Fonts Help

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at
Fri Aug 7 23:54:31 CEST 2020

On 2020-08-07 at 09:30:01 +0000, Tianyi Chen wrote:

 > Hi! this is Tianyi, and I am really sorry to bother you, but I
 > really need some help.
 > Recently, I was trying to learn TeX and reading "The TeXbookÓ. I am
 > confused reading chapter4 "Fonts of TypeÓ, the author did a really
 > good job teaching switching one font from another, but when I was
 > trying to explore more fonts, there are two problems cannot be
 > solved by myself.

Hi Tianyi,
first of all, you are not bothering us.  This mailing list is the
correct place for such questions.

Regarding fonts, there are many things The TeXbook doesn't explain,
simply because all other font formats than those invented by Knuth
were specified later.

TeX doesn't use any fonts at all.  It only needs the font metrics (the
tfm files) for typesetting.  It just put links to fonts into the DVI
file so that printer drivers can include them.

Phil Taylor suggested XeTeX.  The first thing you should know is that
XeTeX works exactly as described in The TeXbook.  This holds true for
any other TeX engine as well.  But because XeTeX produces PDF instead
of DVI it has to include the fonts by itself.  You can still load
fonts as described in The TeXbook but if you want to use modern font
formats such as OpenType it's advisable to look into the XeTeX manual
as well.

Another difference between TeX and XeTeX is that XeTeX supports
Unicode and thus a font and the document you type (your .tex input
file) can have more than 256 different characters.

The xetex manual describes the differences to what you learn in
Chapter 8 (The Characters You Type).  There are differences (or
better: extentions) if you specify characters by their numeric values

In short:  continue to read The TeXbook but consult the XeTeX manual
as well.

If you still have any questions don't hesitate to ask here.

BTW, support at directed you to the texhax mailing list

If you subscribe to this list you probably get more mails than you
want ;)

There is also a list for questions about XeTeX

But for general questions about TeX (as described in The TeXbook)
texhax (or support at is the most appropriate place.


Reinhard Kotucha                            Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                    mailto:reinhard.kotucha at

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