This page is about the encoding and fonts that are used on the Myanmar Wikipedia. To get started right away, just skip to the external links to download a Unicode 5.1 font, install it and join the community.

For more help, consult here: Wikipedia:Myanmarsar Help.

Why Unicode?

Unicode is a standard that defines how text should be saved into data and how it is read and written. Almost every script in the world, including Burmese, is defined in the Unicode Standard. Carefully designed by experts of the field around the world, this international standard is supported by virtually all the latest platforms--not only in major operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux but also in OSes of mobile phones and many electronic devices. The Unicode Standard is the most well-known encoding scheme to support the largest number of scripts/languages in a single page of code. More information is available at See discussion on Unicode usage in Wikipedia. All Wikipedias, including the English language Wikipedia, use Unicode as it is Wikimedia Foundation policy.

The following table shows the differences in language support between Zawgyi-One and Unicode fonts. Zawgyi-One and other pseudo-Unicode fonts require nearly twice as many characters as Unicode fonts to support just one language: Burmese. Unlike Zawgyi-One and other pseudo-Unicode fonts, Unicode fonts use intelligent rendering to stack consonants and combine diacritics.

Unicode versus Zawgyi-One
Unicode Zawgyi-One
Bigger version here. Uncolored version here.
  Sanskrit and Pali
  S'gaw Karen
  Western Pwo Karen
  Eastern Pwo Karen
  Geba Karen
  Rumai Palaung
  No character
Bigger version here. Uncolored version here.
  No character for pseudo-Unicode
  No character

Why use Unicode?

  • It is the international accepted standard by the World Wide Web Consortium, the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web.
  • The fonts necessary to view and edit are freely available.
  • Search is seamless with Unicode.
  • Unicode makes it extremely easy to translate the Wikipedia's interface.
  • Unicode fonts support 11 languages that use the Myanmar script:
    • Burmese
    • 2 liturgical languages: Pali and Sanskrit
    • 8 minority languages: Mon, Shan, Kayah, four Karen languages and Rumai Palaung

Why not Zawgyi?

Although Zawgyi is currently the most widely used solution for input in Myanmar-language websites, it is not Unicode-compliant and does not meet the standards set by the Unicode Standard (nor does it meet the W3C standards, which define the standards for the World Wide Web). Also, there are multiple ways of storing text, which makes search challenging.

However, for those who use Zawgyi and would like to contribute to the Myanmar Wikipedia, several converters (Zawgyi → Unicode 5.1) are available below:

An online typewriter that supports Zawgyi as well as Unicode fonts is available at Burglish System tester

  • Those who have Zawgyi or pseudo-Unicode fonts in their computers find their computers may display incorrect text and might affect other Unicode-supported applications.
  • There are serious problems with encoding and typing in Zawgyi.
    • When users type in Zawgyi, typing in different ordering will create different words. These different words, even though they may render the same, are not stored the same (so search is impossible if words are typed in different ordering). On the other hand, in Unicode, there is only correct way to store text, and incorrect ordering in typing is visible as you type (this means that searching for text is more difficult with Zawgyi).
      Unicode stores text in only one order and render correctly:  
      Zawgyi can store text in several ways but superficially appear correct:  
    • Many Zawgyi users type the number "zero" when they intend to input the consonant "wa." This creates a problem, because converters cannot intelligently find the instances where "zero" is intended and "wa" is intended. When using Unicode, "wa" and "zero" are separate (intelligent rendering shows you if you have typed "zero" instead of "wa").
      Unicode can intelligently tell apart wa and zero:  
      Zawgyi cannot intelligently render zero and wa separately:  
  • Zawgyi uses extra code points which are reserved for minority languages of Myanmar (Shan, Mon, Pwo Karen, S'gaw Karen, Geba Karen, Kayah and Rumai Palaung, as well as Sanskrit and Pali). This creates a conflict, because Unicode has reserved those points to support minority languages in Myanmar, not for Burmese characters that should be intelligently rendered by Unicode engines.
  • Zawgyi uses reserved code points for stacking Burmese consonants and creating combinations of diacritics and medials, whereas Unicode smartly renders these, so fewer code points are required for one language.
    Unicode can intelligently render yayit according to letter width with just one symbol:  
    Zawgyi needs to use two different symbols (total 8 different symbols for short head and short leg forms) for yayit:  

External links

Unicode Myanmar/Burmese fonts

These are links for fonts that conform to the Burmese script encoded in Unicode 5.1 and above (all of them are available for free) -

Other sites