Hieroglyph User Guide

Egyptological Hieroglyph User Guide

Basic Use

The simplest use is to display a single hieroglyph by enclosing it within hieroglyph tags like this [hieroglyph]M5[/hieroglyph]:


In place of M5, you may use any of the Gardiner codes shown in the Gardiner Sign List tables on this site.  If you prefer, then you may use one of the standard mnemonic (phoneme) codes.  These are shown in the tables below the Gardiner code if there is one for that symbol: there is no mnemonic for some signs.  Some people confuse transliteration with Manuel de Codage (MdC) markup for display.  If a code isn’t shown in the tables, then it won’t work with the exception of < and > (and their derivatives) which are the accepted codes for opening and closing cartouches respectively.

Combining Hieroglyphs to Create Texts

Hieroglyphs are separated using the – or -! symbols.  In the usual horizontal text – separates hieroglyphs and -! means start a new line.  (Note that you need -! not just ! for a new line.)   So in [hieroglyph]A1-A2-!B1[/hieroglyph] the – means that A2 follows A1 on the same line, and B1 starts a new line, like this:


In vertical text, – places the following hieroglyph in the next slot in the display column working downwards and ! creates a new column.

Whitespace Characters

If you prefer you may separate hieroglyphs using a space instead of a dash; however, you must avoid line breaks in your MdC.

Compound Hieroglyphs

Some hieroglyphs are built from a number of parts, called cadrats.  This is an example:


To display that, you would enter [hieroglyph]n:xt:x*t[/hieroglyph].

In this case, : means to place the signs vertically above one another and * means to place them alongside each other. * is done first, so in this example the x and t signs are combined horizontally before the combination of them is placed below the other signs.  Sometimes, the order needs to be reversed and parentheses (brackets) have the usual meaning so that something like this [hieroglyph]p*(t:Z4):pt[/hieroglyph] changes the order as shown below so that the : within the brackets is performed first:


This is called a cadrat group.  If the parentheses are omitted then the output would look like this instead:


Cartouches & Serekhs

Cartouches are very easy – just put the name inside <- -> like this [hieroglyph]G39-N5-.-<i-mn:n-t-G43-t-anx-HqA-iwn-Sma>[/hieroglyph]:


Again, the –  separator is needed to separate the < and > from the other symbols.  If you dislike using < and > you may use Ca1 and Ca2 respectively instead.

Serekhs are contained within <S … S>.


Additional space can be added by using the special signs . and .. which are blanks representing approximately a half and a full glyph. I used it in the example above to give a bit more space before the opening cartouche.


Rotation is supported.  The sign name is followed by a /r90 to rotate the image in the direction it faces by 90° i.e. anti-clockwise.  Replace 90 with any other rotation wanted.

To mirror (flip) an image, use  a trailing / t0 indicate this e.g. A1   To flip and rotate use /t90 for instance: rotation follows the direction after the flip (i.e. clockwise).  For example here is the output of [hieroglyph]G39-G39/r90-G39/t0-G39/t90[/hieroglyph]:


If you prefer you may use /r1, /r2, /r3 to indicate one, two or three quarter turns (90°) to the left (anti-clockwise), or /t1, /t2, /t3 for the equivalent flip and right (clockwise) turns.


By default hieroglyphs are drawn in black.  You may select red by using  -$r- within the MdC string.  -$b- reverts to black.  No other colours are supported.  (The first – is not needed if used at the start of text.) [hieroglyph]$r-G6[/hieroglyph]:


Note: cartouches and serekhs for red text are outstanding.


Damaged glyphs are usally indicated by hatching across the image.  On EO we prefer the more modern approach of using shading over the image instead.

The indication of damage is turned on by using -#- before the damaged glyphs.  This works as a toggle so the second use turns the indication off again.

It is also possible to indicate quadrants of a glyph which have been damaged:

1 2
3 4

So -#1- indicates the top left quadrant and -#12- the top half of a glyph.  Numbers are used only to turn the indication of damaged on: -#- is used to turn the indication of again, for example [hieroglyph]G39-#12-G39-G39-#1-G39-#-G39[/hieroglyph]:


The same approach can be used to indicate damage to an individual glyph by including it the end of the glyph designation, for example [hieroglyph]p*t:Z4:pt#24[/hieroglyph]:


As this example shows, the damage indicated applies to the entire glyph not to constituent cadrats. (There is no way to signal damage to a particular cadrat within a composite glyph.) The trailing use does not affect the damage which is being applied to all glyphs so, if both formats are used, the two damage indications overlay indicating heavy damage. (This should be considered a ‘quirk’ arising from the ambiguous situation in which both damage indications are used.)

If damage is indicated at the front of a glyph designation (e.g. #A1), it is assumed that a dash was omitted and the input will be read as #-A1 turning on the indication of damage for all following glyphs.

NB Although damage shows clearly in the on-screen display, many printers do not print the shading is at has presently been implemented.  The style of shading may change when this part of the algorithm is updated to fix this problem.

Damage – Alternative Style

Many hieroglyphics display progams adopt -#b- and -#e– to turn indication damage on and off respectively as an alternative to the -#- toggle.  Egyptological Hieroglyphs supports this alternative and displays damage indicated this way beneath the more traditional hatching.  Hashing is commonly used in printed books and we recognise that some authors prefer this style.  The use of #b has been extended to allow the specification of damaged quadrants as well [hieroglyph]#b-K1-#b12-G39-#e-A1[/hieroglyph]:


Combining both methods gives glyphs overstruck with both hashing and shading. While consistent with the chosen options, in practice combining both hashing and shading is likely to confuse readers and should be avoided.

Note: while hashing is supported, we cannot guarantee that hashing on successive glyphs tiles perfectly.

Vertical Text

Output is horizontal, left to right, by default.  To specify vertical output, just start your MdC string with !=v- like this [hieroglyph]!=v-H2-H5-H7[/hieroglyph]:


Generally, horizontal layout fits best on the screen. Any text or pictures after the hieroglyphs will be displayed below the vertical text.Sometimes you may wish to “float” hieroglyphs alongside text. To specify a right or left float use !=vr- or !=vl- respectively.

You should not rotate cartouches; this will be done automatically for you.  If you rotate them manually they may not be recognised as cartouches and the enclsing box lines omitted.


For longer text, it can be nice to present text within top and bottom borders.  This is achieved by using a border option within the tag itself, like this [hieroglyph border=”silver”]G39-G39/r90-G39/t0-G39/t90[/hieroglyph]:

[hieroglyph border=”silver”]G39-G39/r90-G39/t0-G39/t90[/hieroglyph]

The colour may be silver, black, red, blue (or any of the other named web safe colors).

Developer Options

The plugin caches images.  During development it can be useful to force an image to be re-created from the underlying font.  This is achieved using the cache=”refresh” option: cache=”no” will read images from the cache if available, but newly created images will not be cached.  There should be no reason for readers to use these options.

The [hieroglyph catalogue=”yes”]A*[/hieroglyph] produces the ‘A’ sign list table. This option is disabled within comments.

The Hieroglyph plugin was developed specially for the EO family of websites by Kate Phizackerley, copyright Kate Phizackerley.