[XeTeX] fonts and diacritics

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Sat Jun 13 11:21:26 CEST 2015

Dear Juergen,

Nice to see you here (I just read your 2011 I. Taurinensia paper last

Yes, you are right, some fonts just don't have the right characters in
them. Some of the font "pigeonholes" are empty.  If you make the character
with a TeX macro (\.n) then usually things work even if the font lacks the
char, because TeX puts together an accent from one place with the character
from another.  If the overdot accent char is missing, then even TeX can't
fix things.

I use the following at the start of my docs:

% XeLaTeX stuff:
% Normalize any residual Unicode combining accents,
% and write out error messages, if any:

You can read up on what these do, but especially the \tracinglostchars is
helpful so that missing chars are flagged in the log file.

And for complete fonts, I find the SIL fonts, like Gentium, the TeXGyre
family, and the Brill font <http://www.brill.com/about/brill-fonts> (that
is free to use but not for publishing with others than Brill without
permission), are all complete for Indic work.  Oh, and also John Smith's
fonts, at http://Bombay.indology.info.  DejaVu fonts are also very
complete.  I'm sure there are many others: these are just my personal
practical observations without a systematic survey or testing.

Yesterday, Alessandro Graheli was telling me that the Murty Library fonts
<http://www.murtylibrary.com/design-and-typography.php> are excellent;
especially he praised their Devanagari, that is explicitly modelled on the
Nirnayasagara family.  Fiona Ross was involved in making the Murty fonts,
and she is extremely experienced and knowledgeable about Indian fonts. The
Murty fonts are like the Brill, you can use them freely, but if you want to
publish a book with them, you have to ask permission.

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