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This aspires to be a categorization of the writing systems of the world.

Types of Pages

The main article type is orthography. There will also be articles on hands within orthographies, orthography creators, individual graphemes, major researchers, related disciplines, and other topics. See those pages for guides to creating such articles.

Project Goals

Ignace Gelb, the father of grammatology, envisioned a "treasure-book of writing" which would include practical and theoretical descriptions of all the world's writing systems[1]. A number of books have attempted to answer this need, but a book can only be so large, and books cannot be kept up to date the way electronic collections can. Books also often show typeset renderings of the writing, which may or may not be accurate to its typical presentation. Thus this wiki aims to be a collection free to go into whatever detail with whatever media necessary.

Still, any wiki other than "the" wiki, Wikipedia, probably has to have a pretty good justification for existing, given the large advantage of just putting everything in one place. This project differs from the Wikipedia articles on given writing systems in several respects.

First, accumulation of writing samples, or diplomatic transcriptions. Allowing people to see something as close as possible to the real everyday writing in an orthography can aid research and help prevent misconceptions which may be caused by looking at idealized forms of the letters. For example, the full range of allographic variation cannot be easily represented by a font or a Table of Alphabets. Thus, scans or photographs are preferable to unicode renderings (unless that is a dominant form of communication) or sketches.

Secondly, willingness to entertain theories and include original research. Not everything is known about the writing systems of the world, and in particular they have not been often studied as linguistic systems due to linguistics traditionally considering writing a mere pale shadow of speech. Theories should not be presented as facts, but original research is allowed along with supported speculation.

Thirdly, being a Referata wiki, the orthography wiki uses the semantic wiki approach to accumulating data. This means many articles will fall into standard types, such as orthography, grapheme, etc., and a fair amount of information collected will be systematic, filling in facts about writing systems.


  1. The World's Writing Systems, Daniels & Bright, 1996
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