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Wellesley College Research Guides

Writing in Foreign Languages: Hebrew

A guide to using foreign characters, software for writing in foreign languages, and using foreign language keyboards.

Quick Tips

Enable your on-screen keyboard so you can see the letters and symbols as you type.

Mac | Windows

Sharing your documents typed in Hebrew

When in doubt, Save As PDF or RTF (Rich Text Format) from Google Docs or Mellel.

  • PDF is an image snapshot of your document. It will stay stable and look perfect, but it is difficult to edit.
  • RTF will be easy to edit and remain legible, but does not hold on to complex formatting.
  • If you are submitting assignments to your professor from Mellel (Mac) or Word (Windows), you may use the original file format. 

PowerPoint presentations in Hebrew

PowerPoint slides with Hebrew text will open and display the text correctly when carried across platforms (Mac to Windows and vice versa). However, keep in mind that whenever you change computers or switch platforms, the format of your slides may change due to differences in the available Fonts or PowerPoint versions installed on different machines.

To ensure that your presentation looks the way you want it to, you could:

  • Preview your PowerPoint on the computer that will be used for the presentation beforehand.
  • Bring your own laptop to class. If you have a Mac, you will need an adapter to plug in to the classroom projector. 
  • Save your original PowerPoint as a PowerPoint file, but also save a copy as images. This will save each slide as a .jpg file. You can display these image files to run like a slide showYou can find instructions on how to do this here.

Are your websites stuck in Hebrew?

Try emptying the cache and clearing the cookies. If you don't know how, search for instructions using your web browser's help menu.

Need more Hebrew fonts?

Try this site - it has various fonts for Modern Hebrew scripts as well as Ancient Hebrew scripts.

Table of Contents

Enabling the Hebrew keyboard: Mac OS X | Windows 7

Recommended software: Mac (simple formatting, more complex formatting) | Windows

Hebrew in Google Docs

Writing Gmail emails in Hebrew


Hebrew diacritics - Niqqud: Mac | Windows

Enabling the Hebrew keyboard

Mac OS X

For OS 10.9 and later:

1.     Go to the Apple menu. Select System Preferences.

2.     Click Language & Region. If you do not see Hebrew in the list of Preferred languages, click the “+” button. Select it from the new list that opens and click Add.

3.     Click Keyboard Preferences…

  • ​​The Keyboard settings can also be reached by clicking Keyboard from the main System Preferences menu.

4.     On the Input Sources tab, click the “+” button. 

5.     Select Hebrew from the list. Then Select Hebrew [rather than Hebrew-QWERTY] from the list on the right. Click Add.

6.     Check the box next to Show Input menu in menu bar.

7.     Go to the Keyboard tab. Check the box next to Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar.

For OS 10.6 through 10.8:

1.     Click on the Apple Logo (top left) and choose System Preferences

2.     Choose Language & Text.

3.     In the Language tab, make sure you can see Hebrew there.

  • If you do not see Hebrew in the list click on Edit List... The computer will display a list of available languages.
  • Check Hebrew to add it to the list and click OK. You will now be able to choose Hebrew as an input language. In this window you can also sort the order in which you want your language choices listed.

4.     Move to the Input Menu tab. Under the section Input type check Keyboard Viewer and Character Palette (if you see this option). At the bottom of the window check the Show input menu in menu bar box.

5.     Select the Keyboard input type for Hebrew. Choose Hebrew [rather than Hebrew-QWERTY]. This is the keyboard layout for Israel. 


You should now be able to see a little flag next to the clock in the upper right corner of your screen

  • If you do not, you may have to reboot your computer for the changes to take effect

You can now toggle between the languages listed there.


Enable the on-screen keyboard in this menu by clicking Show Keyboard Viewer




Windows 7

1.     Go to Start -> Control Panel -> Clock, Language, and Region -> Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods

2.     In the Keyboards & Languages tab, click Change Keyboards

3.     In the installed services box, check for Hebrew.

  • If it’s not there, click Add. Scroll down to Hebrew (Israel) and check the box. Click OK

4.     Click Apply.

  • You should now see a language bar in the bottom right corner.  


If you do not see the language bar, you may need to reboot in order for the changes to take effect.


Enable the on-screen Keyboard

  • Click the Start button, click All Programs -> Accessories -> Ease of Access -> On-Screen Keyboard.


Recommended Software for Macs

Certain Mac applications do not support Right-to-Left scripts like Hebrew and Arabic.

When using these applications, Hebrew fonts will appear garbled, disconnected or reversed. 

  • Apple Works
  • MS Office (except for PowerPoint)
  • Adobe

Mac applications that DO support Hebrew input:

  • TextEdit
  • Mellel
  • Open Office and NeoOffice
  • PowerPoint
  • Mail and Address Book
  • iChat, iTunes, iMovie 6, Skype
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Pages, Keynote, iWeb (to a limited extent

Google Docs also support Hebrew input

Typing and Printing Simple Documents on a Mac

   When typing and printing simple documents on a Mac, you can to use TextEdit (equivalent to Notepad on a PC).

