[OS X TeX] fontenc documentation...

Herbert Schulz herbs at wideopenwest.com
Sun Feb 1 17:58:02 CET 2009

On Feb 1, 2009, at 10:47 AM, Jean-Christophe Helary wrote:

> Basically, my problem is that according to:
> http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=why-inp-font
> The area covered by fontenc is pretty much also covered by inputenc.
> Also, the FAQ says that "only fontenc has the means to convert [\'e]  
> into the T1 character", but I just found that in Texshop I could  
> type \'e without _any_ fontenc preamble and LaTeX was still able to  
> process that...
> Considering that I'm thinking about people who _won't_ type such  
> sequences, but rather "é" directly, what is the preferred/more  
> modern/more intuitive choice. fontenc or inputenc ? I'd personally  
> go for inputenc if I understood all the implications...


Two different problems. I wrote about this in early January:

I assume you are talking about the whole encoding mess.

The problem is that once you get past the basic 128 character ASCII  
set there have been multiple, INCOMPATIBLE ways of representing  
(encoding) the extended character set; e.g., Mac Roman, Latin 1,  
UTF-8. The last encoding is the first that seems to have universal  
acceptance. TeX got around this problem by only using ASCII characters  
and macros to construct accented character, etc. In LaTeX the inputenc  
package allows for a translation from the stored encoding to something  
LaTeX can understand.

There are actually three things that must cooperate. The Editor must  
save and read the source file in a known encoding so that it can  
display the extended character set correctly. In TeXShop this is done  
with a line such as

%%!TEX encoding = UTF-8 Unicode

near the top of the file before saving the file (or changing the  
default encoding to UTF-8 in TeXShop->Preferences). The second is to  
tell LaTeX how to interpret the extended character set (i.e.,  
understand the a certain character number means é) using a line like


for UTF-8 encoding. Finally the font you are using must have that  
character in a certain location in the font file. To do this a line like


tells LaTeX how to map the particular input code to an actual glyph to  
be printed with ink onto the paper. Oh, one more thing, the font  
itself must have the character or a blank glyph will be printed; e.g.,  
the Latin Modern fonts, an extended version of Computer Modern, does  
have the character while Computer Modern doesn't.

Hope that I've got that right and it's comprehensible.

Good Luck,

Herb Schulz
(herbs at wideopenwest dot com)

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