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11.7.1 Special symbols

You can use LaTeX macros to insert special symbols like ‘\alpha’ to indicate the Greek letter, or ‘\to’ to indicate an arrow. Completion for these macros is available, just type ‘\’ and maybe a few letters, and press M-<TAB> to see possible completions. Unlike LaTeX code, Org mode allows these macros to be present without surrounding math delimiters, for example:

     Angles are written as Greek letters \alpha, \beta and \gamma.

During export, these symbols will be transformed into the native format of the exporter backend. Strings like \alpha will be exported as &alpha; in the HTML output, and as $\alpha$ in the LaTeX output. Similarly, \nbsp will become &nbsp; in HTML and ~ in LaTeX. If you need such a symbol inside a word, terminate it like this: ‘\Aacute{}stor’.

A large number of entities is provided, with names taken from both HTML and LaTeX; see the variable org-entities for the complete list. ‘\-’ is treated as a shy hyphen, and ‘--’, ‘---’, and ‘...’ are all converted into special commands creating hyphens of different lengths or a compact set of dots.

If you would like to see entities displayed as UTF8 characters, use the following command1:

C-c C-x \
Toggle display of entities as UTF-8 characters. This does not change the buffer content which remains plain ASCII, but it overlays the UTF-8 character for display purposes only.


[1] You can turn this on by default by setting the variable org-pretty-entities, or on a per-file base with the #+STARTUP option entitiespretty.