For several reasons, I am working on a source file that should be compilable by either xelatex or lualatex. I would like British hyphenation for the text and am using csquotes and biblatex with british options.

On the XeTeX mailing list two things were mentioned:

(a) Use polyglossia, not babel with xelatex;

(b) polyglossia is incompatible with lualatex at present; use babel instead.

I show below a sample file with my question and my present setup.

    \setmainfont{Minion Pro}
    \setsansfont{Myriad Pro}
% We want to compile with either xelatex or lualatex
% The former requires polyglossia for british hyphenation
% The latter requires bable for british hyphenation
% Ideally something like (unsure if this is correct)
% \ifxetex
%       \usepackage{polyglossia}
%       \setmainlanguage[variant=british]{english}
% \ifluatex
%       usepackage[british]{babel}
% should work but I do not know the correct syntax for it.
% My workaround is:
% which works but is inelegant in a *LaTeX source file.
  Try some hyphenation, some \enquote{quotations}, and some references to see if everything works.

Any suggestions to make hyphenation and other language features like date work consistently across both xelatex and lualatex is most welcome.

  • 4
    Actually you can use babel with XeLaTeX, as long as you don't start trying it with exotic languages. English (both British and American) should work without any glitch. – egreg Nov 4 '11 at 18:29

While polyglossia is widely recommended for XeLaTeX usage, babel can still be used for languages that need only the Latin alphabet.


This loads polyglossia for xetex and babel for luatex.

  • 1
    I find that the above works if I compile with lualatex and later with xelatex. However, if I first compile with xelatex and later with lualatex it gives me a babel error. I then need to delete the .aux file before compiling with lualatex, and all goes well. I point this out not because it is serious but because one needs to remember to delete the .aux file. – chandra Nov 6 '11 at 14:44
  • 1
    That's it! Indeed .aux files should be cleaned when you change compiler. I don't know remedy to copy with this problem. – Igor Kotelnikov Nov 6 '11 at 15:12
  • @Igor it is due to the multi-pass nature of LaTeX. Thus, it is probably not to be solved, except for the deletion of temporary files. Which is probably a wise thing to do anyway when switching environment, as you mention. – Legolas Mar 21 '12 at 10:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.