Frequently Asked Question List for TeX


Choice of Type 1 fonts for typesetting Maths

If you are interested in text alone, you can in principle use any of the huge numbers of text fonts in Adobe Type 1, TrueType or OpenType formats. The constraint is, of course, that your previewer and printer driver should support such fonts (TeX itself only cares about metrics, not the actual character programs).

If you also need mathematics, then your choice is more limited, in particular by the demands that TeX makes of maths fonts (for details, see the papers by B.K.P. Horn in TUGboat 14(3), or by Thierry Bouche in TUGboat 19(2)). There are several options available, which are based on Knuth’s original designs. Others complement other commercial and free text font designs; one set (MicroPress’s “informal math”) stands alone.

Users should also consider the possibilities of typesetting maths using OpenType fonts.

“Free” font families that will support TeX mathematics include:

The excellent font catalogue keeps an up-to-date list which describes the fonts by giving names and short examples, only. (At the time of writing — June 2008 — the list has several that are only scheduled for inclusion here.

Another useful document is Stephen Hartke’s “Free maths font survey”, which is available on CTAN in both PDF and HTML formats. The survey covers most of the fonts mentioned in the font catalogue, but also mentions some (such as Belleek that the catalogue omits.

Fonts capable of setting TeX mathematics, that are available commercially, include:

Two other font sets should be mentioned, even though they don’t currently produce satisfactory output — their author is no longer working on them, and several problems have been identified:

Finally, one must not forget:

We observe a very limited selection of commercial maths font sets; a Type 1 maths font has to be explicitly designed for use with TeX, which is an expensive business, and is of little appeal in other markets. Furthermore, the TeX market for commercial fonts is minute by comparison with the huge sales of other font sets.

Text fonts in Type 1 format are available from many vendors including Adobe, Monotype and Bitstream. However, be careful with cheap font “collections”; many of them dodge copyright restrictions by removing (or crippling) parts of the font programs such as hinting. Such behaviour is both unethical and bad for the consumer. The fonts may not render well (or at all, under ATM), may not have the “standard” complement of 228 glyphs, or may not include metric files (which you need to make TFM files).

TrueType was for a long time the “native” format for Windows, but MicroSoft joined the development of the OpenType specification, and “modern” windows will work happily with fonts in either format. Some TeX implementations such as TrueTeX use TrueType versions of Computer Modern and Times Maths fonts to render TeX documents in Windows without the need for additional system software like ATM. (When used on a system running Windows XP or later, TrueTeX can also use Adobe Type 1 fonts.)

When choosing fonts, your own system environment may not be the only one of interest. If you will be sending your finished documents to others for further use, you should consider whether a given font format will introduce compatibility problems. Publishers may require TrueType exclusively because their systems are Windows-based, or Type 1 exclusively, because their systems are based on the early popularity of that format in the publishing industry. Many service bureaus don’t care as long as you present them with a finished print file (PostScript or PDF) for their output device.

FAQ ID: Q-psfchoice