Transliteration Standards

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Multi-Lingual Characters

If you already have fonts on your computer capable of showing Polish and Russian (Cyrillic) characters then it is possible you can continue to use those fonts for entering data for JRI-PL. HOWEVER you should check carefully that the fonts use the same internal ASCII codes as our STANDARD fonts.

If you need to use German characters (umlauts and eszet) then you will find that virtually all 'Western' fonts contain these characters and you will not need a special font to incorporate German characters in the data. Please ensure however that the ASCII codes used are the same as those shown below.

Most foreign-language fonts have the special accented characters in the extended ASCII region (ASCII codes over 128). To key these special characters you will normally need to key the ASCII codes rather than typing individual keys. To key these codes you need to hold down the ALT key while typing the ASCII code ON THE NUMERIC KEYPAD. Typing the ordinary number keys at the top of your keyboard will not work - you MUST use the numeric keypad. When entering the ASCII codes you must enter a 4-digit code which normally means you type a leading 0 before the rest of the ASCII code. For example if you have chosen a Polish font and want to key an Ó you would hold down the ALT key and type 0243 on your numeric keypad.


For Polish these are the ASCII codes we use for the various accented characters. It is important that we store the accented characters (particularly the a-ogonek and e-ogonek) since these affect the SOUND of the words and hence the matches produced by the JRI-PL systems.

Note that in handwritten Polish it is quite easy to confuse lower case barred-l (the l with a bar through it) and lower case t. If the writing is neat then usually the l has the bar through the very top of the upright whereas the letter t tends to have the bar lower down.

You may also sometimes see a letter that looks like a lower-case 'f', but usually without the bar across it. This is actually a lower-case 's', and is also found in old English and German (for example a surname that looks like Groffwaser or Grofswaser is actually Grosswaser).

If you do not have a Polish font for your PC , or if your existing font does not use ALL of the appropriate ASCII codes, you can download fonts from our website.

Russian Cyrillic

For Russian (Cyrillic) the table on the left shows the following:

  • The printed cyrillic characters.
  • The equivalent handwritten characters. (You will note that in several cases the handwritten letters bear little resemblance to their printed equivalents.)
  • Our agreed Roman-Equivalent characters. These can be used to convert the cyrillic text into roughly equivalent Polish.
  • The ASCII codes needed for each character.

Prior to the Russian Revolution there were additional characters sometimes used. These are listed at the foot of the table. You will not encounter these characters very often.

If you do not have a Russian Cyrillic font for your PC , or if your existing font does not use ALL of the appropriate ASCII codes, you can download fonts from our website.

Note that there are several handwritten cyrillic characters which can be very difficult to differentiate between, particularly when the writing is not very clear. You will sometimes see little horizontal lines above and below letters on the records and indexes. These appear to have been used by some clerks to identify confusing letters (they obviously realised themselves that some letters were very hard to distinguish between!).

Lower case m can look very like lower case t and you will sometimes see a line above the to show it is a 't'.

Similarly, lower case m can also look very like lower case sz and you will sometimes see a line below the to show it is a 'sz'.

Lower case n can look very like lower case p and you will sometimes see a line above the to show it is a 'p'.

Finally, lower case k can also look very like lower case n and there is very little you can do to differentiate between them.

Clearly the more times names appear the better chance you have of resolving any areas of doubt over the characters used. If this still does not help then it can be useful to study index entries for the town in both the Polish and Cyrillic periods. Since the 'problem' letters in each language are different you can often spot immediately the correct spelling of names by simply examining index records for the same town in the other language. The language used in the vast majority of 'Polish' records was Polish up to 1867, then Cyrillic from 1868 to 1917, reverting to Polish thereafter.


As mentioned above, no special fonts should be needed to incorporate German umlaut and eszet characters into the data. However it is useful to list the full set of characters together with the old Fraktur typeface and handwritten script.

The table below shows the ASCII codes to be used for umlauts and eszet:

         Ä ä 0196 0228
         Ë ë 0203 0235
         Ü ü 0220 0252
         ß   0223

Again note the lower-case 's' variant that looks like a lower-case 'f', but usually without the bar across it.