The usual way to type the « and » characters in LaTeX is to use the commands "<, for «, and ">, for », while using the babel package with the italian option, and the inputenc package with the utf8 option.

This always worked for me, but since yesterday this combination doesn't work anymore. For instance, this is the way this MWE is rendered:



"<Hello world!">

«Hello world!»

I realized this while working on a document on which I was using more or less ten different packages, so I initially thought that some packages maybe were conflicting with others, but then I tried to render a previous document on which the « and » characters were correctly displayed, without changing anything in the code, and they were now displayed this way too.

Do you have a clue about what's going on?

The TeX version I'm using is this one:

TeX 3.14159265 (TeX Live 2015/dev/Debian)

  • 1
    Besides @egreg's comment, you have to issue the command \setactivedoublequote after loading babel. Try texdoc babel-italian and read the caption of table 1. Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 18:55
  • 1
    Besides what Arash says (correct), you also need \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} and then you just have to type <<Hello world>> (no \setactivedoublequote needed for this).
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 19:00
  • 2
    Curious, \setactivedoublequoteworks. I never used it though :\ Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 19:03
  • 3
    You could consider switching to csquotes to handle your quotes without bad surprises.
    – Clément
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


I had to put \setactivedoublequote in the preamble. I'm not sure why I never had to use it, but whatever, now it works.

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