[XeTeX] XeTeX & sanskrit: which font

Zdenek Wagner zdenek.wagner at gmail.com
Wed Aug 15 11:40:53 CEST 2012

2012/8/15  <hanneder at staff.uni-marburg.de>:
> Sorry for extending this discussion a bit, and perhaps beyond the main focus
> of the list. But I wanted to summarize my recent struggles with the font
> question when producing a book in Devanagari and XeTeX. In short, I checked
> all fonts available including a large number of free Devanagari fonts
> (distributed during the World Sanskrit Conference) and found them inadequate
> in one or the other respect. Usually there are problems you notice only when
> typesetting and proofreading a whole book, for instance, certain
> combinations of consonants simply do not work, or produce wrong results. In
> the old days one would tweak the font, but with otf I have no clue how to
> start.
You are right, it is not a simple task.

> So I was was back to where I started: The fonts Sanskrit 2003 and Nakula.
> Now Sanskrit 2003 does not work nicely, especially if you have Roman text
> also, since it is a bold font for "heavy" verse editions, not for reading
> longer prose. So it was Nakula! There, unfortunately some ligatures are in
> areas of the unicode range where XeTeX cannot find them (right at the end),
> so that altough they are there, they cannot be used. I am currently trying
> to find someone who can improve the font. Any help is most welcome.
You should always contact the font author. Nakula and Sahadeva were
developed by John Smith. You can try to contact him. Another font you
can try is GNU FreeSerif but you have to use relatively new version
(distributed eg with TL 2012). You can see demonstration on my page:


The text is in Hindi but Sanskrit is supported too (in FreeSerif,
FreeSans does not contain all Sanskrit conjuncts).

Of course, it is not necessary to use the same font both for
Devanagari and Latin scripts. Polyglossia can help you to switch the
font automatically when you switch a language, ucharclasses can also
be used.

> Jürgen
> ---
> Prof. Dr. Juergen Hanneder
> Philipps-Universitaet Marburg
> FG Indologie u. Tibetologie
> Deutschhausstr.12
> 35032 Marburg
> Germany
> Tel. 0049-6421-28-24930
> hanneder at staff.uni-marburg.de
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Zdeněk Wagner

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