English Braille
American Edition



Definition of Braille

Rules of Braille
  1. Punctuation Signs
  2. Special Composition Signs
  3. Format
  4. Asterisk, Footnotes, References
  5. Accent Sign, Diphthongs, Foreign Languages
  6. Abbreviations
  7. Numbers and Roman Numerals
  8. Coinage, Weights, and Other Special Symbols
  9. Poetry, Scansion, and Stress
  10. General Use of Contractions
  11. One-cell whole-word contractions
  12. One-cell part-word contractions
  13. Lower Signs
  14. Initial-letter contractions
  15. Final-letter contractions
  16. Short-form words

Typical and Problem Words

  • Index
    BRL Courses
  • Intro to Braille
  • Braille Transcribers
  • Specialized Codes


    1. Paragraphing: Where space-saving is desirable, three blank spaces may be left within a line to indicate a new paragraph. If the end of a paragraph ends a braille line, the next paragraph should begin in the fourth cell of the next line. (This practice is occasionally used in magazines.)

    2. Poetry: Where space-saving is desirable, poetry may be written as prose. Each stanza should begin in the third space of a new line, and three blank spaces should be left between poetic lines. If a poetic line finishes a braille line, the last word of the poetic line must be carried over to the next braille line. (This practice is occasionally used in magazines.)

    3. Breaks in Context: A series of dots or other symbols, used in print to indicate a break in text, may be shown in braille by three asterisks centered on a separate line and divided from each other by a space. Ex:

      * * * * * * * * * *

      99 99 99

    4. Termination Line: Where it is desirable to indicate ends of articles, stories, etc., a line of 12 consecutive dots 2-5 3 should be centered on a new line. No blank lines should be left above or below the termination line. However, if there is insufficient room below the termination line for the heading and the first line of text, the new item should begin on a new page. (This format is primarily employed in magazines.)

    5. Tabular Material: Tabular material can, and should, be reproduced wherever possible. The standardized format for tabular material has not been finalized. It will be a separate document. Until it is available, please refer to English Braille American Edition, 1959 for guidance.

    6. Test Materials: (See also Code of Braille Textbook Formats and Techniques, most recent edition.) Test materials should be embossed in braille in such a manner that there will be a minimum of time lost in reading by the blind person being tested. In general, it is recommended that the following practices be used:

      • Begin each test on a new braille page.

      • Do not divide words at the end of lines.

      • Insofar as possible, avoid carrying parts of questiongs over to another braille page. If a question is too long to be completed on one braille page, without undue waste of space, divide the question at a logical break in thought which will minimize referring back and forth betweent the braille pages.

      • In tests which direct that the answers be written on a separate sheet, list all answer choices in column form, and complete each choice on a single braille line if the choice itself does not require more than one braille line.

      • In test employing the underscoring method, it is not necessary to write the choices in column form, but each answer choice should be completed on the line of braille on which it begins, if it does not itself require more than one braille line. In order to give adequate space for underscoring, leave a blank line after each answer choice.
         (Note: This practice should be used in test materials intended for one-time use. In permanently bound texts, the print copy should be followed as to spacing and columnar form, and directions should be inserted for writing the answers separately, in order not to mutilate the text.)

      • In true-false tests (which are designed for underscoring), write the question first, and the letters T and F (omitting the capital or letter sign and parentheses) at the end of the question. The T and the F should be separated by two spaces from the end of the question, and from each otehr. Blank lines should be left between questions to facilitate underscoring.
            (Note: As in e. above.)

    7. Outlines: (See also Code of Braille Textbook Formats and Techniques, most recent edition.) In writing outlines, considerable space can be saved by using the following form:

      (1)Begin each main division in the third cell of the braille line.

      (2)Indent successively two additional cells for the beginning of each subdivision.

      (3)Bring all runovers of each main division, or subdivision, to the margin. Ex:

      I.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

         A.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      1.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


      1. Plays and Other Dramatic Materials: (See also Code of Braille Textbook Formats and Techniques, most recent edition.) These should be reproduced in the following form:

        • Stage Directions:

          (1) Italics should be omitted for all stage directions, settings, etc., and the braille parentheses whoud be substituted for all brackets found in the print copy.

          (2) Stage settings of scenes should be written in paragraph form.

          (3) Stage directions for coming on and off stage, including runovers, should be indented four spaces.

        • Characters:

          (1) Omit italics in names of characters introducking dialogue, but include them where they appear in dialogue for voice emphasis. Use only the single capital sign before all names of characters.

          (2) The names of all characters should begin at the margin, and all runovers of dialogue should be indented two spaces. Never center names of characters.

          (3) The name of each character should be followed by a period, and the dialogue should begin on the same line.

        • Each act, as well as the list of characters, etc., should always begin a new page.

        • Poetry: Where plays are printed in poetic form, begin the first line of dialogue on the same line with the name of hte speaker, after the period. All other lines of poetry should be indented two spaces, and all runovers should be indented four spaces, to preserve the poetic form. Stage directions for coming on and off stage, including runovers, shoud be indented six spaces.

      2. Special Symbols Page: Include a special symbols page following the title page in each braille volume listing special symbols which are encountered in that volume. These should include:

        symbols which have been devised or assigned special usage;

        symbols from other braille codes, e.g. Nemeth, Music, Computer Braille Code;

        all symbols required by English Braille American Edition to be listed on the special symbols page. These are: accent sign, asterisk, ditto sign, line sign, print symbol indicator, termination sign, scansion and stress signs, end of foot sign, caesura sign, diacritic marks, phonetic symbols, Spanish punctuation marks, non-Latin letter indicator, letter sign used before words printed in a non-Latin alphabet, and Greek and other non-Latin alphabet letters and other special signs for that language.

        Use the following format in preparing a special symbols list:

        • Begin a new braille page and center the heading


          followed by one blank line.

                On the second and succeeding pages, center the heading


          (cont.) without a blank line following.

        • Begin each symbol in cell 1 followed by its meaning according to the wording in the text. If the text does not explain a symbol, give its name.

        • Begin all runover lines in cell 3.

        • List the symbols in the order found in that braille volume.

        • When they fall into categories, list the symbols following the appropriate cell 5 heading.

        • When a noted symbol contains only right-column or only lower-cell dots, enclose the dot numbers in parentheses following the symbol.
              {See example on pages A-5 and A-6}
      3. Transcriber's Notes Page: Include a transcriber's notes page following the title page and special symbols page, if there is one, in each braille volume noting a special braille format or usage required throughout the volume. Use the following format in preparing a transcriber's notes page:

        • Begin a new braille page and center the heading


          followed by one blank line. On the second and succeeding pages, center the heading


          (cont.) without a blank line following.

        • Braille each note beginning in cell 3 with runover lines in cell 1.