[pdftex] Type1-font Helvetica

White, George WhiteG at mar.dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Wed Mar 7 12:35:37 CET 2001

Helvetica is a _huge_ problem.  On a Win32 PC, and in Acrobat 4.05,
asking for Helvetica usually gets Arial.  Ghostscript users often get 
URW NimbusSanL. I think Arial URW NimbusSanL have been tweaked
to approximate the Helvetica metrics, but the match is not perfect and
the glyphs are not the same.  Furthermore, Helvetica Oblique is a synthetic
font, so the vert. bar symbol (|) is slanted, while Arial has a true
italic with unslanted (|) and URW NimbusSanL-ReguItal looks similar to
Helvetica-Oblique.  Dizzy yet?

If you create a drawing on a Win32 PC using "Helvetica-Oblique", you may be
seeing Arial, so you might have something like "a|b" in an expression.

If you view this with gs, you might be using URW NimbusSanL-ReguItal, so the
"|" could be confused with "/".  If you make PDF the "|" might be vertical,
when you print to a printer with real Helvetica-Oblique, it looks more like

This has all been discussed on this list before, and there is no simple
Moreover, the available workarounds are fraught with problems of
If you really need to keep your files small, you will want to make sure that
only use glyphs that don't look too different between Arial, URW NimbusSanL,
Helvetica, and you have to accept some differences in appearance across
viewers, and printers.  If you aren't willing to accept such differences,
you need
to embed fonts.  Since pdftex avoids embedding the base fonts, for most
people this
means embedding the URW fonts.  There is some dispute over the intellectual
of using "clone" fonts.  I think the URW fonts are good honest original
designs, and
the fact that they have been scaled to match Adobe metrics a bit dicey from
the standpoint of intellectual property.  Others think even this is theft
and don't like to use URW fonts. 
Unless/until pdftex and/or ghostscript supports embedding base fonts, you
need Adobe Acrobat.  I would prefer that TeX distributions include and use
the URW fonts, but this is really a personal tradeoff between misgivings
over the theft of Adobe's metrics and being more 
honest about what fonts are actually used.  The present system
encourages average users to think they are doing "the right thing" (e.g.,
using Adobe
fonts) when they are really using other, cloned, fonts.  It also makes it
harder to
understand the issues that prompted the original posting.  

My understanding is that Adobe changed to different fonts in Acrobat Reader
4 because
they felt the cost of licensing the original base fonts would be too great.
Adobe "owns" the metrics of the base fonts, I have no problem with them
other fonts and scaling them to the same metrics.  If Adobe feels it is
to use Arial when you request Helvetica, does that make it OK for (pdf)TeX
to specify
fonts that only a small fraction of users will actually be using?  
If you head isn't spinning by now you don't "get it"!
-----Original Message-----
From: Aiko Huckauf
To: pdftex at tug.org
Sent: 3/6/01 10:50 PM
Subject: [pdftex] Type1-font Helvetica


I try to produce a document (pure text, no formulas) using Helvetica
as font for the text itself, the pagenumbers and the headings.
I tried it in two different ways:

1. I run LaTeX on my document, convert dvi into ps (using dvips) and
   ps into pdf (using Ghostscript).
2. I run pdfTeX on my document and get the pdf file directly.

Now the point is: When I open the two pdf documents with Adobe Acrobat
Reader, I get the same font information, "Helvetica", as expected.
What I don't understand: Obviously the fonts in the two pdf-files are
_not_ identical (the difference can best be seen at the capital "G").

I have the font definition files hv.pfb/pfm etc. for Helvetica, but
how do I tell pdfTeX to use _this_ font instead of some

Aiko Huckauf

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