How does makeindex sort alphabets of a language? How many languages does it support? Is the sorting hardcoded or does it provide someways to create sorting alphabets for a new language?

  • 1
    I'm afraid that MakeIndex supports only the Latin alphabet without diacritics. Turn to Xindy for multilanguage support.
    – egreg
    Apr 27, 2013 at 16:29
  • Interestingly, it sorts Arabic alphabets too. Apr 27, 2013 at 16:30
  • This might be a byproduct of the encoding. MakeIndex doesn't really understand Unicode, so bizarre things can happen.
    – egreg
    Apr 27, 2013 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


MakeIndex predates Unicode and hasn't been updated for many years. It supports only the Latin alphabet without diacritics; unique exception are German umlauts that can be input with Babel shorthands "a, "o and "u (but this requires a particular option and a suitable .ist file).

If MakeIndex appears to work with different alphabets or Unicode code blocks, perhaps, it's just a lucky coincidence, because it doesn't understand Unicode.

What might happen is that it sees UTF-8 pairs, so it sorts with respect to them: "ALEF" before "BEH" because the former is <D8><A7> and the latter is <D8><A8>; and so on. However it would also sort "YEH WITH HAMZA ABOVE" before "ALEF" and I don't know if this is correct.

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