[tex-eplain] Problems with math symbols in pdftex outlines

Dan Luecking luecking at uark.edu
Wed Apr 1 00:24:41 CEST 2009

At 06:05 AM 3/31/2009, you wrote:
>karl at freefriends.org (Karl Berry) writes:
> > My understanding is that the PDF outlines are handled as "plain text" in
> > a system encoding, rather than being normally typeset.
>When I typeset `continuit\`a', the outline shows `continuit{accent 18 a}'.

The contents of  \pdfoutline are completely expanded and \accent 18
is the definition of \`. You should use an editor that allows text
entry in latin-1 encoding and type an actual accented a. (This may
require a modified plain format.)

>so outlines should be able to understand and expand TeX code.

They are produced in much the same way as \write writes to files.
Macros are expanded, but *typesetting* is not performed. The accent
command is a typesetting command that shoves two separate glyphs
together. It is not expandable and therefore is copied unchanged
into the outline.

>I use plain (pdf)TeX, so I wonder how pdflatex handles this problem.

In latex one uses hyperref and its very complicated macros,
workarounds and hacks. It pretty much examines the stuff that
goes into the outlines token-by-token and tosses out things
that aren't allowed. And it still very much needs help from
the user. It is smart enough to remove "$" and to translate
\`a into the grave a, but a lot of other things throw errors and
produce wrong characters in outlines.


Daniel H. Luecking
Department of Mathematical Sciences
University of Arkansas
"Dubito ergo cogito, cogito ergo sum" --Descartes

More information about the tex-eplain mailing list