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Babel support for the Greek language and script


1.13.2 (changelog)


© 1997 Apostolos Syropoulos, Claudio Beccari, Johannes Brahms, © 2013 -- 2023 Günter Milde.


This work may be distributed and/or modified under the conditions of the LaTeX Project Public License, either version 1.3 of this license or any later version.


Latest Release


babel-greek is a contributed package providing comprehensive support for the Greek language and script via the Babel system. Document authors can select between the monotonic (single-diacritic), polytonic (multiple-diacritic), and ancient orthography of the Greek language.



Source of the language definition file greek.ldf for use with Babel. [babel-greek.pdf]


Athenian (Attic, Herodianic, or acrophonic) Numerals. [athnum.pdf]


Greek log-like Operators. [grmath.pdf]


DocStrip batch file.


Description of the LGR Latin transliteration and the Greek numerals. [usage.pdf]


Documented test samples. [test-greek.pdf, test-greeknum.pdf, test-athnum.pdf]


The babel-greek package requires the Babel package and font definition files from the greek-fontenc package. The greek-inputenc package is recommended when using 8-bit TeX engines.

Typesetting Greek texts requires Greek text fonts.

Plain TeX is currently not supported. Patches are welcome.

Download and Installation

The simplest way is to get and install this package from your distribution using its installation manager.


  • Download the latest release from the package's CTAN page or a snapshot of the greek-tex repository.

  • Unpack the source archive to a temporary location.

  • From the babel-greek directory, run tex or latex on the batch file babel-greek.ins.

    This will generate the files greek.ldf, athnum.sty, and grmath.sty in the current directory.

  • Move all files ending in .ldf or .sty into a directory in the TeX search path.

  • To produce the documentation, run the file usage.tex and all files ending in .dtx through LaTeX.

The last steps can be automated using the Unix make tool. The repository sources include a Makefile defining the targets


(re)build packages, documentation, and tests,


(re)build the packages,


(re)generate HTML and PDF documentation files,


run LaTeX on the test documents,


copy packages into a local TeX tree,1


copy documentation and sources into a local TeX tree,2


delete auxiliary files.


To load Greek language support with Babel, use the greek document option or pass the greek option to Babel. For example,


activates support for Greek text parts in an English document.3

For ancient Greek, set the language attribute "ancient", either after loading Babel


or as modifier


Similarly, the attribute "polutoniko" selects the modern polytonic Greek language variant,


The Babel core provides two commands to select the active language:

  • The declaration \selectlanguage{greek} switches to the Greek language,
  • the function \foreignlanguage{greek}{<some text>} sets its second argument in Greek.

Both ensure support for the Greek script and select Greek case-changing and hyphenation rules. For details see the Babel documentation and babel-greek.pdf.

Input of Greek characters is possible

For details and caveats, see test-greek.pdf and the example files provided with greek-fontenc.

Greek text fonts

A list of Greek text fonts for use with LaTeX is available at CTAN.

The non-standard LGR font encoding is used for typesetting Greek with "traditional" 8-bit TeX engines (pdfTeX). Fonts in this encoding include the CB fonts (matching CM), grtimes (Greek Times), Kerkis (matching URW Bookman), and the GFS font collection. The package cbfonts-fd registers the CB fonts as Greek substitute for the Computer Modern and Latin Modern font families. For other font families, declaring Greek fonts as supplement for matching Latin font families can be done with the \DeclareFontFamilySubstitution macro (see section Providing font family substitutions in [fntguide]).

Unicode fonts used with XeTeX or LuaTeX provide slots for all Unicode characters in one font but commonly only a subset of the actual glyphs.


The default Latin Modern Unicode font contains only a few Greek letters! Unsupported characters are silently dropped from the output. Warnings about missing glyphs are written to the log file but not to the console.

Select a suitable font with Babel's font selecting framework or fontspec. Examples for suitable fonts are CM-unicode or Linux Libertine as well as any system-wide installed OTF font that supports Greek (e.g. Deja Vu). See, e.g., the list of free fonts supporting Greek script by openSUSE's fontinfo.

