I use LaTeX (in detail I use pdflatex from MikTeX) for automatically generating documents based on data gathered from the Internet. Of course this means that those pages can contain small parts of other languages such as Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Turkish, ...

Therefore I don't know what languages are used and where they are used within my document.

Until now I have replace all characters from foreign languages by a dot to avoid problems, but in some situations e.g. company names then end up as ..... instead of some Chinese characters.

Is it possible to build one LaTeX document that allows all available languages or at least a large set of languages?

If it is possible how do I know what Unicode characters are supported in this document and which not so I can filter them before generating the .tex sources?

  • with pdflatex this is very hard. With lualatex you can cover a rather large part of unicode. Apr 30, 2021 at 12:53
  • 1
    Indeed using LuaLaTeX or XeLaTeX you can display almost all unicode text. The most important constraint is that you need a font that has coverage for all the different scripts. You can also combine fonts such that different scripts are displayed with different fonts automatically, see for example tex.stackexchange.com/questions/514940/….
    – Marijn
    Apr 30, 2021 at 12:55
  • "based on data gathered from the Internet" - in case of problems, it may be a good idea to check the encoding of the original data - not all websites use unicode (and unicode can be UTF-8, UTF16BE, UTF16LE...). So the first step must be: Make one encoding (e.g. UTF-8).
    – knut
    Apr 30, 2021 at 13:24
  • @knut Yes, correct encoding is a requirement. I did not mention it, but the data is from web pages, but from a JSON API and therefore already UTF-8 encoded.
    – JMax
    Apr 30, 2021 at 13:40
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    @Marijn the new fallback key in luaotfload if better to setup fonts which covers a large range of scripts, see the luaotfload docu or e.g. tex.stackexchange.com/a/572220/2388 Apr 30, 2021 at 13:48

2 Answers 2


Here is an example of a document that automatically detects several different scripts.

It’s not always possible to detect which language is using a given script, for example, whether you’re processing Arabic versus Persian, or Spanish versus French, Unfortunately, there are a few languages that write the same Unicode codepoints differently, such as Japanese Kanji and traditional Chinese, and you could not display those correctly without tagging.

The simplest solution is to select a font that supports a large number of scripts, such as FreeSerif or DejaVu Sans. No OpenType font can support all of Unicode, but you probably only care about languages that are still spoken today.


With xelatex and polyglossia one can make multilanguage pdf's. For asia languages one need ucharclasses too.

% !TEX TS-program = xelatex
% !TEX encoding = UTF-8 Unicode
\documentclass[12pt, a4paper]{article}


\setotherlanguages{hebrew, greek, japanese}
\newfontfamily\hebrewfont{SBL Hebrew}
\newfontfamily\greekfont{SBL Greek}
\newfontfamily{\cjkfont}{WenQuanYi Zen Hei}



\textgreek{αταραξία}. That was in Greek using SBL Greek.

\texthebrew{קֹהֶלֶת}. That was in Hebrew using SBL Hebrew.

\textjapanese{東南西北} That was in CJK using WenQuanYi.

  • But that still requires to scan the text I have and based on the Unicode characters try to build those language specific sections. This is not simply pasting UTF-8 characters in a document and go like it is in HTML :(
    – JMax
    Apr 30, 2021 at 13:24
  • You can do that, but probably get main font for those characters, other than japanese.
    – Oni
    Apr 30, 2021 at 13:49

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