[XeTeX] Is the apprentice's incompetence?

Gareth Hughes garzohugo at gmail.com
Fri Apr 17 18:06:08 CEST 2009

I entirely sympathize with you. There is no complete introduction to
XeTeX. As others have said, you probably want to use XeLaTeX rather than
plain XeTeX. This is because it's easier to get started with, and
there's a lot of documentation for LaTeX. Basically, XeTeX is a
reworking of plain TeX, adding handling for Unicode and OpenType font
features. XeLaTeX adds these same features to LaTeX. LaTeX is TeX with
built-in presets (which can be modified) for handling page layout,
paragraphs, headings, bibliographies, footnotes etc. This is what makes
it easier to use, but still as extensible as plain TeX. The trick with
learning XeLaTeX is that you have to learn LaTeX and then read the
XeTeX/fontspec manuals to see what else you can do. However, as this is
mainly about font handling, it's not too difficult to work out where to
look for information. If I'm looking to do something with XeLaTeX, I'm
always searching CTAN for documentation and packages for particular jobs.

Have fun,


Andres Conrado Montoya wrote:
> Greetings.
> I am a very junior newbie in the TeX/LaTeX/XeTeX world, but i'm a
> experienced book designer, working for the Faculty of Humanities in a
> public university, along with personal projects in a little press of
> my own. Seeking cost-effective solutions for the production of books,
> found XeTeX, what I consider to be a good solution. However, I can not
> understand where I can start to learn. I can not find good sources of
> documentation about the commands and it's effects in the type. I have
> spent hours in front of the screen trying to find documentation of
> XeTeX, but I find some here, some there, nothing founded so far says
> something like "for starting a document you ned to write this and
> that, and end the document with this and that" Some kind of tutorial.
> Google was the first and obvious option, that finally guide me there,
> and give links to other manuals, but I start reading and feels like is
> supposed that I know at least how to write the base of a document
> (headers, how to start it, how to end it, etc.), but I don't know how
> to do it.
> Is it my mistake? I'm missing someting? I tried using existing XeTeX
> documents, like the ones in the showcase, but finally, I don't know
> how the document works, and I'm unable of editing it except at the
> information level.
> Could you please give me some clues on where to find manuals or
> guides, specifically XeTeX, to start learning and guide others? Need
> to know how to control typographically the design, how to make
> variations, bleeds, etc., at the design level. I know this is
> posibble, but I'm frustrated... I'm intelligent, I can handle the
> code, can handle the documentation I've founded, but is fragmented,
> just wanna know where to start.
> I'm very grateful for all you can tell me, and apologize for not
> knowing what to do. Probably I'm looking in a bad direction. (and
> sorry for my bad english)
> Have very nice day, everyday, all of you there.
> --
> Andrés Conrado Montoya
> El Andi
> andresconrado at gmail.com
> http://chiquitico.org
> ----------------------------------------
> Los fines no justifican los medios, porque la medida verdadera de
> nuestro carácter está dada por los medios que estamos dispuestos a
> utilizar, no por los fines que proclamamos.
> ----------------------------------------
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> Lea http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/no-word-attachments.es.html
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Gareth Hughes

Department of Eastern Christianity
Oriental Institute
Pusey Lane

+44 (0)1865 610227

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