[XeTeX] Problems beginning typesetting arabic text

Khaled Hosny khaledhosny at eglug.org
Sat Feb 25 23:01:29 CET 2012

On Sat, Feb 25, 2012 at 09:49:01PM +0200, Tobias Schoel wrote:
> Hello to all,
> finally I have some Arabic text to typeset. Usually I skip the
> discussion on this list, if non-latin scripts are involved, but now
> I need your help.
> The following minimal example:
> \documentclass{article}
> \usepackage{fontspec}
> \setmainfont[Script=Arabic]{Amiri}
> \setromanfont{TeX Gyre Pagella}
> \newfontfamily\arabicfont[Script=Arabic]{Amiri}
> \usepackage{polyglossia}
> \setmainlanguage{arabic}
> \setotherlanguage{english}
> \begin{document}
> \begin{Arabic}التصرف عند حدوث حريق و اخلاء المدرسة\end{Arabic}
> \begin{english}Hello, World!\end{english}
> \end{document}
> Why do I have to define \arabicfont by myself? Intuitively, this
> should be done by fontspec if it detects, that the main font Amiri
> includes the Arabic script. Which it does.
> If I comment it out, polyglossia complains, that the roman main font
> (Amiri) does not support Arabic. Which it does.
> This seems to be a little weird.

\setmainfont and \setromanfont are synonyms (with the former being the
old and deprecated one, apparently for good reason), so your main font
is TeX Gyre Pagella. \arabicfont is used by polyglossia inside Aribic
environment(s), if you want to use the same font for Arabic and English
you need not to define it (but current version of Amiri lack Latin

> Finally, a little question concerning Arabic typesetting in General:
> The above line in Arabic shall be a headline for instructions, so it
> should be heavily emphasised. In Latin script, I would typeset it
> larger and with a bold face. In Arabic, this seems to be wrong as
> the usual Arabic fonts don't include bold faces. So how is heavy and
> attention drawing emphasis done in Arabic script?

In traditional Arabic printing, either a larger version of the regular
typeface will be used or an entirely different typeface, often of
heavier design and sometimes of different style (e.g. a Riqaa or even
Nastaliq). Today bold is quite acceptable (but though Amiri have a bold
font, it is not as polished as the regular one, yet). Someday, I'll have
an Amiri Display optical variant :)


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