I am new here. I am looking for a bi-directional editor that works with LaTeX system and supports Unicode. I need it in order to write Hebrew, Arabic, etc.


3 Answers 3


Texmaker, TexStudio, TexShop (for Macs) and Texworks can handle unicode/bidirectional text.

  • @Joseph: Do you know of any comparative experiences with or tests exclusively devoted to the bidirectional support of these editors? So far, I am using TeXShop and like that it is plain and simple. What bugs me, though, is that there seems to be some threshold that governs the direction of every line. A line of arabic RLT-text switches to LTR when I type in a enough english LTR-text as a footnote. All the brackets & arguments of commands like \footnote and \cite go crazy. However, of course, even professional text applications like Oxygen haven't yet managed bidirectional textsupport perfectly Mar 4, 2012 at 17:31
  • @ClintEastwood, the fact that footnotes and citations “go crazy” must be due to their changing from RTL to LTR — in fact you do have to change to Latin text to input Latex commands, so maybe the editor assumes that after many lines of Latin text you’re really typing only Latin text. But does that affect the compiled document (pdf)? “crazy things” also happens with the cursor and sometimes the text when using text processors. It might help if you input Latex commands from the editor menu, so you don’t need to change the keyboard back and forth.
    – user9424
    Mar 4, 2012 at 23:45
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    @Joseph: no it does not affect the compilation process but it does severly affect my ability to edit the tex-file, because I do not know anymore which word is in which bracket, nor do I know, where the bracket ends. It rather looks like this: \qala{قال الشيخ:} من الناس ا أن الا قطعاً ولا \variant{وهماً}{\add ولا فرضاً}{د} وأن الواط التر ولا يعلمون أنكذلك \variant{لقى}{\add إلى آخره}{ب} كل واحد من الدن يلقاه بأسره. (even though you might not know Arabic, you'lls ee my point... all is mixed up) Mar 6, 2012 at 15:29
  • @yaa09d: However, today I got lucky: I've found that Notepad++ can set the direction of the entire file to RTL. This solves my (and maybe your) problem - now I just need Notepad++ for mac... Mar 6, 2012 at 17:08

Emacs with AUCTeX supports utf8 and bidirectional text.

Further details can be found in this answer: https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/356/7880

Here is a full guide on getting Arabic text to work on linux, including both vim and emacs: From the sounds of it you need an Arabic bitmap font installed: http://projects.arabeyes.org/download/documents/howto/arabic-howto-en/

You might want to have a look at http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/DisplayEngineForArabic which describes an ongoing project to have full support for arabic.

There are directions here as well, but they seem somewhat out of date and involve compiling yourself: http://www.m17n.org/emacs-bidi/emacs-bidi.html There are more details and screenshots at the older version of the site: http://www.m17n.org/emacs-bidi/emacs-bidi-old.html

If you have trouble with left to right text this page had details on it: http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/SupportBiDi

Finally a page on bidirectional fonts: http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/windows/Fonts-and-text-translation.html

  • I tried using Emacs 23.3 and 23.4 but both shows weird symbols when I type in arabic.
    – yaa09d
    Feb 7, 2012 at 1:16
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    Did you change the encoding scheme? I know emacs can do this, but I've never worked in an language other then English myself.
    – Canageek
    Feb 7, 2012 at 4:09
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    @yaa09d It seems bidirectional text is an area that emacs is actively working on-- I linked the details. I didn't realize that Arabic is one of the hardest languages to support in a text editor.
    – Canageek
    Feb 7, 2012 at 4:22

Vim works fine with both LaTeX and Unicode, and is bidirectional. To activate right to left mode, enter :set rl or :set rightleft. For further LaTeX integrating you may want to look at the Latex-Suite.


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