Writing Greek Letters on the Computer

Writing Greek Letters in HTML

Greek letter sigma
Greek letter sigma.

If you write anything scientific or mathematical on the internet, you will quickly find the need for several special characters that are not readily available on your keyboard. ASCII characters for HTML allow you to use many characters not included in an English keyboard, including the Greek alphabet.

To make the right character appear on the page, start with an ampersand (&) and a pound sign (#), followed by a 3-digit number, and ending with a semicolon (;).

On the list of ASCII codes for Greek letters shown below, there is a space between the # and the first number (9). You must remove this space to make the code work.

Creating Greek Letters

This table contains many Greek letters but not all of them. It only contains uppercase and lowercase letters that are not available on a keyboard. For example, you can type the capital alpha (A) in Greek with a regular capital ​A because these letters look the same in Greek and English. You can also use the code &#913 or &Alpha. The results are the same.

These codes below are presented with an extra space between the ampersand and the code. To use these codes, delete the extra space. Not all symbols are supported by all browsers. Check before you publish. You may need to add the following bit of code in the head part of your HTML document:

<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">

HTML Codes for Greek Letters

CharacterDisplayedHTML Code
capital gammaΓ& #915; or & Gamma;
capital deltaΔ& #916; or & Delta;
capital thetaΘ& #920; or & Theta;
capital lambdaΛ& #923; or & Lamda;
capital xiΞ& #926; or & Xi;
capital piΠ& #928; or & Pi;
capital sigmaΣ& #931; or & Sigma;
capital phiΦ& #934; or & Phi;
capital psiΨ& #936; or & Psi;
capital omegaΩ& #937; or & Omega;
small alphaα& #945; or & alpha;
small betaβ& #946; or & beta;
small gammaγ& #947; or & gamma;
small deltaδ& #948; or & delta;
small epsilonε& #949; or & epsilon;
small zetaζ& #950; or & zeta;
small etaη& #951; or & zeta;
small thetaθ& #952; or & theta;
small iotaι& #953; or & iota;
small kappaκ& #954; or & kappa;
small lamdaλ& #955; or & lambda;
small muμ& #956; or & mu;
small nuν& #957; or & nu;
small xiξ& #958; or & xi;
small piπ& #960; or & pi;
small rhoρ& #961; or & rho;
small sigmaσ& #963; or & sigma;
small tauτ& #964; or & tau;
small upsilonυ& #965; or & upsilon;
small phiφ& #966; or & phi;
small chiχ& #967; or & chi;
small psiψ& #968; or & psi;
small omegaω& #969; or & omega;

History of the Greek Alphabet

The Greek alphabet went through several changes over the centuries. Before the fifth century B.C., there were two similar Greek alphabets, the Ionic and Chalcidian. The Chalcidian alphabet may have been the forerunner of the Etruscan alphabet and, later, the Latin alphabet. It is the Latin alphabet that forms the basis of most European alphabets. Meanwhile, Athens adopted the Ionic alphabet; as a result, it is still used in modern Greece.

While the original Greek alphabet was written in all capitals, three different scripts were created to make it easier to write quickly. These include uncial, a system for connecting capital letters, as well as the more familiar cursive and minuscule. Minuscule is the basis for modern Greek handwriting.

Why You Should Know the Greek Alphabet

Even if you never plan to learn Greek, there are good reasons to familiarize yourself with the alphabet. Mathematics and science use Greek letters like pi (π) to complement the numeric symbols. That same sigma in its capital form (Σ) can stand for sum, while the uppercase letter delta (Δ) can mean change.

Greek letters are used to designate fraternities, sororities, and philanthropic organizations.

Additionally, some books in English are numbered using the letters of the Greek alphabet. Sometimes, both lowercase and capitals are employed for simplification. Thus, you may find that the books of the "Iliad" are written Α to Ω and those of the "Odyssey," α to ω.