Introduction: How to Write Circular Gallifreyan (Dr. Who)

Picture of How to Write Circular Gallifreyan (Dr. Who)

I am not a Dr. Who-fan, or a Whovian. I have never seen more than two episodes of the series. I do love the Gallifreyan way of writing.

The way of reading and writing is fairly simple, a few basics:

- Direction of reading/writing is, starting from  the bottom, counterclockwise
- Every seperate circle represents a word
- Within each circle, different combinations of circles and lines represent letters
- A vowel that directly follows a consonant, is drawn within that consonant

For a more exact explanation, I used this site:

Step 1: Step 1: Preparation

Picture of Step 1: Preparation

I make sure I have the alfabet at hand, which makes it way easier to check back if you need to. On two different pieces of paper, I have the main signs (first image), and the vowels and punctuation marks (second image).

I look for quotes I like, for instance from movies or series I love. Here, I chose for a quote from Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire: "Babbling, bumbling band of baboons"

I take a new piece of paper, and write the quote on it (just for reference). Under it, I draw the amount of circles I need for this quote (third image). The circle for 'of' is intentionally smaller, because it only has two signs in it. Words like 'a', 'the', 'me', etc. are easier to leave small.

Step 2: Step 2: Drawing Up the First Words

Picture of Step 2: Drawing Up the First Words

Use the small circles from earlier to make the words using the reference sheets.


In 'babbling' and 'baboons', double letters can be made by doubling up the lines. 

The small lines coming from certain letters (like the 'f') represent the lines that have to be attached to that sign. Later more on this. For now, just clearly mark the amount of lines.

Step 3: Step 3: Transfer to the Final Medium

Picture of Step 3: Transfer to the Final Medium

Time to do it for real!

Take a piece of paper (I use normal printer paper), and draw the rough draft of where to place the different circles. Start at the bottem, and work your way counterclockwise. Look at the signs you already drew. Signs for letters like 'T', 'R', 'S' and 'W' make dents in the circles, which can be used to interlock the different circles. You can play with the placement of the signs within the circles, as long the first one is at the bottom, and they are in order.

Use a pencil for this step! Until you have placed every line and circle within the drawing, you'll have to make changes and erase parts. Only start inking when you KNOW it all fits.

(sorry for the unclear photo's, my camera did not pick up the pencil lines well)

Step 4: Step 4: Retracing the Drawing

Picture of Step 4: Retracing the Drawing

First, retrace the signs you made earlier on the scrap paper onto the large version. Surround the all the circles with two big ones; the first one is the sentence line, the second the story line (if you make more sentences after on another, these will be connected). For aestatic reasons, you can make dents in the inner line, in place where the circles don't reach to the edge. On this line, also add the punctuation. In my quote, there is only a comma, which I put where the line would be (I made a dent on that place) between the two circles where the comma belongs.

When you are done with the circles, it is time for the lines. The aim is to connect the exact amount of lines to a certain sign. If you can't connect one to a second sign which needs lines, continue it until the sentence line, or stop it at the edge of its own circle, given that it does not stop at a sign that does not need that line.

Step 5: Step 5: Inking

Picture of Step 5: Inking

In the same order as with retracing your lines in pencil, retrace everything in ink. The order is totally up to you, but here is how I did it:

- outline of the word circles
- Additional signs in the circles
- the sentence circle (plus punctuation)
- The lines (sometimes changing it as I go)
- the outer (story) line

And then we're done! You can cut out the sentence and hang it somewhere, show it off to friends, or just adore it on your own :)

Step 6: What Does This Say?

Picture of What Does This Say?

Back to the image in the intro; this is not the same as the one I just explained.

Can you read what it says? :3


DaniellaC5 (author)2017-10-13

Can someone help me spell Have Hope?

Safiya Light (author)2016-10-09

I really appreciate this instructable and was able to read everything you wrote. It inspired me to try translating other things, but when I tried to read the tick-tock poem it came like this:

Tuk tok voes the klol

Anch all the thashs they sly

Tuk tk ench kk too sono

You and u nutt bie

Is it just me or are alot of the words in it misspelled?

Luiz OtávioN (author)2016-07-28

help. Who meet a good program translator from Windows? I can't download from de Sherman's site.

ArdeeA made it! (author)2016-06-07

Tried out my name in Gallifreyan. I hope it's right.

yoyology (author)2013-01-07

I think it's safe to say I'm now obsessed with Circular Gallifreyan. In the past few days I've joined a subreddit devoted to the writing system, and I've created at least three images featuring it.

TimG95 (author)yoyology2016-05-24

Karl Gustav Yoyology Wiowert
Winter is coming
The dew has clearly fallen with a particular sickening thud this morning.

Tomdf (author)yoyology2013-01-13

Those look pretty dang sweet!

mlangevoort (author)yoyology2013-01-12

I absolutely LOVE it <3

I love the third one the most :3 Gave me a nice puzzle, but it was very readable. Chapeau~

TinaTT (author)2013-07-02

Wow...just wow. In less than 2 hours I'm obsessed! Thanks for the indtructable, let me see if I got it...

TimG95 (author)TinaTT2016-05-24

You kant (can't) touch this.