LGR Latin Transliteration

The LGR font encoding allows input of Greek characters via a Latin transliteration. This enables simple input with a Latin keyboard. Characters with diacritics may be selected with accent macros (cf. greek-fontenc) or via the ligature definitions in the font (see usage.pdf).

The following ASCII characters are converted to Greek symbols:

A B G D E Z H J I K L M N X O P R S   T U F Q Y W
Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ   Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω
a b g d e z h j i k l m n x o p r s c t u f q y w
α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ ς τ υ φ χ ψ ω

Accent symbols and punctuation:

tonos/oxia 'a ά right apostrophe ''
varia `a left apostrophe ``
dasia <a left quotation mark (( «
psili >a right quotation mark )) »
perispomeni \~a erotimatiko ? ;
dialytika "i ϊ ano teleia6 ; ·
ypogegrammeni a| zero width non-joiner av| αͺ

The downside is, that you cannot print Latin letters and some symbols if LGR is the active font encoding. This means that for every Latin-written word or acronym in a Greek text part, an explicit font encoding switch is required.

Greek Numerals

babel-greek provides the macros \greeknumeral and \Greeknumeral to transform a number into its corresponding Greek numeral (see also section Greek numbering in the PDF documentation).

The classic Greek numerals, also known as Ionic, Ionian, Milesian, or Alexandrian numerals were introduced to Athens along with the Ionic alphabet from the city of Miletus in Ionia replacing the Attic numerals. They are still used in everyday life for ordinal numbers and more generally by the Orthodox church and certain scholars.

Greek numerals use several now obsolete letters: digamma ϝ or stigma ϛ, koppa ϟ or ϙ, and sampi ϡ [Nicholas-05].

  • Standing for 6 is the digamma ϝ, the sixth letter of the Ionic alphabet (just as its Latin equivalent F is the sixth letter of the Latin alphabet). As Greek script turned to uncial and then lowercase, the numeral changed its shape and became conflated with another, similar sign: the ligature for sigma-tau stigma ϛ. The letters στ are frequently used as replacement.

    There is no significant tradition of ϝ being used as a numeral in editions of classical texts, even though the Ancients clearly used digamma rather than stigma as their numeral.

  • Three different signs are in use for the number 90: Classicists use the "archaic koppa" ϙ, and more rarely its uncial form (resembling the "Cyrillic letter koppa" ҁ or the "Gothic letter ninety" 𐍁). Modern Greeks use the "Greek letter koppa" ϟ exclusively and do not recognise ϙ at all, let alone as a glyph variant of ϟ.

  • The sign for the number 900 is the sampi ϡ. Its shape, developed during its use in minuscule handwriting of the Byzantine era. Earlier variants similar to the "archaic sampi" ͳ and the "Gothic Letter Nine Hundred" 𐍊 are not used in Greek.

Users can redefine the macros \greeknumeralsix, \greeknumeralSix, \greeknumeralninety, and \greeknumeralNinety to configure the used symbols, for example

\ifdefined \textvarstigma

sets the symbol for 90 to the "modern" koppa ϟ also for ancient Greek and the "capital" 6 symbol to the variant stigma glyph (only defined in LGR).


