SignWriting Fonts Test Page

Encoding Formats


The ISWA 2010 contains 37,811 individual symbols. Every symbol is defined with a 2-color SVG. The primary color of a symbol is the line that shows the shape of the symbol. The secondary color of a symbol is the fill that is important when symbols overlap. When symbols overlap, the fill of the symbol on top should cover the line of the symbol underneath. The secondary color can be set to the background color to blend a sign image on the page.

For a 2-color font, there are 37,811 glyphs in the set.

For a 1-color font, there are 37,811 glyphs for the lines and an additional 25,429 glyphs for the fill.

Formal SignWriting and Symbol Keys

Formal SignWriting (FSW) is the standard storage format for SignWriting Text. It is easy process and compatible with ASCII. Formal SignWriting uses symbol keys, structural markers, and number characters.

Symbol keys are used in FSW and uniquely identify a symbol in the ISWA 2010.

Private Use Area

Using the Private Use Area Uncode characters requires Graphite and Firefox with the font installed.

Smart font development by Eduardo Trapani: iswa.ttf, 6.1MB Github Source

Every symbol of the ISWA 2010 can be described with 3 characters from the Private Use Area of Unicode.

Full 2-dimensional typesetting of signs is possible with additional characters.

Unicode 8

The SignWriting symbols as described in the ISWA 2010 will be included in Unicode 8 released in 2015. Each glyph is identified by 1 to 3 Unicode characters on plane 1. The gray cells identify where a sorting error occurs.

The Unicode 8 specification will not include the layout characters of SignWriting Text; therefore, it is impossible to properly name a sign with Unicode 8 alone. For the 2-dimensional structures and placement, either a lite ASCII markup can be used or the Unicode Private Use Area characters on plane 15 can be used.

Currently there is no font available for the Unicode 8 specification of the SignWriting symbols. Before the official specification is published, I hope we can complete this project. The data above is freely available for use. If you can donate your time, please dive into the project. If you know the right tools, please drop me a line. (

Development continues with FontForge. See the SignWriting Symbol Font Development for more details.

ISWA 2010 SVG Glyphs with Unicode 8 names 1.1 MB zipped, 24 MB unzipped Text file with 37,811 lines, 1 per ISWA 2010 symbol. Each line starts with the Unicode 8 name, followed by a tab, followed by the SVG definition.
OpenType Feature File for Unicode 8 170 KB zipped, 1.2 MB unzipped Text file with 37,813 lines, 2 lines to open and close the liga feature and 1 line per ISWA 2010 symbol. Each line starts with the Unicode 8 name and maps to the ISWA 2010 glyph name as the symbol key.

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