I need to cite a book which includes a schwa ('ə') in the title.

I've been able to achieve certain diacritics in bibtex entries using commands like \'{e} (for an e with acute accent). However, when the base letter itself is not ascii, I'm not sure what to do.

My acute problem is typesetting an ə which occurs in a booktitle in the references section. More generally, I'd like to know how to use bibtex which can contain arbitrary non-ascii symbols.

  • 1
    If you don't need bibtex to know the sort order (eg it's not an author name, or you are not sorting) you can just use (say) \schwa and then arrange that that command is defined when you include the generated bbl file back into latex) May 29, 2014 at 22:15
  • @DavidCarlisle That sounds like a good solution for my acute issue---the ə is in a title, not a name. Which package defines \schwa? Is there anything special to making sure the command is defined when the generated bbl gets pulled into the latex other than saying \usepackage on whatever package defines the \schwa symbol? May 29, 2014 at 22:22
  • \DeclareRobustCommand{\schwa}{\rotatebox[origin=c]{180}{e}} (requires \usepackage{graphicx}). Or \textschwa (requires \usepackage{tipa}).
    – egreg
    May 29, 2014 at 22:30
  • 4
    The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to use biblatex + biber: biber understands utf8.
    – Bernard
    May 29, 2014 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


You can define a “poor person's schwa” with \rotatebox or use \textschwa from tipa (which has the limitation that only Computer Modern or Times are covered).

For the citation you can use the ə directly, provided you use UTF-8 as your file encoding; in case of doubt use the command form.

  author={A. Uthor},
  journal={J. Strange Letters},

\usepackage{graphicx}        % for \pmschwa
\usepackage{tipa}            % for \textschwa
\usepackage{newunicodechar}  % for using ə directly
\newunicodechar{ə}{\pmschwa} % or \textschwa




\fbox{x\pmschwa y}\fbox{e}\fbox{\pmschwa}

\fbox{x\textschwa y}\fbox{e}\fbox{\textschwa}



The \fbox commands are just to show that the bounding box is correct.

enter image description here

  • Thanks for the creative solution. I ended up just loading the tipa package and then found that using \textschwa in the title of the bibtex entry went fine . Nevertheless, considering that a schwa, strictly speaking, is simple a rotated e, I like the elegance and do-it-yourself aspects to your answer. Thank you again. May 29, 2014 at 22:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .