Is It Impossible To Print Org-Mode Files With Unicode To PDF?

Org-Mode uses UTF-8 files. Therefore you can use the full range of Unicode characters in them. As long as you have a font that contains them, then they will show up correctly. However, when you export to a PDF, why don’t they show up in the PDF?

The reason is that the exporter from Org-Mode to the PDF doesn’t know what fonts to use. It can be extremely frustrating when you run into this problem. Is it impossible to print Org-Mode files with Unicode to PDF? No, it is possible, and here is one way to make it happen.

This package makes it very easy to export your Unicode characters to PDF. The whole topic is somewhat mundane when you think about it, but if you are facing this problem, then you will probably find the solution tantalizing.

Whether Unicode is an issue for you or not, you should still read about the package because, as an Org-Mode user, you should know #1 that such a problem exists #2 that a solution exists for it. People moving to Org-Mode from everything ranging from WYSIWYG editors to other markup languages must consider the “Using Unicode Characters” problem. If you’re ever going to recommend that somebody replace their existing tools with Org-Mode, you are duty-bound to understand both the problem and the solution.

Thanks for reading this. Be well.

Crossposted to /r/orgmode

Crossposted to /r/emacs

4 thoughts on “Is It Impossible To Print Org-Mode Files With Unicode To PDF?”

    1. Yes and—

      The problem we face is when the primary fonts we configure for XeTeX (main font, sans font, and mono font) don’t contain the Unicode characters we want to use, which seems to be most of the time. For example in my configuration I use Deja Vu Serif, Deja Vu Sans, and Hack: I believe that none of them have the smiley. In order to use another font for the Emoticons you need to configure XeTeX to use that font. Out of the box it isn’t as easy setting the Emoticon font as setting the other three kinds of fonts.

      There are a few good ways to do this with each with pros and cons, and difficulty setting up. I chose the simplest solution for people that are writing documents in Org-Mode that are primarily Latin-script, because, I never found any documentation on how to do it for people that are primarily Org-Mode users and not LaTeX or XeTeX users.

      The README goes into great detail about all of the problem definition, thought process, pros and cons, justification for the approach, and of course the approach itself.

      1. Thanks for the explanation. I didn’t look at the README before because there is a problem with the link in your post, but now I understand reasonably well.

        (For me the problem doesn’t really arise: I use mathematical symbols written in pure LaTeX, Greek letters and French characters, so I don’t go outside the normal range of an OpenType font.)

        1. You are welcome.

          Thanks for letting me know about the bad link: it is fixed.

          Gotcha about the fonts.

          Be well.

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