Copy/Paste Hebrew not accurate

Page 1 of 2 (22 items) 1 2 Next >
This post has 21 Replies | 3 Followers

Posts 42
David Jordan | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Sep 16 2010 1:31 PM

Is it possible to copy and paste the Hebrew text EXACTLY as it appears gramaticaly from the BHS or other, into Word or Open Office?  This would include all Masoretic accents in the exact place they appear.

I can get it close, but not perfect.  The other Logos users I've asked can't get it exact either. 

Your help is much appreciated.

For consistency - Let's try to get Gen 1:1 to work.

Posts 433
Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 2:09 PM

We have zero control over how Word  and Open Office display text. Some fonts will look better than others because the default placement of marks is closer to correct if the display engine ignores the font's OpenType tables, but your best bet for a word processor that supports OpenType fonts and Unicode biblical Hebrew on a Mac is probably Mellel. (Disclaimer: I don't own a Mac - this is just what I've heard from folk who do.)

Posts 42
David Jordan | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 2:34 PM

In works from Accordance.  I just assumed it would work from logos as well.

Do you speak for logos?  You said "We have zero control...."

Thanks for the tip on Mellel...

Posts 433
Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 2:51 PM

I don't know anything about the format that Accordance is using to export Hebrew. I can only imagine one of two things: either 1) they export their Hebrew in ASCII or something like it (where the Hebrew is encoded 'backwards', and where if you were to switch fonts to something like TimesNewRoman you'd see that the Hebrew was actually encoded with Roman characters instead of Hebrew) or 2) they've got a Unicode font that looks pretty good without using OpenType tables to handle mark positioning. And if it is #2, then there would be no reason you couldn't use the same font when exporting from Logos, so if you've tried that and you get gibberish, then they're probably doing #1.

Of course, there could be a #3 that I'm just ignorant of because I'm not a Mac guy, but playing around with changing the font on exports from our software and from theirs should be able to show if either of my guesses are right.

Posts 42
David Jordan | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 3:03 PM

I would assume it's number 1, but not sure.  Either way it is possible - and highly desired among those in current academia studying to be preachers of the Word. I would hope this is on their radar for implementation.  Especially since they already have a Tools/Copy Bible Verses


Oh well - maybe it's off to Accordance for me.

Posts 433
Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 3:31 PM

Encoding Hebrew backwards causes all sorts of problems. To name just one: picture a long string of right-to-left Hebrew inside a left-to-right paragraph (like you might see in any academic commentary). What happens if you edit the paragraph so that the Hebrew has to wrap a line, or if the Hebrew is already wrapping a line, what happens if the place where the line wraps has to change? Hebrew encoded from left-to-right will naturally wraps the first word, not the last, and you've produced gibberish. So now instead of letting the word processor handle line wrapping and text flow, you have to do everything by hand, manually inserting line-breaks and reformatting every time you edit a paragraph that includes right-to-left text. (And of course, when you're ready to publish, the typesetters have to understand all the line-wrapping pitfalls as well, or errors could easily creep into the finished product no matter how beautiful the manuscript was.) I don't know why anyone as a writer would willingly put themselves through such pain, when there are much better solutions on the market - solutions that follow industry standards for multi-lingual encoding.

ASCII output is a step backwards, but I can't speak for the Mac development team on if they'll ever offer it as a work around. One hopes that eventually either Apple or Microsoft will get their act together and offer the same level of font display support that has been available on the Windows platform for years. In the meantime, if you intend to copy out longer strings of Hebrew (more than one or two words at a time), you're going to be much happier with a word processor that fully supports Unicode than you will be trying to fight with ASCII.

Posts 42
David Jordan | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 3:56 PM

don't know the ins and outs of the issue - but it doesn't work on a few words either, let alone a line that needs to wrap.  Again - if Logos is "made for mac" then I just assumed copy/paste would work, even in Hebrew.

Either way Vincent - God is sovereign.  He knew I would buy Logos.  He knows I don't have extra money to spend.  He knows I need to write papers using the Biblical Hebrew.  He is still in control of all things.  I live in His created world and am very grateful for the resources Logos has labored to create (and apple for that matter).  I've already taught many lessons this year utilizing this incredible software...and will continue to do so in the future.

Think I'll wait until a Logos developer chimes in.  Thanks for the info.  It was helpful.

Posts 2586
Forum MVP
John Fidel | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 4:15 PM


The problem exists with Word for Mac. Accordance does not paste RTL either. Search their forums and you will find the same problem exists and the problem is Word for Mac. They also recommend Mellel for the best results copying Hebrew. I am using Word 2008. Vincent is correct in his analysis of the issue.




Posts 1246
David Mitchell | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 4:45 PM

David Jordan:
Think I'll wait until a Logos developer chimes in.

I'm chiming in, as requested.

Few people know more than Vincent about the rendering of ancient languages on the screen, and everything that he's said is accurate, to the best of my knowledge. Apple has some significant shortcomings when it comes to rendering ancient languages such as Hebrew and Syriac, and there's not much that we can do about it outside the bounds of our own application.

