[XeTeX] The apprentice's response
hospes.primus at verizon.net
Sat Apr 18 08:34:09 CEST 2009
As a relative newcomer to TeX I completely sympathize with what you are
> mathematics part of LaTeX, but REALLY have interest in the
> unicode/font support in XeLaTeX, because I work for a humanities
> faculty: http://www.humanas.unal.edu.co/cms.php?id=731 (sorry, there
> is pretty much nothing about our projects, I posted them in my blog,
> see my signature. The sites are in spanish, sorry) and have to manage
> greek text, for example. Sometimes arabic, or hebrew.
I also was attracted to Xe(La)TeX because I need OpenType features and
multilingual text. Please be aware that much of the information you
find about TeX is pre-Unicode; this is particularly true of information
about entering non-English characters or using various packages to
support Hebrew, Arabic, etc.
Enter Unicode text using whatever keyboard you normally use (e.g., for
polytonic Greek). The babel package does not really work with XeTeX;
use the newer polyglossia package, which is designed as a Unicode-based
replacement for babel. Polyglossia is included with many distributions
(I got mine with MiKTeX) and has a good manual. Polyglossia provides
hyphenation rules and special punctuation handling (correct shape of
quotation marks, etc.) for Latin-script languages, and more stuff for
Arabic and Hebrew, along with commands to switch languages in the middle
of a document. As a classicist, I am particularly impressed that
polyglossia includes support for ancient Greek and Latin (try that,
You will also want to use the fontspec package, which is designed to
work with XeTeX. The manual by Will Robertson is good, but a bit tricky
for newcomers at times. The names that fontspec uses to call OT
features are not the standard ones, which is confusing for those of us
who come to XeTeX with some knowledge of OT. (This, I think, is because
fontspec was first developed on the Mac and includes support for AAT as
well as OT features.) I am putting together a document to help with
this; I'll email the list when it's ready, but if you want a draft
version in the meantime email me off-list.
Finally, no one has mentioned this yet: I think it is easiest for
newcomers to use an integrated environment to produce TeX documents.
Such environments provide an editor to create source code, help with
debugging via the error log, and an easy way to produce/view the final
result. The only environment that works with Xe(La)TeX is TeXworks, and
I recommend it highly. (The others are still pre-Unicode).
More information about the XeTeX