XeLaTeX for linguistics

What is it?

XeLaTeX is a way of writing and typesetting documents which is widely used in academia. With XeLaTeX, you write your document using a special markup language. The document is then compiled by an engine and a PDF file is produced as the output. If you are familiar with other markup languages, like HTML, you are pretty much used to the way XeLaTeX works. You can see an example of a document written in XeLaTeX in the image below.

On the right, you can see the XeLaTeX code and on the left the compiled PDF document.

Why bother?

Since XeLaTeX was especially designed for Humanities and, in particular, disciplines that must handle non-common fonts and complex text formatting, it is highly recommended for linguistics. Here are some specific features that you will benefit from XeLaTeX:

  • advanced font handling (no more wondering diacritics or question marks)
  • easy creation of table of contents, list of tables and figures
  • automatic cross-referencing for sections, tables, figures, examples, etc…
  • support for glossaries, abbreviation and symbol lists
  • management of bibliographies and citations
  • numbered examples and interlinear glosses
  • phonological rules, auto segmental representation and OT tableaux typesetting
  • syntactic trees and semantic maps

So, let’s begin. To navigate through the tutorial, click on the circle with the right arrow at the bottom of each page: it will lead you to the next section. You can also use the menu on the top bar of this website.