese fonts in order to read the document”. But, it gets worse. What if you’re entering text somewhere which doesn’t allow you to change fonts? I you were filling in a form on a web page or even writing an email, you would just forget the use of Maltese characters altogether.
To summarise, “Maltese Fonts” are a very short-sighted and inelegant solution. Thankfully, due to a little something called Unicode, all modern computers today will allow you to enter (and read) Maltese and other non-Latin characters, simply by changing your keyboard layout settings (see below).
“Maltese Keyboards” and why you don’t need one (but might still want one)
Another misconception I’ve heard is that in order to enter Maltese characters, you require special hardware — i.e. a “Maltese Keyboard”. This is not true, because all a Maltese keyboard really is is a standard US/UK keyboard with different symbols printed on the keys. Circuitry-wise, everything else is identical. In fact any keyboard can be used to enter any type of character, simply by changing your computer settings.
However, that being said, users may find that having a Maltese keyboard is helpful since they don’t need to remember that they need to press the [ button to produce a ġ and so on.
You can view original article by John J. Camilleri here.