Typography Keyboard Layout: Download Now!


In January we commissioned Ilya Birman1, a Russian designer with passion for typography, to adapt his typography keyboard layout (which has become a common typographer’s tool in Russia) to create a version for English-speaking designers, artists and, of course, typographers across the globe.

The main idea was to provide the web design community with a handy tool that would let designers enter characters that are usually unavailable on a keyboard easier and quicker. If you already tried to enter such words like naïve or résumé or used special symbols (trademark symbol ™) or pay attention to punctuation (en-dash, em-dash, hyphen etc.) and diacritics (accents, cedillas, etc.), you probably know what we mean.

We asked our Twitter followers2 to participate in our beta-testing. And after we received a lot of positive feedback3, we implemented some of your suggestions in the final version.


In this post we release the Typography Keyboard Layout – a simple, yet useful tool that lets you enter characters that are usually unavailable on a keyboard with ease. Hopefully it will help you to achieve better typography in your designs.

Typography Keyboard Layout (Win / Mac)

Good designers, undoubtedly, know that quotation marks look like “this” and not like "this." The latter are typewriter legacy and today are to be used solely in programming. Good designers also know, that dash is not the same as hyphen.

The most common use for hyphens in English is (surprisingly enough) hyphenation; dashes are used in ranges (2006–2009) or — and this is an example — as an alternative to parentheses. Good designers never use letter ‘x’ instead of multiplication sign in 1920×1440, and they never put (c) instead of © under their work. Oh, and they also do good designs.

So, now life is going to be a little bit easier. No more will you need to open Character Palette or try to recover that Alt+0163 combination from your memory.

Meet Typography Layout for Mac and Windows


This thing is a regular keyboard layout, except that with Alt key on Mac or Alt Gr key on Windows it lets you type all these nice characters seamlessly.

Just type Alt+T, and you get a ™. Everyday things are apostrophe (Alt + '), quotes (Alt + < >), em-dash (Alt + -) and en-dash (Alt + Shift + -). Other stuff is intended to be not so hard to remember if you use it. For example, Alt+v is for ↓ , since the letter ‘v’ looks somewhat like arrow pointing down. Alt+A is ≈ for approximately, Alt+S is § for section. Guess why Alt+8 is ∞ and Alt+R is ®. So, you get the idea.


The layout also supports many kinds of diacritics, so you can type words like naïve or café and have fun. On the picture above (see full image for Mac7 or full image for Windows8) the diacritical keys are printed on a beige background, e.g. acute is on / and diaeresis is on : .

To type character é, you first press Alt + Shift + / (this kind of means “enter acute mode”), then press e. To type ï, press Alt + Shift + : , then press i. Not every character has a version with every possible accent. For example, there is no letter v with circumflex. In case you want to use such a character, you need to use combining diacritics. Press v and then Alt + Shift + ^ twice. You can hold Alt + Shift and double press ^ .

The best way to understand how it works is to play with it. But please note that many applications do not support combining diacritics, so whether you can use them or not is more or less question of your luck :-)

Get it for free!

Download and see install instructions.

Bugs, ideas or suggestions?

Please report bugs and fixes directly to Ilya Birman and please leave your comments, ideas and suggestions for further improvements in the comments to this post.


  1. 1 http://ilyabirman.ru/english/
  2. 2 http://twitter.com/smashingmag/status/1220322244
  3. 3 http://forum.smashingmagazine.com/post6881.html
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/typography-keyboard-layout/full-mac.gif
  5. 5 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/typography-keyboard-layout/full-mac.gif
  6. 6 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/typography-keyboard-layout/full-mac.gif
  7. 7 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/typography-keyboard-layout/full-mac.gif
  8. 8 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/typography-keyboard-layout/full-win.gif
  9. 9 http://ilyabirman.ru/download/ilya-birman-smashing-magazine-typolayout-2.1.0-mac.zip
  10. 10 http://ilyabirman.ru/download/ilya-birman-smashing-magazine-typolayout-2.1.0-win.zip
  11. 11 http://ilyabirman.ru/english/typography-layout/
  12. 12 http://ilyabirman.ru/english/typography-layout/
  13. 13 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/typography-keyboard-layout/layout-image-source.zip
  14. 14 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/typography-keyboard-layout/pdf-mac.pdf
  15. 15 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/typography-keyboard-layout/pdf-win.pdf
  16. 16 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/typography-keyboard-layout/full-mac.gif
  17. 17 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/typography-keyboard-layout/full-win.gif

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  1. 1

    thank you very much ……………it’s great effort

  2. 102
  3. 203

    Aleksandar, it must be available on Alt+/. I don’t specify it on a picture, since I don’t recommend using it.

