[XeTeX] biblatex with xelatex

Joseph Wright joseph.wright at morningstar2.co.uk
Mon Dec 14 09:54:37 CET 2009

On 14/12/2009 08:47, Alex Hamann wrote:
> Hi,
> I am used to encoding my bib-files and tex-files in utf-8 and typesetting them with xelatex. While skimming through the biblatex documentation I ran into a paragraph under section 2.4.3 (p. 36):
> Using UTF-8 encoding in both the tex and the bib file is not possible since neither traditional BibTeX nor bibtex8 can handle multi-byte encodings such as UTF-8. In this case, you need to use a single-byte encoding such as Latin 1 (see above) or resort to Ascii notation in the bib file:
> \usepackage[utf8]{inputenc} \usepackage{biblatex}
> I never saw any problems resulting from the use of utf-8 in both files and am now curious to understand why I should avoid doing this. Is the limitation something that becomes irrelevant when using xelatex (xelatex is not mentioned in the documentation)?
> Can anyone enlighten me?

It depends on how you use UTF-8 in the BibTeX file, and has nothing to 
do with XeTeX. If BibTeX does no processing on letters which need more 
than the traditional 8 bits, you will see no problems. The trouble 
starts if BibTeX is asked to do anything to a letter which is not 
represented by 8 bits. This is often seen when changing case or 
abbreviating names (for example, I've had problems with an author whose 
first name starts with a Turkish dotted I).

The best plan is to use biber-biblatex, which is written in Perl and is 
UTF-8 aware. Then the problem really does go away (although biber is 
still very much in development).
Joseph Wright

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