I wish to write a paper about linguistics, so I thought about trying LaTeX. Sadly I couldn't figure out how to write the unique characters I need for my work, for example epsilon with a little tilde above it, i with two dots above it, velar nasal and so on.

I know I can write stuff like ó with \'{o}, but I couldn't figure out how to put the epsilon in there, or how to write more unique characters.

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    Try the tipa package at ctan. – Yiannis Lazarides Nov 29 '11 at 16:54
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    The tag wiki for the linguistics tag summarizes some of the popular packages for use in linguistics. – Alan Munn Nov 29 '11 at 17:17
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    there's also a mailing list devoted to linguistics use of (la)tex. archives here, subscribe by sending a message to sympa@ifi.uio.no with the subject "subscribe ling-tex". – barbara beeton Nov 29 '11 at 18:37

There are two ways to write IPA symbols in LaTeX. One uses regular pdfLaTeX and the tipa package; the other uses XeLaTeX or LuaLaTeX and you can enter the symbols directly into your source, assuming you have the correct fonts.

The SIL Doulos font is an excellent Unicode IPA font that is widely used in Linguistics. You can download it here.. But many other OpenType fonts have a full set of phonetic characters too.

I'll outline both techniques here:



Using XeLaTeX or LuaLaTeX

\setmainfont{Doulos SIL}



output of code 1output of code 2

There are advantages and disadvantages to each method. The main advantage of the XeLaTeX/LuaLaTeX route is that your source code becomes much more readable. The downside of this, however, is that you need to develop techniques for entering all the characters, which isn't necessarily fast. However, if you are already used to the TIPA input method (or have existing documents) the xunicode package (which is loaded by fontspec) allows you to use most (but not all) TIPA input methods as well, so for many kinds of input you can have either.

The TIPA method allows for a faster input method at the expense of less readable source.

  • For entering the characters, I recommend emacs and set-input-method - there's ipa, ipa-praat, ipa-x-sampa, ipa-kirshenbaum. Choose your poison. – Reactormonk Oct 16 '12 at 22:21
  • did anyone write aa conventer from unicode ipa symbols to tipa representation? – smihael Aug 21 '15 at 23:50
  • @smihael Not that I know of. Why would you want to go in that direction? If you're entering IPA you might as well use XeLaTeX or LuaLaTeX and not use TIPA at all. – Alan Munn Aug 21 '15 at 23:56
  • Sometimes XeLaTeX or LuaLaTeX are not available on target system and you already have copied IPA representation from online dictionaries. Maybe I'll write a simple converter one day :) – smihael Aug 22 '15 at 0:51
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    If you wonder, the first line reads "This is some IPA" and the second line reads "It's really easy to type". That link can pronounce IPA text itinerarium.github.io/phoneme-synthesis – Denis Cousineau Apr 18 '18 at 18:37

If you need to type characters from the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), you can use the package TIPA, whose manual is also available. I found its sources within my installation of TexLive 2011, but haven't tested them yet.

There's also a paper from tug about it.

To research about special tildes and characters, you can read:


If you love the traditional typefaces provided by the tipa package, but are unable to use the Unicode data with it, don't worry! There is a new package on CTAN named unitipa which converts not only the independent consonant and vowel characters, but also the dependent vowel diacritics with the help of LuaLaTeX. See the following example.

%!TeX Program = lualatex

hɛlo wəːld

ðɪs ɪz aɪ pʰiː eɪ

k̥ e̬ o̹ o̜ u̟ l̠ e̽ m̩ a̯ b̤ t̼ l̴ ɛ̝ e̞ e̘ e̙ t̪ t̺ n̻ p̚

Your Unicode input will output the beautiful tipa design and you can stick to the Computer Modern font as only tipa matches with it.


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    I really think this is a bad idea. The T3 encoding creates output that is not cut and pasteable in the way that using a proper unicode font would be. The cm-unicode font covers most of the IPA symbols, so if people are really wedded to Computer Modern, I would recommend they use that font rather than your solution. – Alan Munn Sep 23 '20 at 14:05

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