Romanizing Arabic is the process of converting an arabic word or expression (أمجد كان له قصر) to roman (in this example = amjad kāna lahu qaṣr) However the process of adding those special characters such as ʾ ā ṯ ḥ ṣ ḍ ṭ ẓ ʿ, takes a lot of time by manually copy-pasting things

Is there any trick by which one can speed up this process in LaTeX?

  • Welcome to TeX.Stackexchange! Do you want to automatically convert ه to a (or whatever the convertion rules are, I have no idea about this) or are you looking for ways to speed up typing things like ā? Aug 27, 2016 at 11:32
  • 2
    It would probably be helpful to know which tex engine you are using. Aug 27, 2016 at 12:33
  • Also, what method would you prefer? Doing this automatically is kind of impossible, I think. You always need to tell Latex which letters need diacritics, and which ones don't.
    – Alenanno
    Aug 27, 2016 at 12:47
  • metacpan.org/release/Lingua-Translit may be of interest.
    – Thérèse
    Aug 27, 2016 at 14:24
  • 1
    @DonLon By engine, he meant:pdflatex, lualatex, xelatex and so on.
    – Alenanno
    Aug 27, 2016 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


I am not entirely sure what you are looking for.

1. Option

If you want to automatically transform words written in the original Arabic (such as كان) into its grammatically correct transliteration (in this case kāna), then it is obvious that no such automatic transformation is possible. It is a peculiar feature of the Arabic language that it only writes the consonants and long vowels and leaves out the short vowels. it is, however, the short vowels which determine the exact meaning of a word and its function in a sentence. Thus, as I am sure you know, most words in Arabic can be interpreted differently: for example كتب can mean both kataba (verb) and kutub (noun), depending on its use in the sentence.

So, if this is what you are looking for, then there is no way to transform Arabic into transliteration. You could, however, use arabtex and arabluatex which allows you to write an Arabic text in an idiosyncratic transliteration format which then can be displayed either in Arabic letters or on a transliterated format.

2. Option

If you merely want to input special characters such as ā, š, ṣ, ʾ, ʿ, ḫ, ġ and so on, then this is very easy (provided you either use the modern formats LuaLaTeX or XeLaTeX, or set your system up for unicode; all this is explained here).

On a Mac, you can download a diacritic keyboard layout (e.g. from here) and set it up. In order to type ḫ, for example, you would have to press ALT+f.

On a PC you can use a tool such as Clavier to design your own shortcuts.

  • In addition to what has been said by @clinteastwood, I'd say that romanizing fully vocalized Arabic would be possible, provided that you start from such forms as كَانَ. Sep 2, 2016 at 11:40
  • I was looking for option 2. Thanks for the suggestions.
    – Don Lon
    Sep 6, 2016 at 13:47

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