You don’t need to purchase expensive software for offline work with Hebrew — not since the amazing open source programmers behind LibreOffice, the Document Foundation, developed a free and open source solution for working with Right-to-Left texts like Hebrew. Until the Open Siddur web application is available for crafting siddurim and other curricular resources on Jewish liturgy, we recommend LibreOffice.
LibreOffice is a free/libre office suite containing a powerful and user-friendly text editor: LibreOffice Writer. LibreOffice is cross-platform — it can be installed and run on Linux, Macintosh, and Windows operating systems.
Unlike many other text-based applications LibreOffice natively supports open standards and document formats. That way, what you type today should still be readable in the digital world twenty or a hundred years from now. Also, unlike many other text editors it correctly positions niqqud/vowels and ta’amim/cantillation when using Hebrew fonts that correctly support the full range of Hebrew diacritics.
In order to get to work working with Hebrew in LibreOffice, follow the following steps:
- Download our Open Source Unicode Hebrew Font Pack and install the fonts on your operating system. There are six fonts that support the full range of Hebrew diacritics (niqqud/vowels and ta’amim/cantillation): Ezra SIL/SR, Cardo, Taamey Frank CLM, Keter YG, Keter Aram Tsova, Taamey David CLM, and Taamey Frank CLM.
- Set up a Hebrew Keyboard Layout for your operating system supporting the full range of Hebrew diacritics.
- For Windows, a keyboard layout installer is included inside the font pack — look inside the directory named “Keyboards.” Once installed, press Alt-Shift to switch between languages.
- For Macs, download this keyboard layout and install. Then follow these instructions from Apple.
- Download and install LibreOffice
- Open LibreOffice Writer. Select Options –> Language Settings –> Languages.
- Under “Enhanced Language Support” check the checkbox “Enabled for Complex Text Layout (CTL).”
- Under “Default Languages for Documents” see the option for CTL, and select Hebrew from the drop menu.
- Select the Hebrew Font you’d like to type in.
Set the text direction on the toolbar by clicking on the following toolbar button (or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+D)
- Begin typing.