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Document 465

The LaTeX babel package

Version: 3.x, 4.x, 5.x - Scientific WorkPlace & Scientific Word

The babel package addresses language-specific issues so that TeX works more reliably to typeset documents written in languages other than English. When the appropriate language hyphenation patterns are included in the format file, the package switches the active hyphenation patterns as the base language is switched. The multilingual format file created with a standard SWP or SW installation includes these hyphenation patterns:

  • English
  • American English
  • French
  • German
  • German new orthography

If you need a different pattern, you must use a different format file. The program CDs for Version 3.5 and Version 4.1 and later include format files for Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese in the Extras/TrueTeXFormatFiles directory. If these don't include the hyphenation pattern you need, you must create a format file that does. You can find instructions in the online Help.

The babel package also corrects problems with embedded English strings in LaTeX, such as Chapter or Bibliography. When babel is running with a specific language, it uses strings appropriate for that language in place of the embedded English strings. You can also use the babel package to translate automatic division headings in Style Editor styles. The babel package is not compatible with the Lambda system.

Theorem objects must be treated separately. Typically, words that are typeset in the lead-in objects of theorem statements are set in the \newtheorem statements in the document preamble. To change the words, modify the statements in the document preamble. With the babel package, LaTeX can successfully typeset multiple languages in the same document. The language options are available through the Options and Packages command on the Typeset menu.

Once you have added the package to a document, you can switch languages within your document. When you typeset the document, LaTeX uses the appropriate language to typeset embedded strings and hyphenate text.

How to typeset documents using multiple languages

  1. Add the babel package to your document.
  2. Ensure that the appropriate language hyphenation patterns are included in the format file in use.
  3. Modify the package options to select the language or languages you want.
    LaTeX uses the last language you specify as the default language for embedded strings and hyphenation. See more information about viewing package options.
  4. If you want to switch to a different language at some point in your document,
    1. Place the insertion point where you want to begin the language.
    2. Enter an encapsulated TeX field.
    3. In the entry area, type \selectlanguage{language}
      where language is the language you want to use at this point in the document. Be sure you have selected the language option.
    4. Choose OK.

When you typeset, LaTeX treats the new language correctly.

No standard exists for transporting files that rely on the availability of a certain language. Each file must be handled on an ad hoc basis. In Version 3.5 and earlier, the package requires the Multilingual LaTeX installation option. The babel package is installed in the TCITeX/TeX/LaTeX/required/babel directory.

Last revised 02/16/06

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