As others have indicated, if you need to use Hebrew in a word processor on a Mac, the only viable solutions that I know of are to install Windows on a VM or to use Mellel ( The makers of Mellel, like us, have a strong interest in making sure that ancient languages display properly, so they've gone through the trouble of working around Apple's shortcomings in this area. You can get it for US$50 (or less, if you're in education). My understanding is that it's got a bit of a learning curve to it, but it really is your best option for writing documents with Hebrew on the Mac.

David Mitchell
Development Lead

Posts 2793
J.R. Miller | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 5:32 PM

Mac OSX for academic writing has some serious drawbacks. Pages, for example, can't even process multiple Table of Contents so in my dissertation I can't even auto-generate a Table of Tables independent of my TOC.  And until recently, programs like Endnote could not even work properly with any mac Word Processor.  IMHO, Logos has done a good a job as any other software I use, but as a Mac guy, I am forced to recognize the superiority of Windows for many academic tasks.  Sad, but true....

My Books in Logos & FREE Training

Posts 42
David Jordan | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 9:28 PM

David and Joe - Oh, that is not good.  That certainly wasn't in the demo... =8-)

guess I'll have to see the Accordance working properly with my own eyes, as a few fellow students who've used the Hebrew fonts for the last 3 years haven't had any issues...though maybe they've missed a few things.

I suppose another alternative is to simply type out the Hebrew Text.  Do either of you know (or Vincent) if this is a dead issue with Logos then, in that they have determined it's not worth the hassle or isn't possible at this time?

Appreciate the feedback and your suggestions!

(ps, Greek exegetical papers start next semester.  Do you know if those fonts work on a mac?  thanks)

Posts 2793
J.R. Miller | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 9:43 PM

David Jordan:
  Do either of you know (or Vincent) if this is a dead issue with Logos then, in that they have determined it's not worth the hassle or isn't possible at this time?
I am no expert on Hebrew or its use in Mac which is why I restricted my comments to some other problems I have had personally with using my Mac for academic work.  I will defer to the experts (Vincent and David) when it comes to the core issue at hand.


My Books in Logos & FREE Training

Posts 2793
J.R. Miller | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 9:46 PM

David Jordan:
(ps, Greek exegetical papers start next semester.  Do you know if those fonts work on a mac?  thanks)
I tested some Greek copy and paste into pages and it looks beautiful.. footnotes and all!

My Books in Logos & FREE Training

Posts 91
Seth Hewitt | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2010 11:28 PM


This is not a Logos problem. It is a Pages problem; Word for Mac does not support right-to-left text. As everyone mentioned, Mellel displays right-to-left text great, but then again, it's an Israeli company, so they have a vested interest in Hebrew displaying properly.

David Jordan:
I suppose another alternative is to simply type out the Hebrew Text.

Typing the text will work no better. The placement of the diacritical marks will be just as bad. The way that the word processing program reads the font tables determines how/where they place the diacritical marks. Pages is not very sophisticated in that regard and has no ability to adjust diacritic positioning. I no longer use Pages (or Mellel) for any papers or other seminary work. Because I've used it forever in my work over the years, I use Adobe InDesign ME (Middle Eastern) edition page layout software. It works beautifully with any Hebrew, Arabic, or other Middle Eastern font. All this is to say that it can be done on a Mac, but the word processing options aren't very good. I don't suggest that you go buy InDesign. It has a steep learning curve and is rather expensive, although affordable with a student discount. I just bring this up to say that the problem is not a Logos one.

As to fonts, I would suggest that you stick with Times New Roman. It seems to work better with Pages—and is less sensitive and finicky—than other fonts. I can get better results with it than any of my other Hebrew fonts, but it's still not good.

David Jordan:
Greek exegetical papers start next semester.  Do you know if those fonts work on a mac?

Greek, being left-to-right text, works like a champ with any of these programs. You'll have no problems there.


BTW, I've never tried Open Office, so I can't speak to that.


Posts 42
David Jordan | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 17 2010 8:22 AM

just found out Accordance uses "Yehudit" fonts and have an option to check "unicode" for copy/paste functionality (yes...i'm hearing what it said about how it will be handled by the mac).  Thanks for all your help Vincent and others!  I've learned much.

Posts 1
Brian Owen | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 12 2010 1:42 PM

OK, I have found an acceptable solution for MAC. Use OpenOffice3 from Once you open the writer program, you can open the preferences under the Open Office menu and then expand language settings. From there you will find the "Enhanced Language Support" section where you will check to enable support for Asian languages and support for complex text layout (CTL). Once you enable these, you can click OK in the preferences. You will then see 2 new buttons on the toolbar, the Right-to-left and the Left-to-right buttons. When you are going to paste hebrew in a table or place make sure that right-to-left is selected for the cursor location to paste. I have been succesful in using this for a few weeks now.

