How to support Unicode in Sphinx PDFs

Sphinx offers different LaTeX engines that have better support for Unicode characters, relevant for instance for Japanese or Chinese.

To build your documentation in PDF format, you need to configure Sphinx properly in your project’s Read the Docs will execute the proper commands depending on these settings. There are several settings that can be defined (all the ones starting with latex_), to modify Sphinx and Read the Docs behavior to make your documentation to build properly.

For docs that are not written in Chinese or Japanese, and if your build fails from a Unicode error, then try xelatex as the latex_engine in your

latex_engine = "xelatex"

When Read the Docs detects that your documentation is in Chinese or Japanese, it automatically adds some defaults for you.

For Chinese projects, it appends to your these settings:

latex_engine = "xelatex"
latex_use_xindy = False
latex_elements = {
    "preamble": "\\usepackage[UTF8]{ctex}\n",

And for Japanese projects:

latex_engine = "platex"
latex_use_xindy = False


You can always override these settings if you define them by yourself in your file.


xindy is currently not supported by Read the Docs, but we plan to support it in the near future.