For example, these are some scripts:

  • Arabic for Arabic/Persian/Urdu
  • Devanagari for Hindi
  • Tamil
  • Kanji/Kana for Japanese
  • Tibetan
  • Hebrew with Niqqud
  • Amharic
  • Sinhala
  • etc.

How do you typically write these letters on a normal keyboard? How does it work? Are there any good images or videos that show how this works or show people typing on it to show their workflow?

The reason I ask is I am interested in making a keyboard tool for a custom script and wondering what best practices are or how they normally work. I also want to see if I can improve on existing keyboard designs, or at least replicate them.

Do you type some key-command and then press TAB to get the character? I've seen like in Chinese you type the sound I think, using ASCII, then you get a dropdown with a list of choices of Chinese characters. What is it like for the other languages listed above sort of thing?

I have only written in English really, maybe Spanish, so I am unfamiliar with how this works and don't really know how to start searching for it.

2 Answers 2


The non-profit SIL International has an initiative that seems to be relevant to your question: Keyman is a tool for creating keyboards for less common languages. It covers all the scripts you have listed, and might already offer a keyboard layout for the script you are working on.

Some examples are also available on Wikipedia's Keyboard layouts page.


One of the easiest ways to find out about alternative keyboard layouts is to play with them. Linux, Windows and MacOS all allow one to download different keyboard layouts (by which I mean tools that treat the keyboard as if it is in a particular language) and to switch (with varying degrees of ease) between then. It is even possible to stick with your English, and experiment with various layouts including the standard QWERTY keyboard as well as Dvorak layouts and others. There are also tools to create different keyboards, such as this tool for Windows.

There is an article on changing Windows keyboards here. Some information relevant to Linux is here.

If you decide to experiment with different existing layouts before designing your own, then I have a suggestion that might reduce some of your frustration and aggravation. It is this: having installed a new keyboard layout, and having switched the language settings on your operating system so that the new keyboard is recognised, open up the accessibility tool that shows the keyboard layout onscreen. That way, you will be able to learn something about the functionality of the new keyboard without having to learn to touch-type first!

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