Posts 15805
Forum MVP
Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 12 2010 5:18 PM

Brian Owen:
OK, I have found an acceptable solution for MAC

Thanks - learned Open Office 3 preferences do not need a document open:

Keep Smiling Smile

Posts 42
David Jordan | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 13 2010 10:50 AM

the right to left is helpful.  nice find.

the masoretic vowell pointings don't paste accurately even with this setting in OO for me though.  try gen 1:1.  see the discussion above.  notice the pointings under the first word are crunched together.

Posts 82
David L Adams | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 14 2010 6:48 AM

David (et al.):

I will try to flesh out this problem in as brief and non-technical a way as possible. Also, let me say at the outset that I am a seminary professor, and I have no financial connection to any of the companies mentioned below, except insofar as I am a customer of theirs.

The two issues here are the use of Unicode vs. ASCII for character encoding and the partial implementation of Unicode. Logos uses Unicode internally and exports only in Unicode. Accordance uses ASCII internally and will export in either ASCII or Unicode (a preference setting). Unicode is preferable from both a theoretical and a long-term practical perspective, but is problematic at the moment because most software developers have only implemented half of what is required to use Unicode properly. Using Unicode properly requires both the ability to access the Unicode encoding structure (the fonts), and also the rendering scheme that enables right-to-left typefaces and the compositing of complex character sets (such as in modern Arabic or Thai). Most software that claims to be 'Unicode compatible' does only the former. Thus they can display the font, but they cannot handle the layout of right-to-left languages or left-to-right languages that require complex compositing. This leads to the kinds of spacing problems that you have experienced.

Microsoft has built its own custom routines for handling Unicode layout into the Windows OS and its applications call those routines. So Word, PowerPoint etc. handle right-to-left languages properly in their Windows versions. However, the Mac version of Microsoft apps cannot call those custom routines because they do not exist in the Mac OS, (the Mac OS does provide for support of right-to-left languages under the Language and Text system preferences tab, but obviously it does not use Microsofts proprietary routines) and Microsoft has heretofore not allowed its programmers to implement any of a number of possible work-arounds. I have complained to Microsoft for at more than 5 years about this, but they have steadfastly declined to address the issue in their Mac software. This not only makes it difficult to do Hebrew on a Mac -- Greek works pretty well since it is left-to-right and only rarely has complex compositing problems -- but also makes it almost impossible to share documents with overseas colleagues such as the ones I work with in Israel and Thailand. (The best solution there is to exchange docs in RTF format, but that is another discussion.)

At the moment there are two solutions. The first is to work in ASCII instead of Unicode. This requires an ASCII-based Hebrew font and a text that is encoded using the same font mapping. This solution is not available to Logos users since Logos does not support ASCII export. As I said above, this solution will work for Accordance users since the program will export in ASCII and users will have the Accordance fonts that match the exported text. The second solution is to use a word processing program that does support the proper layout of Unicode text on a Macintosh. Of these, the best (as others have noted above) is Mellel. Because it is written by developers in Israel, Mellel does a very good job of handling Unicode layout. Other software packages handle the problem, but not quite as well. Here is a screen-shot of Gen. 1.1 in Mellel:



Brian noted above that Open Office 3 works fairly well. I have not tried it. I believe that Nisus Writer also handles this moderately well. However, neither of them is as good as Mellel for this. That is why my recommendation for those who have/want to work in Unicode is to use Mellel.

The problem is worse for those who want to use presentation software. No presentation software that I know of on the Mac handles this issue correctly. The only solution that I know of is to cut and paste or export text in ASCII format from Accordance (or another ASCII text) or type it by hand using an ASCII font for use in PowerPoint or Keynote.

One further thing should be said. I work with this problem every day, both for my own work and in helping graduate students working in both the Windows and the Macintosh environments. The ugly truth is that NOBODY really handles this (Unicode layout) well yet. Even students working exclusively in Word for Windows often get unpredictable and problematic results when pasting complex Unicode text into the middle of English text (as in a single word in the middle of an English sentence). As an illustration of how difficult and complex the problem is, I find that the situation differs from text-to-text, even within Logos. For example, there are more problems when copying text from the SESB version of BHS in Logos than when copying from the W4 version of the Hebrew text within Logos. All of this can be very frustrating for students (and the rest of us too!). It is just that we are still at a relative early stage in the process of transitioning from ASCII to Unicode, and not all the problems have been ironed out yet. I await with baited breath to see if the next release of Word for Mac will address this issue, but I doubt that it will. I have been told by people who work for Microsoft that this is a 'political' decision by Microsoft management and not an unsolvable technical problem.

I hope that this has helped a bit to clarify the nature of the problem, and why there is no really simple answer to it at this time. Please let me know if I can help further. I am delighted to assist to the extent that time allows.

Dr. David L. Adams
Concordia Seminary
St. Louis, Mo. 

Posts 82
David L Adams | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 14 2010 6:50 AM

For some reason the screen shot did not come through the first time. Here it is again:

Sorry about that.

–– DLA

Page 1 of 2 (22 items) 1 2 Next > | RSS