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How to type these special letters from European languages in latex? ä, é, and L'?

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With pdfLaTeX

Save your file as UTF-8 and put

\usepackage{lmodern} % load a font with all the characters

in your preamble.

Then you can just type the characters normally into your source file.

With XeLaTeX or LuaLaTeX

ALternatively you can use XeLaTeX or LuaLaTeX which accept UTF-8 input natively. In that case you need to add only:


to your preamble. You should not load inputenc (or fontenc) in this case. These engines allow you to use any font installed on your system. See the fontspec documentation for more details.

Lousy editor

If your text editor doesn't support UTF-8 encoded files, you should probably get another editor. But if you're stuck with one, you can also use:

\usepackage[latin1]{inputenc} % for PCs
\usepackage[applemac]{inputenc} % for Macs

and save the files in the default encoding for your machine. You cannot use XeLaTeX or LuaLaTeX with such files, however.

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Good advice. It's a good idea to load lmodern after switching the font encoding so that you get a font with all the extra accents and letters in it. – Will Robertson Jan 13 '11 at 7:29
Big upvote for fontspec. I was using lualatex and Unicode characters were not displayed at all. I tried inputenc, fontenc, lmodern, babel, polski and nothing worked. – user31389 May 13 '15 at 14:53
I'm all for UTF-8, but how would you suggest handling scenarios where the publisher's (archaic) template (I'm looking at you, IEEE) doesn't include the necessary packages? Would you simply add them to the template? – Dave Everitt Jan 31 at 10:46
@DaveEveritt If the publisher accepts LaTeX source documents then you should definitely not change the engine, so using LuaLaTeX or XeLaTeX instead of pdfLaTeX is almost certainly not an option. But loading inputenc and fontenc is likely to be ok. If the publisher provides a style file but you submit camera ready PDF based on the style, then using any engine you like should be fine, and therefore loading the packages you need. – Alan Munn Jan 31 at 14:52
@AlanMunn thanks, that's well-put. I suppose the only remaining issue is to make sure the result doesn't stray from the publisher's fonts. – Dave Everitt Jan 31 at 15:15

You can type texdoc lshort in a command line (Command Prompt on Windows, Terminal on Linux/Mac OS X). Then have a look at Table 2.2 in Section 2.4.8. I'll quote it for you here. alt text

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You can also type them directly and use the inputenc package, which makes your source a lot more readable. – Alan Munn Jan 13 '11 at 3:25
Do you know how to type "L'" as well? Thanks. I typed "L'" and "L\'", but both does ways do not display "L'" when it generates the pdf file. – user2918 Jan 13 '11 at 3:28
Assuming you typed "\L" and not "L\", if you're still not getting the character its because of the font encoding or the font itself (which may not have the glyph.) It should work with a standard TeX distribution. Did you try my suggestion too? – Alan Munn Jan 13 '11 at 4:24
THe problem with using character modification is that spelling no longer works properly....or maybe there's a way around that too...let me ask a new questions. – Yossi Farjoun Jan 13 '11 at 11:57
The "L'" should work with \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} and \v L – Ulrike Fischer Jan 13 '11 at 13:00

You can use Detexify. Just draw your symbol, and it will figure out what you need to type! Much easier than plowing through endless symbol tables :).

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The package selinput was not yet mentioned. Because I found good answers regarding its use on other places in TeX.SX let me first link to them:

The hardest part can be to find out, what has actually to be written in \SelectInputMappings, read the package documentation for this. You are not forced to add every letter not in ASCII range, but you have to add some distinctive characters for your language. Below I added the letters from question.


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