[XeTeX] fonts and diacritics

Robert Zydenbos xetex at zydenbos.net
Wed Jul 1 15:50:13 CEST 2015

Please do not use the traditional TeX codes for the Indic diacritics (things like \={a} etc.)! One of the big advantages of XeTeX is precisely that it uses Unicode. This means that your input file can be typed using any Unicode-supporting text editor (I use TeXShop on a Mac, TeXworks on Linux). It is obviously much more efficient to write and read "prajñāvādāṃśca bhāṣase" than "praj\~{n}\={a}v\={a}d\={a}\d{m}\'{s}ca bh\={a}\d{s}ase". There are numerous good Unicode fonts, also such that are freely available, that produce fine results, both onscreen and on paper.

Because I had a number of files containing all those TeX codes and wanted to switch to XeTeX, I wrote a simple program (or 'script', as some people say) in Python (the older version 2.7, which is still the standard version on many machines; but it can be rather quickly adapted for version 3, I imagine) that takes a (La)TeX or ConTeXt input file with the TeX codes for Indic diacritical marks and creates an output file with all those codes turned into Unicode. (The one condition is that each letter with a diacritical mark is placed between braces. "\={a}" etc. will be recognized, but "\=a" will not, and therefore will remain unconverted.)

Should anyone be interested in receiving a copy of the program, please write to me off-list.

Robert Zydenbos

Prof. Dr. Robert J. Zydenbos
Institut für Indologie und Tibetologie
Universität München

On Jun 13, 2015, at 10:23 , hanneder at staff.uni-marburg.de wrote:

> [...]
> The problem is that I need diacritics for Indian languages. In pdflatex I use ucs for the
> utf-input, which is not perfect, but works with a few tweaks.  Of course there can be no serious
> problem in normal TeX, where you can in the worst case just type things like \.n \d{t} and the
> like, which gives you the diacritics with any font (and mostly looks quite good).
> In XeTeX a considerable number of otf-fonts does not yield the expected result. In the ADF fonts,
> for instance, regardless whether you use ṅ or \.n, it does not work. Usually the macron \=a works,
> but not the underdot ṭ (\d{t}) or the dot above the ṅ (\.n). [...]

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