Friday, September 21, 2012

Greek and Hebrew on Google Drive and Android

 I have been using Google Docs more and more in my classes for students working collaboratively. I also use it for some documents that I want to have available irrespective of what computer I'm using. Google has been transitioning, so now it's all basically part of Google Drive.

One problem in my classroom work, however, is that Google Docs did a lousy job with Greek fonts. I had previously noted that Google had obtained rights to David Perry's great Cardo font, but that it did not include the full font set for Greek. If you used Cardo in MS Word on your local system and then tried to upload it into Google Docs, the Greek was a mess. I'm happy to report that the issue has now been remedied. You may need to do a little extra work to use it in your Google Docs, however. If you don't have Cardo in your Google Docs, here's what you need to do. As you can see in the screen shot below, click on the font drop-down, scroll to the bottom, and click on "Add fonts." This will pop up a screen, and you can search for Cardo and include it in your Google Docs collection. 

All good! Yes! No... As you can see with the graphic at the top of the screen, both Greek and Hebrew look great in Google. Hebrew works right-to-left properly and everything. Greek and Hebrew looks good in both TimesNewRoman and Cardo. You may be wondering why bother with Cardo at all if TimesNewRoman works ok. Depending on a variety of operating system issues, I have simply found Cardo is the best choice, and it includes all the Hebrew, Greek, and text critical characters and more.

Still not all good, however... Google has recently made Google Drive docs editable on your Android and iStuff. Excellent! But here's where the font issue arises again. I can't speak for iPhone/iPad, but on my Android (using a Droid X with 2.3.4), neither TimesNewRoman nor Cardo can display the Greek properly. (Hebrew displays fine, but my Android can't handle right-to-left.) So, what to do? I have just discovered that the Ubuntu font will give you the Greek display that you want as you can see in the graphic at the top.

Great! So now you want to use Ubuntu in documents that you will be sharing on your Google Drive, but... you don't have Ubuntu on your local system. So, here's what you do:
  • Go to the Google Web Fonts page
  • Search for Ubuntu,
  • Click Add to Collection
  • At the bottom of the screen, click on Use
  • On the next screen, click the styles you want to have, then
  • Click on "Download your Collection" (upper right)
  • Go ahead and download, unzip, and install, and you are good to go!
BOTTOM LINE: For docs I'm sharing on Google Drive where I want Greek (and Hebrew) to show up properly I can now use Cardo. If I also want it on my mobile device, use Ubuntu.


  1. I've been trying to display Greek on a web page (using jQuery Mobile) on Android and embedding a font that is supposed to work doesn't seem to. Have you come across a solution to that?

    You can see what I'm doing here, For Greek change the Primary translation to Septuagint or Greek New Testament.

  2. Interesting work, Tom. I really don't know how to create this stuff. I'm just a user! I do note that (from Logos) also does not display Greek properly on my Droid X. OTOH, take a look at what John Dyer is doing with his BibleWebApp. His first version works well on my Droid X:
    The second version, mobile option, is not working, but the desktop one does work on my phone though not as well as it does on my PC.
    So, maybe you can figure out the coding and fonts John is using for him to have Greek properly displayed.