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Converting Old Slavonic heritage fonts

Recently a colleague asked for my help to convert a series of his Old Slavonic editions into a Unicode font. I am not an Old Slavonic scholar myself, so it took me some research to find a solution, and I thought it might be useful to others if I shared the solution here.

The texts were writen in a font called "Cyrillica Bulgarian", produced in the 1990s by a Russian company named Synthesis Soft. I finally found the mention of a converter from this old font to its unicode version, "Cyrillica Bulgaria 10 U", in an article by Prof. Anna-Maria Totomanova from the University of Sofia: Digital Presentation of Bulgarian Lexical heritage. Towards an electronic historical dictionary, in Studia Ceranea 2, 2012, p. 221–232.

The converter has been produced within the frame of two European projects: n° BG051PO001-3.3.06-0024/04.10.2012, "Informatics, Grammar, Lexicograpphy" (ongoing), and n° BG051PO001-3.3-04-0011, "ICT Tools for Diachronic Linguistic Studies" (finished in 2011).
The software is not available for download, but it can be obtained by contacting Prof. Totomanova, or by contacting the heads of the following projects: or It runs as an add-in in MS Word, and installs 3 new Unicode fonts on your computer: one for medieval texts ("Cyrillica Bulgarian 10 U"), and two more suitable for Early Modern Bulgarian texts ("Cyrillica Ochrid 10 U" and "Cyrillica Old Style 10 U").

Here is a short "how-to":

1) Installing the converter

  • Close all other software running on your computer (especially MS Office)
  • Save converter installation file in a non-system folder on your computer (Desktop for instance, or somewhere in My Document)
  • Run the one that corresponds to your version of MS Office (32-bits or 64 bits)

    Nota: if you do knot know what version of Office you are using, here is how to find out:
    • Start a Microsoft Office program (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.).
    • Click the File tab
    • Select Help in the left column. (Or Account if you are using Office 2013)
    • Find the section called About Microsoft [Program Name] in the right column. (Select the About [Program Name] icon in Office 2013)
    • Review the Version information (e.g., Version: 14.0.6112.5000 (32-Bit)) to determine whether you are using a 32- or 64-bit version.

  • Accept the Academic licence agreement, and install the complete version.
  • For your information (no action required): the Converter should at this point have created a new folder on your computer, something like:

    C:\Program Files (x86)\SynthesisSoft\Ancient Bulgarian Converter

    and in this folder you will find 3 PDF files giving the details of the character codes and glyphs for each of the new unicode fonts

    It should also have added these 3 fonts to your computer, and added a new Add-in to MS Word.
  • Reboot your computer

2) Using the converter

  • In MS Word, open a text you want to convert.

    CAUTION: only work on COPIES of your material, in case the converter would accidentally damage a file. This is very important.
  • Go to the "Add-ins" menu, and you should see a "Unicode converter" option. Click on it
  • In the panel, choose the conversion font you prefer.
  • Click on "Convert" to start the procedure. The process can be rather long, so be patient.
  • Once the progression bar disappears, it's done! Click on "Close" and check if your text looks good.

3) Using the converted, unicode texts in Oxygen
Now, your text is OK, but if you want to use it in Oxygen for a digital edition, you have to customize your Oxygen interface so that it uses a the right font.

  • Start Oxygen
  • Go to menu Options > Preferences...
  • Choose "Fonts" on the left menu
  • For "Editor", click on "Choose" to change the font, and select "CyrillicaBulgarian10U", whatever size you want but I would recommend something not too small, like 14 or 16
  • Do the same for "Author default font"
  • Click OK

Now you can prepare digital editions of your Old Slavonic texts!

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