While combing through English journal articles and semi-scientific articles, I noticed how problematic it is that in some cases those papers use a romanized, Latin script display of originally Non-Latin script words and expressions. The issue: In my case (Korean), there were several revisions of the romanization system and some of the texts I work with are either (a) older or (b) the authors simply don't comply to the correct romanization standards. Thus it is very hard (at least for me) to derive the original non-latin script (which is my goal) from an incorrect romanization.

Additionally, in many cases it is beneficial or even crucial to have access to not only the Hangeul, but also the Hanja, i.e. Chinese characters. At least that is my opinion.

Because I assert that only if I mention the Non-Latin script (in this case Hangeul/Hanja) "as is", can my academic work be precise, exact and unambiguous.

What do you think about that? Are there any standard rules for such a situation, that are widely used (i.e. expected from students and academics), e.g. in the USA?

Finally: Would there be cases in which you would not use the romanized, Latin Script text version at all? (Assuming that we only talk about a few (5-10) words per page.)

Note: The academic results I produce won't be published in any (international) journal anytime soon, but I still would like to follow the highest standard possible, without sacrificing common sense and preciseness.

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    Just noticed that sadly sometimes outdated romanization standards are even expected / required! cf.: "The SJEAS uses the following systems of Romanization. Korean: the McCune-Reischauer system" Source: sjeas.skku.edu/submissions/howto.jsp Oct 12, 2012 at 5:58
  • Sample article from SKKU (includes Hanja, but no Hangeul): sjeas.skku.edu/submissions/sample.pdf – Oct 12, 2012 at 6:29
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    For citations, I remember the recommendation of the librarian at university was to list the names (the author and the work) in the original language followed by either the transliteration or in some cases a commonly accepted translation of the title. I don't recall any guidance for inline text (which judging by the second to last paragraph is what your question is about). Oct 15, 2012 at 10:13
  • That is an interesting point, at which university was that? As you can see from article above (or I can link one), even Koreans don't use Hangeul in their scientific articles, so that's why I am highly confused. (Ok one of my most recent reference points was the worst paper I ever read anyways...) By the way, Willie you should have written this as a reply, it sure would'v gotten some upvotes. :) Oct 19, 2012 at 16:44

3 Answers 3


For things that you won't publish, you can adhere to a standard you choose, for example writing in the Korean script using LaTeX.

It's difficult to talk more specifically than that because journals have their own requirements, which can have more to do with their typesetting systems than academic rigor.

If a journal publishes your work with ambiguous transliteration, you may be able to keep an alternate copy on ArXiV. (N.B. I'm not sure it's kosher to do this but I suspect it's fine as long as the alternate version is designated carefully.)

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    Not all journals have a copyright policy compatible with arxiv publishing!
    – F'x
    Oct 14, 2012 at 18:55
  • mac389, I didn't know I could set Korean script with LATeX, thanks for the hint! I'll look into it! Oct 19, 2012 at 16:40
  • mac389, this sounds silly maybe, but my initial problem was not so much my own publication, but the ones I found. Actually my "semi"-academic sources, which are IMHO extremely credible nonetheless - such as publications of museums and their experts - are lacking such a stringent standard of "dual-rendering". So actually I think it is a question of (academic) rigor, as the same "journal" also publishes the original Hanja! I basically want to make it better than they did and with this question also animate others to do so, if they should publish somewhere where they have this formatting freedom. Oct 19, 2012 at 17:01
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    FIY, found this TeX.SE question via Google: How do I get Korean Hangeul to typeset in LATeX? Oct 19, 2012 at 17:06

The so-called standard rules are publisher-dependent. Sorry about that. Still, we can cite the rule of one of the Alpha-1 godfathers of computer science:

I want henceforth to give authentic spellings of people's names in their ``mother tongue,'' as well as the latinized form that is conventionally used in Western books and journals [...]

(D. Knuth, http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/help.html#exotic) Knuth also maintains a list of Asian names there.


I think it's not as hard as it used to be to publish non-Latin characters in journals, especially with the advent of electronic publishing, which reduces the need for "physical" stock required to produce those characters.

In fact, I am now starting to see in some journals that people whose names are normally rendered in non-Latin alphabets (such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean), now have both the Romanization as well as the "original" versions in the authors' credits.

That said, there is the question of why you want to use those non-Latin alphabets. For something that is already in "common" use and is widely accepted in the language in which you are writing, the use of the original will be unnecessary. It's also optional to cite the name of an author whose work you're citing, if it was published using a Romanization. (Otherwise, it will make it very difficult to find the citation using search engines.) If, however, you are citing something original, and the use of the Romanization will cause confusion, then use of the original language text is fully appropriate.

As mac389 indicates, you should probably talk to the individual journal you're interested in submitting to. They will likely have guidelines for what is or is not permitted, as you've alluded to in your original question.

  • aeismail, yes I agree, I don't worry about it being "hard", but about what the expectation of publishers and academic (citation) style standard setters is! There are at least a few fonts available, the question is if Korean and esp. foreign academic think about this question though... " If, however, you are citing something original, and the use of the romanization will cause confusion..." - Yes I think that nails it. Yet I say so, not knowing a natives mind. I am confused by romanized Hangeul, while a Korean might not be confused at all. Oct 19, 2012 at 16:49
  • Further, romanized Hanja/Chinese is even worse, in terms of its length etc. Of course we are not talking about the title of a paper and it's author, but about "specialist", expert and historic terms. And about the references, do you really think that all sources an Asian scholar might cite will be findable through a (improperly!) romanized title? Depending on the work in question not every cited source will be a "fully cite-able", academic journal contribution. But just a piece of evidence that will be physically inaccessible, and even digitally tough to access without using the proper script. Oct 19, 2012 at 16:56
  • "It's also unnecessary to cite the name of an author whose work you're citing, if it was published using a Romanization." - I somewhat disagree with this. The romanization might be sufficient, but providing the original way of writing the author's name would be a reasonable way to further enhance the ease of unambiguously identifying the person, by distinguishing them from others with the same romanization, but a different original writing. That, and the feeling that when creating academic writing, one should always try to adhere to the highest accuracy standards one's skillset allows for. Apr 1, 2015 at 11:51

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