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Is there some way allow PDF search to find words with ligatures? I use XeLaTeX.

\documentclass{book}
\begin{document}
Prefix.
\end{document}

In the resulting pdf file, searching for the word "Prefix" fails.

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Note that this is searchable e.g. with SumatraPDF on Win7. I'm assuming you used Acrobat Reader, with which I can reproduce your problem. Good MWE! –  doncherry Aug 19 '12 at 21:01
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Add \usepackage{fontspec}. This actually loads the package fontenc, which would solve your problem for pdfLaTeX.

As a result, the ec fonts are loaded instead of the standard Computer Modern fonts, as Ulrike remarked in the comments. For other fonts, other solutions might apply; this answer addresses a standard setup as seen in the OP's MWE.

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Your solution works because with fontspec you are using a different font which uses correct glyph names and so allow the pdf reader to "understand" the ligature. \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} (which switches from the cm fonts to the ec fonts), \usepackage{lmodern} or \usepackage{times} work too. –  Ulrike Fischer Aug 20 '12 at 8:37
    
@Ulrike - Thanks for your clue in this comment! fontspec doesn't help for fonts without proper glyph names, e.g. Cambria. I switched to LibertineOTF and all is well. –  srking Aug 20 '12 at 22:52
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