This closed question prompts me to propose a more general question and a solution I don't think has been demonstrated here.

When compiling with LuaLaTeX and using Unicode input, how do you set up a fallback font for specific Unicode characters that are absent from the main font?

I would welcome other approaches or critiques of the one I demonstrate.


1 Answer 1


We can define a command to switch to a fallback font using fontspec.

Then we can use newunicodechar to map the missing Unicode characters to a command that switched to the fallback font for those characters.

\usepackage{fontspec, newunicodechar}
\setmainfont{PT Serif}
\newfontfamily{\fallbackfont}{Linux Libertine O}[Scale=MatchLowercase]

Hellɔ woϱld.

enter image description here

Output of pdffonts showing that both fonts are used:

name                                 type              emb sub uni object ID
------------------------------------ ----------------- --- --- --- ---------
NUOAQT+PTSerif-Regular               CID TrueType      yes yes yes      4  0
UAEGUX+LinLibertineO                 CID Type 0C       yes yes yes      5  0


We could also define a general command for setting up missing characters. It takes an optional argument which defaults to \textfallback, but a different font could be inserted in case an additional fallback font was needed.

  • 5
    \DeclareTextFontCommand\textfallback{\fallbackfont} is the official way of defining \textfallback.
    – Manuel
    Jan 23, 2015 at 15:08
  • 1
    LaTeS kernel, IIRC.
    – Manuel
    Jan 23, 2015 at 15:13
  • 1
    @Manuel Thank you for improving the answer! I found the command on line 3721 of latex.ltx. I edited the answer to use this. Jan 23, 2015 at 15:26
  • 5
    I am wondering if this could be automated somehow, so that whenever fontspec stumbles upon a character that is not in the font, it prints that character with \textfallback instead.
    – Gaussler
    Jan 23, 2015 at 19:50
  • 1
    @Gaussler This might interest you: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/53599/… Jan 23, 2015 at 20:17

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