Blissym Code for Information Interchange


Blissymbols are composed on a grid.

sky line             Ultra Zone  
middle sky line Sky Zone            
middle line   Middle Zone          
middle earth line       Earth Zone      
earth line           Infra Zone  

The sky line and earth line bound the space in which blissymbols are formed. The earth line is the text base line. The sky line is placed around the same height as upper case letters. The distance between the earth line and sky line is one unit. The space is divided in half by a middle line, and into quarters by the middle sky line and the middle earth line.

The lines form the boundaries of three half unit high zones, the sky zone, middle zone, and earth line. There is also an ultra zone which is used to hold the grammatical indicators. The ultra zone and infra zone also are the homes of two SEMI elements.

Each of the elements (or line letters) is identified with a line or a zone. Blissymbols are created by combining elements on the grid as described below.

The space is further divided horizontally at quarter unit intervals.


The Characters

There are three classes of characters:

A blissymbol is made up of many elements and base characters, much as words are made up of letters. Unlike conventional characters, the elements are non-spacing. This is to allow the combining of elements to form complex blissymbols. Spacing is provided by the base characters. This scheme allows for huge flexibility in permitting the design and use of new blissymbols with a very small character set.

All of the other characters provided by ASCII, Unicode, or any other character set may also be used.

Non-breaking spacing characters

The base characters provide horizontal increments of one quarter unit to five quarter unit.

The Non-spacing elements

There are 11 types of elements.

Quantity Type Position  
3 WATER line one unit wide wavy line
8 ARC zone quarter arcs of a one unit circle
14 SEMI zone semicircles of a half unit circle
6 DIAG zone diagonal line connecting two corners of a half unit square
6 STEEP zone diagonal line connecting two corners of a rectangle that is a half unit tall and a quarter unit wide
3 VERT zone vertical lines, half unit tall
5 LINE line horizontal lines, half unit wide
20 POINTER line pointer or arrow head
4 CORNER   corner pointers
5 DOT line dots

Grammatical indicators

The six characters in this class are spacing like conventional characters. They are used as prefixes to identify the parts-of-speech of symbols. Bliss originally called for these indications to be centered above symbols, like accent marks. This is difficult to do with naïve software, so the prefix form is now used.


Examples will now be given showing the construction of blissymbols. One or more elements are placed, followed by a base character. These can then be followed by additional elements and base characters. The final base element must include an addition quarter unit of space which is used for an eighth unit bumper on both sides of the symbol..


There are many alternate constructions possible of most blissymbols. All are equally readable by humans, but may present problems to computer systems that may want to do some processing on or with the blissymbols. There is a simple algorithm for normalizing blissymbols. The preferred construction is always normalized.

Character codes

Currently, the BLISSCII characters are assigned the codes U+EBA1 thru U+EBFD in Unicode's Private Use Area. If use of BLISSCII becomes widespread enough, a new set of codes will be assigned, possibly U+2BA1 thru U+2BFD.

There is also an 8-bit form of BLISSCII which uses the codes A1 thru FD. This allows it to coexist with the ASCII code. The 8-bit form of BLISSCII is intended to accommodate older byte-oriented systems.