Tag Archives: Hebrew

KOMA-Script: Specifying Binding Correction for RTL Documents

The KOMA-Script bundle provides an option to specify the amount of binding correction needed in order to compensate for the width lost in the binding process. By default, it is added to the left margin, which is where the binding is applied for Left to Right languages. However, if a document is written in Hebrew or Arabic, one binds it on the right. The KOMA-Script manual does not consider that option. After a bit of playing I’ve found out that simply using a negative value for the binding correction works.

For example, if in an English document you would use


For Hebrew you would set


en_IL: English locale for Israel

Update: The new locale was committed to glibc and should be part of glibc-2.24.

Most Israelis are literate in English, and for a large percentage of them, English is also the preferred language when it comes to computers. They prefer English, as it solves right-to-left issues and general inconsistencies (it might be annoying when some programs are translated ands some not). The downside is, that currently, the existing English locales are not suitable for Israel, as there are cultural differences:

  • American English spelling is more common in Israel.
  • The metric system is used, along with the relevant paper sizes (“A4” instead of Letter).
  • Dates are written in dd/mm/YYYY format, unlike in the USA.
  • The first day of week, and also the first workday is Sunday.
  • The currency used is ILS (₪).

So, up until now users had to choose locales such as en_US or en_GB and compromise on some stuff. To solve this issue, and create a truly suitable English locale for Israel, I wrote a localedef file for the en_IL locale.

To install the new locale, copy the en_IL file from the gist below and place under /usr/share/i18n/locales/en_IL (no extension). Next

# echo "en_IL.UTF-8 UTF-8" >> /usr/local/share/i18n/SUPPORTED

Now, complete the installation by running dpkg-reconfigure locales and enable en_IL.UTF-8 from the list, and set it as the default locale.

Creating a Hebrew Document in LyX 2.1 with XeTeX

This post complements the basic LaTeX template I gave yesterday for typesetting Hebrew with XeTeX. I’ll walk through the (short) list of steps needed to configure LyX with XeTeX.


  • LyX 2.1 or later (I’ve also tested with the development version of 2.2). I had very limited success with LyX 2.0, so you should probably avoid it.
  • XeTeX – I’ve tested with version 3.1415926-2.4-0.9998 which comes with TeXLive 2012, but I guess any recent version will do.
  • The polyglossia and bidi packages. Again I’ve used those which come with TeXLive 2012.
  • Good TrueType Hebrew fonts. I recommend Culmus 0.121 or newer. You may also try and use the fonts that come with your operating system, they might work as well.

Setting up the document

Create a new document and open the settings dialog (Document -> Settings...).

  1. Pick a suitable Document class. I recommend “KOMA-Script Article” but “Article” works just as fine. Avoid “Hebrew Article”, as it is broken under XeTeX.
  2. Under Fonts check the box next to `Use non-TeX fonts (via XeTeX/LuaTeX) and select suitable fonts:
    • Roman: Frank Ruehl CLM. David CLM is also a good choice with somewhat better italics variant.
    • Sans Serif: Simple CLM.
    • Typewriter: Miriam Mono CLM.
    • There is no need to change the Math font.
  3. Under Language select Hebrew as the document’s language.

That’s basically it. You can now write your document and compile it. I would suggest saving these settings as default (via “Save as Document Defaults”) or saving it as a template so you won’t need to repeat those steps.

Writing in English

To insert English text in your Hebrew document, you need to change the current language. The easiest way to do so is to create a keyboard shortcut for it:

  1. Go to Tools -> Preferences -> Editing -> Shortcuts
  2. Write “language” under “Show key-bindings containing:”.
  3. Select “language” under “Cursor, Mouse and Editing Functions” and click “Modify” to set a keyboard shortcut (F12 is traditionally used for this).

Now you can toggle the current language between English and Hebrew by simply pressing F12.

Remark about Fonts

It is preferable to use fonts that provide both Hebrew and Latin scripts, as otherwise there might be significant style differences which make the document look weird. It is possible to set a different font for Hebrew and Latin, but care needs to be taken to match styles. To do so, add the following lines to the Preamble:

\newfontfamily\hebrewfont[Script=Hebrew]{David CLM}
\newfontfamily\hebrewfonttt[Script=Hebrew]{Miriam Mono CLM}
\newfontfamily\hebrewfontsf[Script=Hebrew]{Simple CLM}

RTL Tiddlers in TiddlyWiki 5

Few years ago I wrote about how to create RTL (right-to-left) tiddlers in TiddlyWiki. Creating RTL tiddlers is almost a necessity if you want to create tiddlers in a right-to-left language such as Hebrew or Arabic. TiddlyWiki5, the new version of TiddlyWiki, broke the old solution, but a similar one is can be made. In order to be able to add RTL tiddlers to your TiddlyWiki follow these steps:
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Comparison of Hebrew Fonts on Kindle Paperwhite

I’ve decided to compare the looks of four, freely available Hebrew fonts, on the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.

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Hebrew Support in Hyperref – Situation Review

It’s been a bit more than three years since I’ve written about a workaround for getting hyperref to play (almost) nicely with Hebrew. Over the past few weeks, I saw I rising interest in this and few people contacted me regarding this issue. So I thought it’s a good opportunity to better document the current situation, and possible ways that should be further investigated which I believe might lead to better solutions.
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Emulating Kav-Mafrid (em-dash) for the David Font

The David font that is used in Culmus-LaTeX lacks support of Kav-Mafrid, the ligature that is created by two consecutive dashes, --. Because the regular Hebrew dash, Maqaf, is position near the top of the line, one can’t use it instead of the Kav-Mafrid and expect a graphically pleasant result (while Kav-Mafrid can replace Maqaf and the text would still look ok). To make things even more problematic, this ligature is supported by Culmus-LaTeX’s default font, Frank Ruehl, which means one can’t easily switch fonts without hurting the layout.
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Getting Hyperref to Work with Hebrew (in XeTeX)

The hyperref package is notoriously known to cause problem with RTL text, which unfortunately include Hebrew. In this post I present some preliminary workarounds that enable the user to use the hyperref package with Hebrew and possibly other RTL languages. The solution requires XeTeX which is available in TeXLive. I had no success, yet, to port the workaround to pdfTeX, which is more popular.
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