How to Create a APL or Math Symbols Keyboard Layout ⌨

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This page shows you how to create a keyboard layout for inputting math symbols. for {Windows, Mac OS X, Linux}.

For example, you can create APL (programming language) keyboard layout, or for LaTeX/XeTeX, or simply as a system to type math symbols in plain text.

APL Keyboard Layout

APL keyboard layout
APL keyboard layout. image source
APL2 keyboard layout
APL2 keyboard layout. image source

Unicode Font

First, you need to have a font that has the math characters you need. The DejaVu font has all APL symbols and vast majority of math symbols.

Download DejaVu fonts at

For other choices, see: Best Unicode Fonts for Programer

APL Symbols in Unicode

You'll need the Unicode characters when setting up a layout.

Here's a complete list of APL symbols in Unicode.

¯ × ÷


〔➤ APL Symbols Meaning and Code Example

Find Math Symbols

For other math symbols, such as , see:

Or, use the search box.

Unicode Search

Creating Your Own Unicode Layout

mac unicode char
Mac OS X, 【⌥ Opt+key】 can be customized to insert your favorite symbol.


For Mac OS X, see: Mac OS X: How to Create Keyboard Layout and Keybinding ⌨


For Windows, use 〔Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator By Microsoft. @

For more Microsoft Windows keymapping tools, see: Windows: Keyboard Layout Tools, Key Macro Tools ⌨


For other Linux keyboard and keybinding tools, see: Linux Keybinding Tutorial Index ⌨.

Using Emacs

If you are using emacs, you don't need any of the OS layout.

emacs provides you the most flexibility. There are many ways to setup to insert a particular character.

Insert by Keyboard Shortcut

;; example of systematic keys to insert math symbols
(global-set-key (kbd "<f9> <right>") "→")
(global-set-key (kbd "<f9> a") "α")
(global-set-key (kbd "<f9> b") "β")
(global-set-key (kbd "<f9> t") "θ")

The F9 key can be any other key. For example, you can set it to be your capslock, or some key for your thumb.

You can also set up Hyper and ❖ Super keys.

This method of input is:

For more detail, see: Emacs: How to Define Keys.

Insert by Abbrev

You can insert Unicode by abbrev. ⁖ typing alpha becomes α. For how, see: Using Emacs's Abbrev Mode for Abbreviation.

This method is:

Insert by Short Code and Activation Key

Another way is to type a short code, from 1 to 4 letters, then press a hotkey to change it to a math symbol.

See: Emacs: xah-math-input.el

It is designed for working with typing math in general, not specifically for APL.

It's trivial to modify the abbrev letters to do APL.

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