How to type special/accented letters in LaTeX?

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[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{lmodern} % load a font with all the characters


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:

\usepackage{fontspec}


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 at 14:53

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.

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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:

• Heiko Oberdiek (author of selinput):

The input encoding depends on the editor that is used to write the TeX file … If the user is troubled to find the right encoding, then package selinput can help, …
(Encoding problems with custom LaTeX class (only on Windows 7/8). Why?)

• For languages other than English you can choose a semiautomatic input selection. … The selinput package is part of the oberdiek bundle. It will select the right input encoding in dependence of the file encoding.
(German character not rendered to pdf)

You could choose another way of input encoding by the selinput package from the oberdiek bundle. It chooses the right encoding by some glyphs from your language correspondingly to the encoding of the source file.
(How to use spanish accents?)

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.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{selinput}
\SelectInputMappings{%