[texhax] Defining a new font in Plain Tex

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Wed Jan 13 00:58:27 CET 2010

On 12 January 2010 Philip TAYLOR wrote:

 > > kpathsea: Running mktexmf Optima.mf
 > >
 > > The command name is H:\TeX\Live\2009\bin\win32\mktexmf
 > > name = Optima, rootname = Optima, pointsize =
 > > mktexmf: empty or non-existent rootfile!
 > > Cannot find Optima.mf.
 > Fortunately my second attempt was more successful :
 >      \font \defaultfont = "Palatino Linotype" at 20pt
 > and I am now motivated to continue.  The obvious difference
 > between Optima and Palatino Linotype is that the former
 > is in Type-1 format whilst the latter is in Truetype; are
 > there problems (surmountable or otherwise) associated with
 > the use of Type-1 fonts with XeTeX ?

Hi Phil,
as far as I understand, your assumption is correct.

Type1 fonts (pfa/pfb files) don't contain any metrics.  Metrics are
in separate files (afm files on Unix, pfm files on Windows).  This was
obviously inspired by TeX.

TrueType fonts contain both, the glyphs descriptions and the metrics.
pdfTeX supports TrueType, but you still need TFM files.  The reason is
that pdfTeX still has an 8-bit font engine.

XeTeX supports OpenType fonts.  OpenType can be regarded as a
container which can either contain Type1 outlines (qubic Bezier
curves) or TrueType outlines (quadratic Bezier curves), the font
metrics, as well as additional information.  The OpenType file format
is based on TrueType, hence I suppose that XeTeX can treat TTF as a
simple form of OTF.

I don't know whether FontForge can create OTF from PFB and AFM files
automatically, This would be a simple solution if you want to use
Type1 fonts in XeTeX.  

Alternatively you can download and install the (La)TeX support files
created by Walter Schmidt:


Then you can use Optima with pdfTeX or Knuth's Tex as well.

If you are satified with Classico, the URW variant of Optima,
all you have to do is to run:

    getnonfreefonts-sys classico

Just for completeness (Phil is aware of it, he tested it thoroughly):
The getnonfreefonts installer can be downloaded from:


Since we are on the texhax mailing list, I better mention that
getnonfreefonts was designed for TeX Live and will not work under
MikTeX (not deliberately, the systems just differ too much).  Any
attempt to install getnonfreefonts under MikTeX is worthless.


Reinhard Kotucha			              Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover	                      mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Microsoft isn't the answer. Microsoft is the question, and the answer is NO.

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