    • 304

      Hi, Ilya.
      I have a problem. Layout does not work with Adobe Illustrator. Do you have solution?
      I use Win 7 and CS5. MS Office does not have that problem.

  4. 506

    Indoubtly a great tool for designers et al! I’m looking forward for the source to make a Brazilian version of it.

  5. 607

    would it be possible to get a copy of the Illustrator file in a legacy CS or CS2 format?

  6. 708

    Accents are not available at Alt+Shift+/ followed by the character, at least to me. Anybody got them working?

  7. 809

    Drew Gallagher

    May 9, 2009 3:58 pm

    I would love to see this for Linux.

  8. 910

    I can’t seem to get it working on my laptop. I’m using macbook unibody, I tried to write something on TextWrangler, but the tool still not override mac default shortcut. I know some of you said that mac already provide us with simple shortcuts, but I’m just curious to try this tool. Anyone can help..? thanks in advance..!

  9. 1011

    Awesome and extremely useful. Thanks for all the amazing free stuff!!

  10. 1112

    I am using a 2007 MacBook Pro with OS X 10.5.7 and the keyboard layout does not work.
    I also tried changing the active layout to your layout but then no keys at all work.

  11. 1213

    Well…on a Mac, holding down the alt/option key and hitting nearly any key on the keyboard supplies you with a few of these characters already.

    Now… the diacritics on the other hand could be quite useful.

  12. 1314

    Works fine on Windows 7 Pro and Windows 7 Ultimate release from 22nd October. Both English and Russian keyboard layout.
    Huge Thank You for your work! Also keyboard is very intuitive and easy to use, and get used to, but something like “Widget” with a little graphic keyboard layout with buttons would make it perfect.

  13. 1415

    What’s up all, I’m redone to the forum and just wanted to translate hey.

  14. 1516

    This tool looks amazing, thanks Smashing Mag!

  15. 1617

    To clarify this passage: “The most common use for hyphens in English is (surprisingly enough) hyphenation; dashes are used in ranges (2006–2009) or — and this is an example — as an alternative to parentheses.”

    Hyphens are used only for hyphenation. For ranges, the en dash is used, not a hyphen: 2006–2009.

    And an em dash is used for an alternative to parentheses — this is an example.

    On the Mac, an en dash is option-dash, and an em dash is option-shift-dash.

    Designers often track out some space to either side of the en and em dash for visual appeal, depending on the font.

  16. 1718

    Hey pepole I would like to pan off up hello i like assemble latest pepole, and allocate bits with them

  17. 1819

    Really cool, I wish this was in html though.

  18. 1920

    Please stop describing this as a “standard English layout” when it is actually a standard US layout. I don’t know about the antipodes, since they probably don’t care too much about the Euro symbol, but since the English (and Scots, Welsh) are European, your layout does not match what we consider normal.

    • 2021

      Seconded. And this still doesn’t work terribly well on a UK keyboard (grave accents, but how do you get any others?). Or is it a Win7 problem? Who knows?

      Close, but as long as I have to switch to US layout to use it, no thanks.

  19. 2122


    Those who have been asking for the layout in other languages should download as well (see my previous post) as I’ve included instructions on how to make your own modifications.

  20. 2223

    New download link for Typography UK Keyboard Layout:


    MD5: D3ACDF957C05A48690B9B9C2CE9AD597

  21. 2324

    install problem?
    the instructions say..
    Copy both files found in archive to /Library/Keyboard Layouts.
    Go to System Preferences, open International, then Input Menu.
    Enable the layout:
    English — Ilya Birman Typography.

    When I open System preferences I do not have an option international. Is it inside some other option? Could someone please clarify how to do step 2. I am using Mac OS X 10.6.6 (10J567)

  22. 2425

    To state that “Good designers also know, that dash is not the same as hyphen” is certainly an understatement. Mediocre designers and even bad ones have to know this, or else how could they be called designers? If they don’t know something so basic they are called “charlatans.”

  23. 2526

    I love and use this layout regularly, so thank you for your efforts on this.

    If I may make a suggestion, I would like to see the option for entering a Thin Space, probably as Alt Gr + Shift + Space. These are generally used around an Em-Dash to slightly separate it from the surrounding words.

  24. 2627

    This PC keyboard map is correct. But the Mac one is the same as the PC and so it is incorrect. For example, on the Mac, you need to type Option-2 to get the TM for trademark. Thanks.

  25. 2728

    It should be noted that this has been updated to version 3.0 now with more symbols and smarter layout.

    Check Ilya Birman’s website to see.


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