I can't get italics to display correctly with xelatex for Japanese or Latin text using Japanese fonts.

Sample file:


\setromanfont{MS Mincho}  

regular テスト  
\emph{italics テスト}  

It should show "italics テスト" or at the very least "italics テスト" but instead shows "italics テスト".

The log says:

LaTeX Font Info:    Some font shapes were not available, defaults substituted.

So I guess most Japanese fonts don't have italics built in even for the latin characters. Does anybody know of free or inexpensive fonts with true italics like these that DOESN'T cost $595.00? http://store1.adobe.com/cfusion/store/html/index.cfm?store=OLS-US&event=displayFontPackage&code=1801

  • 1
    Is italic even a normal font style for Japanese? I thought those would only be meaningful for Latin scripts.
    – Joey
    Mar 7, 2009 at 23:59
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    Oct 15, 2011 at 19:13

6 Answers 6


The Meiryo fonts work great and free too (for Windows users)! http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=f7d758d2-46ff-4c55-92f2-69ae834ac928&displaylang=en

It has italics for the latin characters to they will italics will probably show without having to switch to another font.


The concept of "italic" is indeed not useful for Japanese characters; you can, of course, slant the characters, but not knowing Japanese I have no idea how a reader would interpret such.

My system does not have the font MS Mincho, but I do have a few Adobe Japanese fonts, and none of them have oblique versions. What you are seeing in other programs is probably the creation of a fake italic font by taking the "roman" (actually Japanese characters in this case) glyphs and just drawing them skewed. LaTeX has some concept of typography, and TeX will refuse to bastardize fonts in this way. If you want slanted Japanese characters, you will have to find a font for them.

Really, though, why do you want to "italicize" Japanese characters anyway? To indicate emphasis? If that's what you want, you really ought to find out how this is properly done in Japanese, and do it that way.

  • Thanks for the explanation. I'm writing something with a lot of English and Japanese interspersed and I don't want to have to change fonts back and forth. Hiragino Kaku Gothic Pro W3 in particular looks good for both Japanese and English but I suppose I'll have to keep switching fonts then. Lame.
    – Tae
    Mar 8, 2009 at 0:40
  • If you are only italicizing Latin characters (with a Japanese font), and you have another font's italic which is compatible with your roman font, you can set LaTeX to use the other font when you call for italics. You'll have to look up how to do this though; I can never remember the incantations.
    – kquinn
    Mar 8, 2009 at 0:47
  • It's an ugly, hackish procedure, nasty to do and rarely needed, but it might be the right solution for you. If it doesn't end up being too hacky; TeX font support was designed in the late 70s, and it shows.
    – kquinn
    Mar 8, 2009 at 0:49
  • Actually, METAFONT was completely re-designed in the mid-1980's. :-)
    – Ken
    Mar 8, 2009 at 0:59
  • Thanks for correcting me; I wasn't sure if the '80s revamp included the font selection system. It's still a bunch of ancient rubbish, though. Another option for the OP: use boldface. My Japanese fonts have several weights, and it's an expedient, if typographically suboptimal, solution.
    – kquinn
    Mar 8, 2009 at 1:04

If you use the xeCJK package, you can pass it the AutoFakeSlant option, for example:




Some CJK fonts don't have separate italic font(s), instead they have ital features that maps Latin glyphs to italic forms, so in fontspec you can do:

  ItalicFont=MS Mincho,
  ItalicFeatures={Style=Italic}]{MS Mincho}

Of course this only works if MS Mincho have an ital feature.


Japanese doesn't have italics, as far as I know. Emphasis is indicated in other ways: dots placed next to the characters, use of katakana instead of hiragana or kanji, enclosing in Japanese quotation marks, etc.

  • 1
    Japanese does have italics. I've updated the post to show italics for Japanese.
    – Tae
    Mar 8, 2009 at 0:11
  • In that case I don't know, though at a guess I would say the fonts you are using might not have Japanese italics.
    – Amanda S
    Mar 8, 2009 at 0:24
  • Japanese fonts don't have italics; any italics you see are auto-generated by slanting the regular font. Some Japanese+Latin fonts have italics purely for the Latin characters, leaving the kana and kanji alone.
    – bobince
    Mar 8, 2009 at 0:45
  • Tae: I don't see Japanese italics; I see oblique katakana. I guess your browser is willing to oblique-ify anything, but TeX isn't.
    – Ken
    Mar 8, 2009 at 0:58
  • bobince: Thanks for the clarification. I guess I can buy Adobe Kozuka Gothic/Mincho Pro Font with true italics for $595. Great. Do you know of any fonts that won't break the bank?
    – Tae
    Mar 9, 2009 at 18:06

As others have said, if the font doesn't contain italics then you're not going to have much luck.

However, sometimes you just need to be able to fake it, and recent versions of XeTeX+fontspec allow you to do just that:

\setmainfont[ItalicFont=MS Mincho,
  ItalicFeatures={FakeSlant}]{MS Mincho}

or something along those lines.

  • I'm probably not doing this right but I get ! Package xkeyval Error: no value specified for key 'FakeSlant'.
    – Tae
    Apr 11, 2009 at 0:41

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