I'm using XeLaTeX to compile a document, and I'm quite confused. I noticed that the character (the en dash) shows up as a normal in the main document, but as -- (two hyphens) when written with a font family I defined, although they are using the same font. Here's a MWE to show what I mean:



\setmainfont[SizeFeatures={Size=12]{CMU Sans Serif}
\newfontfamily\somefontfamily[SizeFeatures={Size=12}]{CMU Sans Serif}


{\somefontfamily The -- looks strange}

But here -- it looks just fine.


Why is there a difference, even though I'm using the same font?

  • 1
    Add the option Ligatures=TeX. – Ulrike Fischer Jun 15 '17 at 22:05

The fontspec package reads fontspec.cfg (in a standard directory, so it can be locally overridden), which contains



This means that Ligatures=TeX is only applied to \setmainfont and \setsansfont; other features are applied for \setmonofont.

Such default features might not be desired for other font families, thus you have to add Ligatures=TeX yourself to other declared families. So

\newfontfamily\somefontfamily[Ligatures=TeX,SizeFeatures={Size=12}]{CMU Sans Serif}

or (new syntax)

\newfontfamily\somefontfamily{CMU Sans Serif}[

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