[XeTeX] The apprentice's response

David Perry 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 
going through.

> 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, 
Microsoft Word!).

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).

Best wishes,

More information about the XeTeX mailing list