In german, there are three special characters ä,ö and ü that are often written as two: ae,oe,ue.

Is there a font, that shows an "ä" whenever the letters "ae" appear?

I thought this would be solveable with a pseudo ligature, that combines both letters.

  • Welcome to TeX.SX! This must be language dependent then, mustn't it? hue in English should'nt be transformed into , most likely
    – user31729
    Sep 7, 2015 at 14:46
  • 3
    Never heard of one. And I can tell you some points why you won't find one, I fear: Aerobic, Oeuvre, Aerodynamik,... zueinander, soeben,... Soest, Coesfeld,... Rafael, Samuel, Noemi, Joel, Nathanael, Ismael ... Fuest...
    – LaRiFaRi
    Sep 7, 2015 at 14:51
  • Yesterday evening I had to smile when thinking about you having typeset Manuel Neuer's soccer shirt.
    – LaRiFaRi
    Sep 8, 2015 at 8:33

2 Answers 2


AFAIK, there isn't.

In addition, this "feature" would cause more trouble than gain, because there are lots of words in German where the ligature is not wanted, e.g., aktuell, Bauer, neue, raue, Osloer, Bebraer, ...

If you really want to create such kind of font, you are free to do so: Copy a given font to a new name, convert the tfm (TeX Font metrics) file with the utility tftopl into a property list, and than add ligatures by editing the property list. The relevant section of the property list reads (here taken from the font ecrm1000 for the letter f):

   (LABEL C f)
   (LIG C i O 34)
   (LIG C f O 33)
   (LIG C l O 35)

so you can easily add ligatures to the renamed font like

   (LABEL C a)
   (LIG C e O 304)

and convert it back to a valid tfm file by using tftopl. (In fact, you will probably find the (LABEL C a) statement initiating the section of kernings after the letter a in the tfm file.

Please note, that renaming the fonts is necessary for two reasons:

  1. Avoid confusion between the originals and the changed fonts
  2. It is required by the licences of typical fonts coming with a TeX distribution (e.g., the Computer Modern fonts or the ec fonts).
  • Could you use such a font in other programs? for ex. create a webfont for use on a website?
    – rubo77
    Sep 8, 2015 at 8:01
  • @rubo77 Probably not, I am not aware of large scale adoption of TeX fonts by communities outside TeX (The only exception I know is the programm groff which can produce dvi files directly from *roff input) Sep 8, 2015 at 8:19

You can replace the "ae", "oe", and "ue" strings globally during input processing, by using LuaLaTeX. However, I wouldn't advise anyone actually do so. The following sample sentence illustrates why it wouldn't be a good idea.

enter image description here

% arara: lualatex


function double_vowel_to_umlaut ( x )
      x =  string.gsub ( x, "ae", "ä") 
      x =  string.gsub ( x, "oe", "ö") 
      x =  string.gsub ( x, "ue", "ü") 
      return ( x )
   luatexbase.add_to_callback( "process_input_buffer", 
      double_vowel_to_umlaut, "doublevowel_to_umlaut")}}

Samuel, Joel, und Rafael trafen sich beim Taekwondo zu neuen Duellen. 
  • 2
    I get this interesting error: “/opt/texlive/2015/texmf-dist/tex/generic/oberdiek/ifpdf.sty:231: Undefined control sequence. l.231 \pdftrü”
    – Thérèse
    Sep 7, 2015 at 17:23
  • 1
    @Thérèse I guess that \pdftrü was \pdftrue before... Mico put the function in an \AtBeginDocument directive which is hopefully more stable and works for you.
    – LaRiFaRi
    Sep 8, 2015 at 8:25

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