# How to typeset greek letters

I want to write a sentence like "physics (from ancient greek φύσις)". But I don't know how to typeset the character "ύ" properly. Also I am not sure, if it is a good idea simply to use math-mode here to typeset the greek letters. So, what's the best way to typeset the ancient greek word φύσις?

Edit: I should add that I just copied the word from wikipedia in this case, so the xelatex or babel solutions work very well since I can just copy the greek word into my latex source. But I don't know how I can insert those greek letters directly with my normal german keyboard layout.

• When you copy Greek words from Wikipedia, make sure the diacriticals are correct. Modern Greek indicates stress with a diacritical very much like the oxeia (acute accent), but not necessarily quite like it. You may be using a Unicode precomposed form meant for Modern Greek which may not render quite right (e.g. accent sign pointing up). Depends on the fonts. – Alexios Sep 3 '12 at 12:24
• @student In regard of your edit. All you have to do is to add another keyboard layout at your operating system and a keyboard shortcut to change between the keyboard layouts. It is rather easy. Google is your friend. – pmav99 Sep 4 '12 at 18:01

If you just need a few words, then a simple approach can solve your problem:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[LGR,T1]{fontenc}
\newcommand{\textgreek}[1]{\begingroup\fontencoding{LGR}\selectfont#1\endgroup}
\begin{document}
physics (from ancient greek \textgreek{f'usis})
\end{document}


For longer passages, perhaps loading the polutoniko option with babel may be recommended. Check in the documentation of babel for the translitteration scheme used.

You may also choose different fonts for Greek (the GFS fonts support many of them).

## Update

With recent and uptodate TeX distributions, one can also input directly the Greek characters:

% -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[LGR,T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}   % utf8 is required

\newcommand{\textgreek}[1]{\begingroup\fontencoding{LGR}\selectfont#1\endgroup}

\begin{document}
physics (from ancient greek \textgreek{φύσις})
\end{document}

• Update: as of TeX Live 2013, loading the LGRx encoding is not necessary any more. – egreg Jul 11 '14 at 15:10
• Is there another update? I get "Package fontenc Error: Encoding file lgrenc.def' not found.(fontenc)" and then "Package inputenc Error: Unicode char φ (U+3C6)(inputenc) not set up for use with LaTeX." – Dr Xorile Aug 30 '17 at 14:43
• @DrXorile Yes, you should do \usepackage[LGR,T1]{inputenc} – egreg Aug 30 '17 at 15:57
• Hmmm. That still doesn't work for me ("LaTeX Error: Fill LGR.def' not found."). I could ask a new question, but thought it might be relevant to keep the answer here? – Dr Xorile Aug 30 '17 at 17:05
• Note that this solution might introduce unwanted Type3 fonts, installing cm-super or using the lmodern package can address this issue (see tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1291/…). – Marijn Apr 5 at 14:16

use xelatex or lualatex. Then it is really simple:

\documentclass[12pt]{article}
\usepackage{fontspec}
\setmainfont{DejaVu Serif}

\begin{document}

foo φύσις  bar

\end{document}


• I feel that this is the only clean solution. We have created a universal provision for typesetting international letters – Unicode. Everything else is a hack. – Konrad Rudolph Sep 3 '12 at 12:14
• Not much use if you don't want DejaVu, nice as it is. This solution does not work with the default Computer Modern (lrm) nor with many other XeLaTeX-compliant font packages. – Peter Flynn Sep 22 '16 at 11:02
• macOS with Homebrew: brew cask install font-dejavu-sans – fiedl Apr 23 at 16:47

Another way to do this:

\documentclass[10pt,a4paper]{article}
\usepackage[utf8x]{inputenc}
\usepackage[greek,english]{babel}
\begin{document}
physics (from ancient greek \textgreek{φύσις})
\end{document}


Here you can take advantage of LaTeX' ability to recognize Greek characters when babel loads the greek support module. utf8x (Extended UTF-8) encoding of the input file makes sure the characters are mapped correctly. As you can see, with this solution you can keep the Greek letters, no need to transcribe them with Latin characters. (Unlike egreg's solution, here I set the input encoding, not the font encoding.)

• The font encoding is implicitly chosen by \textgreek – egreg Sep 3 '12 at 11:39
• @egreg: Doesn't seem to work properly here... If I remove \usepackage[utf8x]{inputenc}, I get gibberish. – Count Zero Sep 3 '12 at 11:43
• Of course! Without it, LaTeX doesn't know how to interpret the characters. – egreg Sep 3 '12 at 11:48
• @egreg: Ah, sorry I misread your comment... font encoding is implicitly chosen! (Somehow I thought input encoding... Gotta be more thorough... ˙:)˙) – Count Zero Sep 3 '12 at 11:50
• I get "Package babel Error: Unknown option greek'." It's all greek to me... – Dr Xorile Aug 30 '17 at 14:46

simply load \usepackage{betababel} instead of babel -- and you can type every text in ancient greek directly from your keyboard (for information on digitating betacode, see package manual). Example:

\documentclass[10pt, a4paper]{scrbook}
\usepackage[brazil]{betababel}
\begin{document}
text \bcode{fu/sis} text
\end{document}


result:

A quick comment on the 'Update' part of egreg's answer. You can also give instructions for a particular Greek font to be used in the output, rather than a default, like this (using GFS Porson for Greek and Tex Gyre Pagella for English):

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[LGR,T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage{gfsporson}
\usepackage{tgpagella}
\let\textgreek=\textporson

\begin{document}
An accurate picture of the world:

\textgreek{οὐ γάρ τις πρῆξις πέλεται κρυεροῖο γόοιο.}
\end{document}
`

This also simplifies (at least superficially) the definition of \textgreek{}. I guess it works because the GFS fonts use LGR as their encoding.

• Welcome to TeX.SX! You can have a look at our starter guide to familiarize yourself further with our format. – Paul Gessler Jul 11 '14 at 13:21