[XeTeX] Egyptian hieroglyphs in XeTeX

David Perry hospes.primus at verizon.net
Tue Aug 25 05:36:15 CEST 2009


1. You'll need a font with the hieroglyphs at the appropriate Unicode 
codepoints.  (I'm assuming the font you already have is not 
Unicode-based.)  This proposal has been in the works for a very long 
time, and proposers whose characters are accepted must provide the 
Unicode Consortium with a font to print the standard, so I'm sure 
appropriate font(s) already exist.  One hopes that the proposers would 
share the fonts with other members of the profession.  If not, you'll 
have to wait until one becomes available (or make one yourself, which in 
the case of hieroglyphs is hardly a small undertaking).  If you do a 
google search on "unicode hieroglyphs" or something like that you may 
find a link to the Unicode proposals which might include font information.

Actually, I suppose you could use your older font if you take the steps 
necessary to install it in LaTeX.  I don't bother with that (which is 
why I use XeTeX).  But if you want to be on the cutting edge it would 
seem much better to have a Unicode font.

In XeTeX you can input any Unicode character with the command \char"XXXX 
where XXXX is the hexadecimal value (works with five digit hex numbers 
too, which is good since the hieroglyphs will be in plane 1, if I recall 
correctly).  If there are some glyphs that you use frequently, you could 
define your own shorthand commands.

2.  Look at the fontspec documentation for information about vertical 
text -- see the section on Asian languages.  XeTeX does handle vertical 

3. (La)TeX provides various sorts of boxes, which might be the way to 
handle the clustering problem.  See the usual tutorials if you're not 
familiar with those.

4. The graphics package provides a \rotatebox command which might be of 
use--also \scalebox.

So it seems like you should be able to do Unicode hieroglyphs in XeTeX, 
especially if you can get a font.


Robert B. Gozzoli wrote:
> Dear List members,
> I am an Egyptologist trying to sort out the implementation of Egyptian
> hieroglyphs in XeTeX. I understand that in October Unicode 5.1 will
> come out, and together with it, a list of hieroglyphs.
> While I have already a font to work with, the problem is how can I
> cluster, scaling and or rotation of signs.
> I cannot write hieroglyphs such as the Western alphabet as sometimes
> there are as many as 5 signs in the space of capitals WD. Moreover,
> hieroglyphs can be written in lines or columns, similar to Japanese or
> Chinese.
> At the moment, I am using a specialised word processor, where I can
> type ASCII codes, and then copy and paste them, if I am in Word or
> similar processor. In TeX, I can save as picture and then insert it in
> such a way. But for very short sentences, no longer than a few signs,
> I would like to use hieroglyphs as a "normal" Unicode font.
> I know that I am quite anticipating the times, the Unicode standard
> has not come out yet, but do you know how difficult may such
> implementation be?
> I can send you examples of clustering, if you need more explanations.
> I
> I thank you for any help. I have been working with many word
> processor, and I undertstand the possibilities of LaTeX. I would like
> to be experienced enough before my next book..
> Best regards,
> Robert Gozzoli,
> University of Siam, Thailand

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