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I typically use LaTeX to write chemistry & physics documents with a lot of equations. I often will reference terms and variables and such in the text of my document. Typically I just do this by writing $\gamma$, but someone just pointed out to me that this prevents such characters from being copied out of the resulting PDF. I could go lookup a greek alphabet and past the character into the text file, then italicize it, but this seems painfully slow to say the least. Is there a better way of putting such characters into my document quickly other then using math-mode?

I am already using


Which is the advise I've seen for making non-math mode text copy correctly.

I'm using PDF(la)TeX if it makes a difference. As the discussion in the comments has shown, I have to specify: I'm on Windows 7, using Adobe Reader X v10.1.1.

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If I copy the result of $\gamma$ and paste it into a Unicode savvy editor, I get a γ (see?). No special trick. The string utf8 for inputenc should be lowercase, but this is not relevant for the question: it may work on Windows, but may also give problems on other platforms. –  egreg Sep 28 '11 at 22:05
Btw. originally it was a comment to Problem copying text from LaTeX PDF - special characters. –  Stefan Kottwitz Sep 28 '11 at 22:08
@egreg I just realized the problem with your answer: The reason I asked the question is that Greek letters I put in with math mode don't copy. Someone wanted to send me some revisions to something I wrote, and are not a LaTeX user, so they pasted it into word. All the Greek characters disappeared. I've tried it in notepad++ and Firefox and get a newline, and emacs gives ^M^@. So your solution, creative as it is, will not work. –  Canageek Sep 28 '11 at 23:33
@Canageek On Mac OS X it works very cleanly. Using italic Greek is not a solution, as the font won't have the correct parameters for math typesetting. –  egreg Sep 28 '11 at 23:40
@Canageek: Maybe the problem is that the font used doesn't have greek characters on your colleague's computer? –  ℝaphink Sep 29 '11 at 6:06

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

One workaround, though ugly, is to use a different PDF reader: It appears the problem is Adobe Reader. I tested this in SumatraPDF v1.8 and text copied from it to Word 2010 and GNU Emacs 23.3.1 (i386-mingw-nt6.1.7601) fine. It didn't copy to notepad++ oddly. When I used the exact same document it left blanks or odd characters in all 3 of those pieces of software.

If anyone has some magic to make Adobe Reader copy it I would love to hear it though, as that is what 90% of people I send my work to will be using.

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"90% of people I send my work to will be using [Adobe Reader]" … when you send your work (I guess by email) add a note along the lines of "best viewed using Sumatra". You will make all of us a favor. –  Hector Jul 27 '12 at 0:45

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