[texhax] Unicode Replacement Character in Standard TeX

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Fri Jan 16 22:32:07 CET 2015

On 2015-01-16 at 11:20:55 +0000, Philip Taylor wrote:

 > Incidentally, I should publicly acknowledge that my solution was based 
 > on the invaluable resource archived by Microsoft at :
 > http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/saikat/ref/latex-symbols.pdf

Hi Phil,
as Lars already pointed out, the link points to a very old version of
Scott's file.  How did you find this file?  Both, Google and Ixquick
point me to CTAN.

BTW, I don't recommend to use arbitrary search engines anymore in
order to find solutions for TeX related problems.  You often get bad
advice.  The by far best place to search is


Admittedly, I didn't find Scott's file with the search pattern "latex
symbol" yet but I only looked at the results briefly.  However, the
quality of the answers at SX is amazing.

I also can't resist to advertise texdoc.

  texdoc --list symbol


  8 .../texlive/2014/texmf-dist/doc/latex/comprehensive/symbols-a4.pdf
  9 .../texlive/2014/texmf-dist/doc/latex/comprehensive/symbols-letter.pdf
among 32 other files.  Despite that texdoc returns many results and
it's difficult to determine which of them is what you're looking for,
you can at least be sure that the stuff is quite up-to-date and
describes what is in the current TL distribution.

 > A slightly more elegant solution (less redundancy) follows.
 > Philip Taylor
 > --------
 > \documentclass [a4paper]{minimal}
 > \usepackage [dvipsnames]{xcolor}
 > \usepackage {amssymb}
 > \font \cmr = cmr7
 > \def \missing {$\blacklozenge \llap {\hbox {\textcolor {white} {\cmr 
 > ?}\kern 0,1333 em}}$}
 > \begin{document}
 > \begin{center}
 > \missing \missing \missing
 > \end{center}
 > \end{document}

IMO this is a brilliant solution.  However, since LaTeX allows you to
select a base font size (10pt, 11pt, 12pt) for a particular document,
it would make sense to load fonts relative to this size (like \tiny
... \Huge).  This should work with any base size:

  \def \missing {$\blacklozenge \llap {\hbox {\textcolor {white}
  {\scriptsize ?}\kern 0,1333 em}}$}

In order to make the macro bullet proof it's necessary to make sure
that the question mark of Computer Modern is being used.  Question
marks of other fonts might be smaller or larger.  Maybe commands like
\fontfamily or so can be used within the macro.  Unfortunately I can't
contribute ATM due to a disk crash.  I have to make my system work as
before (or better) in the first place.  Copying files and calculating
checksums take an enourmous amount of time...


Reinhard Kotucha                            Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                    mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de

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