FrankyD (author)2016-05-06

Could some help me translate "Life only comes around once" in gallifreian please. would like to use it as a couple tattoo

Caitlync5 (author)2016-03-18

How would you write a name in gallifreian, such as Caitlyn?

VictorP81 (author)Caitlync52016-05-01

i know you may havealready discovered about it, but it may help other people. you must change the letter C with the letter K, or S depending on the sound of the letter.

Pennydavis (author)2016-04-07

Can anyone please translate this, i would really appreciate it, its importaint. Thankyou

BlueDevil96 (author)2015-11-13

Help! I know enough to know this is Gallifreyan, but have NO idea how to translate...can you help?

Pic 1: well done you are exceedingly smart but you are not done yet

Pic 2: north three seven degrees zero seven point zero three three

Pic 3: west deto nine three degrees one seven point eight seven nine

kNasad (author)2015-03-25

Can someone please help me to translate this?

AndrewR12 (author)kNasad2015-05-14



AndrewR12 (author)AndrewR122015-05-14

that's left to right

mgivens20 (author)2015-04-16

I know you did this a while ago, but as a GINORMOUS HP fan, I'd have to give you kudos on your choice of phrase to write!

pizzazzles (author)2015-03-25

lol because i'm so stupid and too lazy to get the chart you made, do you think you could make an alphabet chart like this one i found from another tutorial? (and, of course, another for punctuation etc) i'm not saying your chart is not understandable, but it's just one of those things i actually understand and then the next second i completely forget like a total dork. (or you could revamp this tutorial because i'm not sure i completely understand, no offense x3 (it's also pretty old anyways so why not, haha))

fadingroar made it! (author)2014-09-22

I just set my GF a little challenge, she has to translate a simple sentence, if she cannot on time... she'll have to play videogames with me one full day :P

(it's in Spanish... under the Galifreyan haha)

runder23 made it! (author)2014-07-18

Took me a bit of time, see if you guys can understand what i wrote here.

Bow ties are cool!

BlazinBernie (author)2013-10-06

Thanks for the guide! I'm going to be doing a lot of this; I need some stuff to hag up on my walls in my bedroom.

araymond1 (author)2013-02-27

"Winter is coming"? :)

dorotea (author)2013-02-25

Hi, er, I was just going to mention that someone actually created this, has a website for it (shermansplant, which you mentioned- they actually ask you to get permission before using it.), etc- if you wanted to use it you should have asked permission. Also, I suggest using a protractor and being a bit more careful when drawing, these look a bit inexact and I think the writing's really intended to look neater. I'm glad someone took time to make an instructable for this, though.

monsterlego (author)2013-02-12

Cool! i got started right away!

Tomdf (author)2013-01-04

o.O Those things are words?! Years and years of seeing em' and I never even began to think they were actual letters. I'm freaking out, this has blown my mind.

I tried reading those instructions but it made my brain itch. I'm guessing that there is a lot of artistic liberty with the arrangement, like you can rotate a word any way you want?

Tomdf (author)Tomdf2013-01-04

OK, it took me an hour, but I think I've figured it out. What does this say:

mlangevoort (author)Tomdf2013-01-05

In principle, you start at the bottom of the circle and work your way counterclockwise.

I don't know if it is right, but what I could read is 'Bannana Phane'. I really like the way you arranged the lines though. Very nice~

Tomdf (author)mlangevoort2013-01-05

Lol, dang it. It does say "bannana phane", doesn't it. I screwed up that second word, it is suppose to be "phone".
This is fun! I'm going to write/draw something ridiculous complicated. I did decode the one on the last page btw, but I don't want to spoil it for others.
Thanks for showing your work and this crazy script!

yoyology (author)Tomdf2013-01-08

Your Gallifreyan is good, but your English needs a little work.

The word "banana" has no double letters.

Tomdf (author)yoyology2013-01-13

What?! No that can't be...
Ah fishsticks, that is embarrassing.

mlangevoort (author)Tomdf2013-01-05

Complicated is fun, but sentences that are too long can be a pain up the backside xD

And you are very much welcome :3

Zaphod Beetlebrox (author)2013-01-05

A programmed translator is available from here. just type in what you want said and it draws the picture. useful if you want to check you're accuracy, or if you're too lazy to learn the code but like the designs. 

yoyology (author)2013-01-05

Thank you for doing this! You make my geeky little heart happy.

Is there a way to indicate which way is up? If this is on a fixed object like a wall or TARDIS control panel, it's not necessary, but on a piece of paper that could be easily turned upside down, I can see it being a problem.

I'm working on my name in Gallifreyan as we speak! I'll post a picture when I get it done.

mlangevoort (author)yoyology2013-01-05

I guess you can use punctuation marks like a period to mark where the sentence ends, and thus where it begins. I don't really have this problem, cause weirdly enough I recognize with my own handwriting which way is up or down, and I haven't had the chance to show it to someone in person.

I'd love to see how it turns out; everyone makes different combinations, especially with the lines :D

Dominic Bender (author)2013-01-04

I like gallifreyan, too, and I like the looks of your designs.

This is not "official", or is it? Not that it would matter seeing how it turns out believable and makes it fun if you can actually read them.

There is no official circular Gallifreyan, but the alphabet made by Loren Sherman is the most standard used :)

I'm just happy it looks believable :D I like to have my room full of these weird signs xD

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