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:

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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?

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

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37 Discussions


3 months ago

I need help understanding the vowels. When I look at Sherman's diagrams, I swear they conflict so I'm missing something big and probably obvious. I know one reads this counter clockwise but does one also (visually/mentally) turn the word circle for each letter? That is, as I first interrupted it, the "a" would be on a line and in the lower half of the word circle. But that's impossible to do most of the time, and it's displayed in the detailed diagram, as being outside of the circle(s), so, again, is one suppose to rotate the word circle as they read/write? Please feel free to contact me directly as I'm sure a single answer will only cause me a more questions.


2 years ago

Can someone help me spell Have Hope?

Safiya Light

3 years ago

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

3 years ago

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


Reply 3 years ago

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


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

I absolutely LOVE it <3

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


6 years ago on Introduction

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

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

You kant (can't) touch this.


3 years ago

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


3 years ago

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

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

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.


3 years ago

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


3 years ago

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

question 1.pngquestion 2.pngquestion 3.png
1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

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


4 years ago on Introduction

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!