   TextEdit is a simple editor with limited formatting options. Follow these steps to write Arabic in TextEdit:

  • Make sure you are typing in Rich Text mode. Click on the TextEdit pull-down menu, then PreferencesSelect Rich Text if it is not already selected.
  • Click on Format, then Text, then Writing DirectionClick on Right-to-Left to change the setting.
  • Finally, click on Format, then Align Right to begin typing on the right side of the page.


To create documents with more complex formatting, consider the following options:


   Google Docs 


  • Installed on Macs in labs across campus
  • Fully-featured word processing software for Hebrew language
  • Videos & Tutorials for Mellel are available on Mellel's website. Scroll down to the Tutorials & Guides section
  • To set Mellel to type in Hebrew:
    1. Change the language keyboard to Hebrew (flag next to date/time)
    2. Launch Mellel
    3. Choose one of the standard Apple Fonts (Lucida Grande, Helvetica, etc.) as your Main Font
    4. Click on the arrow on the top left of the Mellel window to change to Right-to-Left mode.
  • Mellel is Mac-only software and is currently not available to install on personal computers through Wellesley. 


Other Freeware Options for Mac

Recommended Software for PCs

Microsoft Office Word:

   Quick tips:

  • Enable Hebrew for your keyboard first and set your language bar to Hebrew.
  • If you do not have any Hebrew fonts installed, use Arial, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Courier New or Lucida Sans. 
  • Follow the directions below to set up Right-to-Left typing in Word. Using Right Justify will type in the correct direction, but the letters may appear reversed. Also, your period punctuation will appear on the right side of the line instead of where it belongs - at the end of the sentence.

   Switch to Right-to-Left writing mode (Word 2007 and 2010):

    1. Right click anywhere on the toolbar at the top of the screen
    2. Click Customize Quick Access Toolbar
    3. From the drop box for Choose Commands From on the top left of the screen, click Home tab
    4. From the list of commands on the left-hand pane, click Left-to-Right Text Direction
    5. Click the Add button between the left and right panes to add this function to theQuick Access Toolbar
    6. Click Right-to-Left Text Direction from the left pane and then click Add
    7. Click Ok

   Spell-check in Word 2010:

    1. Select the text you want to spell-check.
    2. In the Review tab, in the Language group, click Language, and then click Set Proofing Langugage
    3. In the Language dialog box, verify that the correct language is associated with the text. If it is not, select the language you want to use for the dictionary and other proofing tools.

Other free Word Processing software for Windows: (both of these support right-to-left script)

Hebrew in Google Documents

  Creating a Hebrew document using Google Docs

  • Create a new blank document in your Google Drive.
  • Click on Settings, then Document Settings in the top right corner of the window.
  • Check the box next to "Show right-to-left controls in the editor," then click Save
  • This will add two small ¶ symbols to the right side of the document's toolbar.Click on the symbol with an arrow pointing left. This will switch your document's typing direction.

Advantages: Available on all computers at any time. Can do footnotes (Insert > Footnotes)
Disadvantages: Can't do autonumbering or other ongoing maintenance of footnotes. Can't do endnotes, or bibliographies 

Hebrew in Gmail

Writing Gmail emails in Hebrew:

After you've enabled Hebrew as a language on your Mac, you will be able to type emails in Hebrew, however, you will notice that periods always go to the right side of the line. To make your end-of-sentence punctuation appear on the left side, you will have to go into Settings -> General and change the Gmail display language to Hebrew.

You can also spell-check in Hebrew. On the upper right side of the email box you'll see the Check Spelling menu. If you click on the teeny triangle to the right you'll see the list of available languages.

Hebrew Diacritics - Niqqud

The following accent shortcuts work with most applications and broswers, including Microsoft Word and Gmail.

Adding Hebrew vowel marks on a Mac:

Dagesh or Mappiq option + ,  
Hiriq option + 4
Holam option + =  
Kamatz option + 7    סָ
Kubutz option + 8
Patach option + 6
Reduced Kamatz option + 2    סֳ
Reduced Patach option + 1
Reduced Segol option + 3
Segol option + 9
Sh'va option + 0
Shin dot (right) option + shift + m
Sin dot (left) option + shift + a
Shuruk option + shift + u
Zeire option + 5


Hint: Enabling the on-screen keyboard really helps - you can see where all the letters and vowels and punctuation marks etc. are located. Hold down the option key or the option + shift key to reveal the additional options you have for typing various symbols.


Adding Hebrew vowel marks in Windows:

You can enter niqqud by pressing CapsLock, placing the cursor after the consonant letter and then pressing Shift and one of the keys in the chart below.

Dagesh or Mappiq =
Hiriq 4
Holam -  
Kamatz 8          סָ
Kubutz \
Patach 7
Reduced Kamatz 3    סֳ
Reduced Patach 2
Reduced Segol 1
Segol 6
Sh'va ~
Shin dot (right) 0
Sin dot (left) 9
Shuruk =
Zeire 5


Hint: Enabling the on-screen keyboard really helps - you can see where all the letters and vowels and punctuation marks etc. are located. Hold down the Shift key or the AltGR (right Alt) key to reveal the additional options you have for typing various symbols. 


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