1.4 (2013-05-17)
  • New maintainer.
  • The encoding definition file lgrenc.def moved to the greek-fontenc package.
1.5 (2013-06-21)
  • Bugfixes and cleanup.
  • LICR macros in string definitions.
  • LGR font encoding not used with XeTeX/LuaTeX.
  • Input "xgreek-fixes.def" from polyglossia with Xe/LuaTeX.
1.5a (2013-07-02)
1.6 (2013-07-19)
  • Experimental support for XeTeX/LuaTeX.
1.7 (2013-09-09)
  • CB-Fonts font definition files moved to CB-Fonts package.
  • Do not auto-load euenc.def with XeTeX/LuaTeX.
1.7a (2013-09-13)
1.7b (2013-10-01)
  • Fix upcasing of babel strings with Xe/LuaTeX.
1.8 (2013-12-02)
  • Rename greek.dtx to babel-greek so that texdoc shows the right documentation.
  • Compatibility with Xe/LuaTeX in Unicode and 8-bit mode.
1.8a (2013-12-03)
  • Set \encodingdefault in \greekscript to fix Greek in footnotes etc. with document language Greek.
1.9 (2014-07-20)
  • New attribute for ancient Greek, load correct hyphenation patterns (patch by Claudio Beccari).
  • Bugfix for \Makeuppercase
1.9a (2014-09-12)
  • Remove duplicate code, documentation review.
1.9b (2014-09-18)
  • Remove spurious whitespace from \extrasgreek definition.
  • Use named macros instead of non-standard short macros for psili and dasia in the string definitions.
1.9c (2014-10-21)
  • Fix dummy hyphenation language names (patch by Ulrike Fischer).
1.9d (2015-09-04)
  • Remove grsymb (macros for Greek symbols). This package is outdated and obsoleted by greek-fontenc (reported by Claudio Beccari).
  • Unicode uc/lc corrections now in greek-fontenc.
1.9e (2015-11-27)
  • Fix bug in lccode-setting loop (patch by Enrico Gregorio).
1.9f (2016-02-04)
  • Support for new standard Unicode text font encoding "TU".
1.9g (2016-09-07)
  • Babel 3.9i deprecated \textlatin and fixed \latinencoding. 1.9h (2019-07-11)
  • Move breathing composite commands to textalpha.
1.9i (2020-02-28)
  • Update test for Unicode fonts.
  • Fix accent in \seename and \alsoname.
1.9j (2020-03-17)
  • Fix ampersand in math mode.
1.10 (2020-11-10)
  • Use TU as \greekfontencoding for Xe/LuaTeX (set by LaTeX as default font encoding for Unicode engines since 2017/01/01).
  • Use zig-zaggy \textkoppa for \greeknumeral{90}.
  • PDF-string secure implementation of \greeknumeral from hyperref.
  • Load puenc-greek.def (from greek-fontenc) if used with hyperref (polytonic Greek in PDF-strings).
1.11 (2020-11-20)
  • Configurable Greek numerals 6 and 90.
  • Save/restore previous font encoding instead of switching to hard-coded \latinencoding when leaving Greek.
1.12 (2023-03-04)
  • Do not change the uccode values if the LaTeX version is newer than 2022/06. The new \MakeUppercase definition ignores them and fails with the "dummy" character 0x9f (cf. [ltnews35], LaTeX issue 987).
  • New modifiers local-LGR-fixes and no-LGR-fixes to address indexing problmes with Roman numerals (Babel issue 170). Provisional.
  • New TextCommand \EnsureStandardFontEncoding.
  • Rename \textgreek to \lgrfont to avoid confusion with a language changing command.
  • Documentation update and refactoring.
  • Drop LGR-local re-definition of \SS.
  • athnum.dtx 2.0: Don't require Babel. Use LICR macros instead of the Latin transliteration.
1.13 (2023-03-15)
  • New language attribute "keep-semicolon".
  • Rename \greek@tilde to \bbl@greek@tilde, simplify definition.
  • Fix links, update documentation.
1.13.1 (2023-03-17)
  • Don't use text command in math mode with "keep-semicolon".
  • athnum.dtx 2.0.1: Fix behaviour in math mode.
1.13.2 (unpublished)
  • Warn of unsupported (or misspelled) "modifiers" (code contributed by Javier Bezos).



Yannis Haralambous From Unicode to Typography, a Case Study: the Greek Script, 1998.


Nick Nicholas Numerals: Stigma, Koppa, Sampi, 2005.


Irene Vlachou Polytonic Greek: a guide for type designers, 2022.


LaTeX Project Team LaTeX2e font selection, December 2021.


LaTeX Project Team LaTeX News 35, June 2022.

  1. This is a simple cp --update to a pre-set path. The destination directory must exist. Files no longer present in the package are not removed.↩︎

  2. This is a simple cp --update to a pre-set path. The destination directory must exist. Files no longer present in the package are not removed.↩︎

  3. The last language option sets the document's main language.↩︎

  4. with the greek-inputenc package or XeTeX/LuaTeX↩︎

  5. only with 8-bit LGR fonts↩︎

  6. The "_keep-semicolon" language attribute prevents the mapping of a semicolon to a middle dot to allow its use as Greek question mark (erotimatiko).↩︎