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Hononga Whaipanga

Mahinga Tohuto  - Using macrons

If you are writing in Maori you will need to become familiar with macrons and how to use them.

In written Maori macrons are the line you can see above vowels from time to time. For example, there is a macron over the ‘a’ in Maori.

Most of the issues relating to macrons come about when using computers or preparing written Maori material for print.

Find out about using macrons:

In computing

Up until recently, computer programs did not generally support macrons and frequently government departments and other organisations have developed their own versions of typefaces to support macrons.

Now with the development of Unicode characters in computer programs it is becoming easier to use these functions. In the latest Windows and Macintosh systems Unicode is supported. To find out how to use the characters we suggest you use your system’s help menu and search for ‘unicode characters’.

If you are using an older system an acceptable alternative has been to use the umlaut over vowels – that is two small dots over the vowel, for example, Mäori. The umlaut is available in earlier systems which do not support Unicode.

Distributing documents with Unicode macrons

At the moment many people who receive documents which use Unicode macrons may not be able to read them because they are using an older system or a programme which does not support Unicode.

What this means is that all the vowels with macrons will drop out of the document leaving gaps.

To avoid this we suggest that files which you wish to email to recipients should be saved as PDF (Portable Document Format) files with fonts embedded. These are the files that are read by programmes like Adobe Acrobat Reader. Because these files are essentially turned into pictures, any recipient will be able to read them with macrons intact regardless of whether or not their operating system supports Unicode.

Commercial printing of documents containing macrons

When you or your graphic designer sends a document for offset printing, macrons can create difficulties because the special software associated with the printing press may not yet support Unicode or other systems of macronising. To avoid this it is wise to ensure your designer understands the necessity of working with macrons and is able to work around this issue with the printer, it is also wise to build extra time into your publication process to deal with any unforeseen issues relating specifically to macrons.

For smaller print runs printed digitally, similar problems may arise. However one simple solution with digital printing can be to print from a PDF file which will ensure that the macrons you typed remain readable.