One of the great features of Emacs is its ability to handle bidirectional support for the right-to-left languages (like Hebrew, Arabic and Persian). Note that even in these languages mathematical formulae are written from left-to-right. So when typing a mathematical formula (usually between $ $) in a right-to-left line, it would be desirable to temporary force the direction left-to-right. For example in the following line I have written $V^*$ but Emacs shows it in reverse.

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I know the setting (setq bidi-paragraph-direction 'left-to-right) can be used to change to the correct direction. Also the variable texmathp can be used to determine if the cursor is in a math environment (see how to detect if inside a LaTeX math environment? and https://emacs.stackexchange.com/a/548/2609).

But I don't know to put these altogether. So my question is

How to force the direction from right-to-left in a math environment?


1 Answer 1


The variable bidi-paragraph-direction is not the answer to your problem, since it affects the whole buffer. Instead if you want to change the directionality of a particular piece of text, you'll need to insert special control characters.

E.g. you could insert an LRM (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-to-right_mark) character just before the opening $ and another just after the closing $.

I don't know what TeX will do with such characters, tho. AFAIK there is currently no way in Emacs to insert such characters only for the display via something like a display property or an after-string overlay (i.e. not as part of the buffer's content). You might like to M-x report-emacs-bug requesting a new feature for that.

  • Thank you for your answer. I think Emacs can insert LR mark using quail package for example by setting ("‎" ?\u200E) when using a particular input-method. Perhaps I make a mistake.
    – Name
    Dec 28, 2014 at 16:52

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