The alphabet consists of thirty upper and lower case letters: Gaj's original alphabet contained the digraph, which Serbian linguist Đuro Daničić later replaced with the letter. The letters do not have names, and consonants are normally pronounced as such when spelling is necessary. When clarity is needed, they are pronounced similar to the German alphabet: a, be, ce, če, će, de, dže, đe, e, ef, ge, ha, i, je, ka, el, elj, em, en, enj, o, pe, er, es, eš, te, u, ve, ze, že. These rules for pronunciation of individual letters are common as far as the 22 letters that match the ISO basic Latin alphabet are concerned. The use of others is mostly limited to the context of linguistics, while in mathematics, is commonly pronounced jot, as in German. The missing four letters are pronounced as follows: as ku or kju, as dublve, duplo v or duplo ve, as iks, as ipsilon. Letters,, and represent the sounds , , and , but often are transcribed as /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /tʃ/ and /dʒ/.
Note that the digraphsdž, lj, and nj are considered to be single letters:
In dictionaries, njegov comes after novine, in a separate section after the end of the section; bolje comes after bolnica; nadžak comes after nadživjeti, and so forth.
In vertical writing,,, are written horizontally, as a unit. For instance, if mjenjačnica is written vertically, appears on the fourth line. In crossword puzzles,,, each occupy a single square.
If words are written with a space between each letter, each digraphs is written as a unit. For instance: M J E NJ A Č N I C A.
If only the initial letter of a word is capitalized, only the first of the two component letters is capitalized: Njemačka, not NJemačka. In Unicode, the form is referred to as titlecase, as opposed to the uppercase form, representing one of the few cases in which titlecase and uppercase differ. Uppercase would be used if the entire word was capitalized: NJEMAČKA.
The Croatian Latin alphabet was mostly designed by Ljudevit Gaj, who modelled it after Czech and Polish, and invented, and, according to similar solutions in Hungarian. In 1830 in Buda, he published the book Kratka osnova horvatsko-slavenskog pravopisanja, which was the first common Croatian orthography book. It was not the first ever Croatian orthography work, as it was preceded by works of Rajmund Đamanjić, Ignjat Đurđević and Pavao Ritter Vitezović. Croats had previously used the Latin script, but some of the specific sounds were not uniformly represented. Versions of the Hungarian alphabet were most commonly used, but others were too, in an often confused, inconsistent fashion. Gaj followed the example of Pavao Ritter Vitezović and the Czech orthography, making one letter of the Latin script for each sound in the language. His alphabet mapped completely on Serbian Cyrillic which had been standardized by Vuk Karadžić a few years before. Đuro Daničić suggested in his Rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika published in 1880 that Gaj's digraphs,, and should be replaced by single letters :,, and respectively. The original Gaj alphabet was eventually revised, but only the digraph has been replaced with Daničić's, while, and have been kept.
An attempt was made to apply the 7-bit "YUSCII", later "CROSCII", which included the five letters with diacritics at the expense of five non-letter characters, but it was ultimately unsuccessful. Because the ASCII character @ sorts before A, this led to jokes calling it žabeceda.
Other short-lived vendor-specific efforts were also undertaken.
The preferred character encoding for Croatian today is either the ISO 8859-2, or the Unicode encoding UTF-8. However,, one can still find programs as well as databases that use CP1250, CP852 or even CROSCII. Digraphs, and in their upper case, title case and lower case forms have dedicated UNICODE code points as shown in the table below, However, these are included chiefly for backwards compatibility ; modern texts use a sequence of characters.
Usage for Slovene
Since the early 1840s, Gaj's alphabet was increasingly used for the Slovene language. In the beginning, it was most commonly used by Slovene authors who treated Slovene as a variant of Serbo-Croatian, but it was later accepted by a large spectrum of Slovene-writing authors. The breakthrough came in 1845, when the Slovene conservative leaderJanez Bleiweis started using Gaj's script in his journal Kmetijske in rokodelske novice, which was read by a wide public in the countryside. By 1850, Gaj's alphabet became the only official Slovene alphabet, replacing three other writing systems which circulated in the Slovene Lands since the 1830s: the traditional bohoričica and the two innovative proposals by the Peter Dajnko and Franc Serafin Metelko. The Slovene version of Gaj's alphabet differs from the Serbo-Croatian one in several ways:
The Slovene alphabet does not have the characters and ; the sounds they represent do not occur in Slovene.
In Slovene, the digraphs and are treated as two separate letters and represent separate sounds.
While the phoneme exists in modern Slovene and is written, it is used in only borrowed words and so and are considered separate letters, not a digraph.
Slovene orthography is comparatively less phonetic than Serbo-Croatian. For instance, letter can be pronounced in four ways, and letter in two. Also, it does not record consonant voicing assimilation: compare e.g. Slovene and Serbo-Croatian .
of Macedonian is done according to Gaj's Latin alphabet but is slightly modified. Gaj's ć and đ are not used at all, with ḱ and ǵ introduced instead. The rest of the letters of the alphabet are used to represent the equivalent Cyrillic letters. Also, Macedonian uses the letter dz, which is not part of the Serbo-Croatian phonemic inventory. However, the backs of record sleeves published in the former Yugoslavia, by non-Macedonian publishers, used ć and đ, like other places.