How To Type Nigerian Languages Well

Every language has its own alphabet. Nigerian languages often need extra letters to represent their sounds and meaning well. Using a computer you can write your language best if you use fonts and keyboard assistants that help you type everything properly. Use the links and instructions below to install the fonts and typing systems to type Nigerian alphabets very well.

What special letters do Nigerian languages use?

Many Nigerian languages use slightly modified Roman alphabet. The special letters include:

  1. hooked letters: ɓ Ɓ ɗ ƙ ŋ…    (Should look like this:hooked_consonants)
  2. special vowels with underlines, underdots or different shapes: o a e / ọ ụ / ɔ ə ɛ ɨ ʊ    (Should look like this:different_vowels)
  3. accent marks above letters: à é î ǒ ũ   (Should look like this:accent_marks_above)

There is special software for Windows and Mac OS X (Linux available on request) that lets you type these special letters easily. And if you have a mobile device connected to the internet you can use a website to help you type these special letters. See below for more information.

If you are using a mobile phone, iPad or Android device…

Get the free app KeyMan for iPad/iPhone, or KeyMan for Android. Then look for the NgUnified (Nigeria Unified) keyboard, or download the Nigeria Unified keyboard to install.

Alternatively go to or the Facebook app ng-type.

Both systems let you change the shape of the letter by typing semicolon after typing the letter you want to change, and typing ` (not apostrophe, the key to the left of 1) to add tone diacritics.

If you are using a computer that you can install software onto then do this…

  1. Download and install fonts and keyboard assistants.
  2. Use the keyboard assistants to produce the special letters.

1a. Download and install a font that displays Nigerian languages well:

1b. Download and install a typing/keyboard assistant to type the special letters easily:

For Apple Mac OS X:

  • Download:
  • Install:
    • Drag the downloaded file (e.g. Nigeria Open Shape.bundle) into your /Library/Keyboard Layouts folder.
    • Open System Preferences
    • OS X 10.8 and earlier:
      • Open Language & Text…, then choose the Input Sources section
      • Tick beside the keyboard name (e.g. Nigeria Open Shape).
    • OS X 10.9+:
      • Open Keyboard Preferences.
      • Move to the Input Sources tab.
      • Click the add [+] button at the bottom of the list of installed languages.
      • Search through the list of languages for Hausa.
      • Then select the keyboards you want from that list:System Preferences Window showing the Keyboard Preference with the list of languages, Hausa chosen as the representative Nigerian language

For Microsoft Windows:

Method 1: (Preconfigured, Manual)

  • Download the Nigeria InKey folder.
  • Unzip it to somewhere ordinary on your computer like your home, documents or desktop folder (not Program Files).
  • Run the InKey.exe program every time you want to use the special keyboards. (Perhaps add a shortcut to your Task Bar.)

Method 2: (Installers)

Read here how to keep the Keyboard Icons always visible.


Also note that KeyMan is now (from early 2014) available on iOS and Android devices. Check the relevant app stores. Currently unsure whether the same keyboards listed above will work for those devices.

2. How to use the Windows Nigerian Keyboards (once installed)

Activate the keyboard:

  • In InKey double-tap the left  ctrl   key to switch keyboard: watch the icon on the right-hand-side of the screen. (To keep the icon always visible, click on the triangle where icons hide in the system tray, click Customise…, find InKey and set it to Show icon and notifications).
  • With KeyMan click on the icon in the system tray or specify a keyboard shortcut to change to each keyboard you want.

When you’re in the right keyboard, type the basic letter that you want (eg e) and then

  • type the ; key to change to a related shape (add a dot, underline or change to open shape, depending on keyboard, or add a hook if it’s a consonant); press ; again to change again.
  • type the top left key (left of  1  

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