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Ask Nelly is a question and answer column. Nelly is the quiet person who sits at the back corner desk, who knows a lot, and when asked any question is always ready with a patient answer. If Nelly doesn't know the answer, Nelly will know an expert who has the answer. Feel free to Ask Nelly about any aspect of LaTeX, TeX, Context, etc.
A: Those discs make up the TeX Collection. For a general summary, see TeX Collection. Here are some details:
This question was answered by Karl Berry. Karl is the co-editor of TeX Live with Sebastian Rahtz, and wrote some of the core software for Unix-based TeX. He's currently the president of the TeX Users Group. Feel free to email him at email@example.com.
In articles (and a book I am working on) I have many matrices that are three to six or more columns wide, and each entry or element in the matrix is wide. I have to split each element onto two to four lines, and many matrices must additionally be split into two parts. The result is difficult to read. If there were narrower math fonts (like sometimes used for text columns) and smaller spacing between symbols I could reduce some of the stacking that I have to do.
Are there narrower math fonts (I use MathTimeProfessional fonts) and easy ways to adjust symbol spacing?
A: Saying that TeX's typeset mathematical expressions are too wide is a strange way of putting things, but it is an interesting question how one can handle wide matrices.
[See the attached PDF file for details of these methods.]
This question was answered by Michael Spivak who writes: I am a computer innocent who, through a series of historical accidents, ended up writing the amstex macro package, and a font design innocent who, through desperation for fonts that I was willing to use for my Calculus and Differential Geometry books, ended up designing the MathTime Professional fonts. It is a sobering reflection that these activities seem to have occupied a significant amount of my time during the last 20-25 years.
I often find it interesting to answer challenging questions about using TeX for typesetting. However, a severe allergy to LaTeX dictates that my solutions be couched in plain tex, though presumably any well-versed LaTeXophile will be able to supply a translation. If you have suggestions about new symbols, or other special effects, that you would like to see in the MathTime Professional fonts, that would also be interesting.
He can be reached at and www.mathpop.com.
A: Ah, fonts. The mysterious black box of TeX.
As far as TeX the processor is concerned, it only needs to know some size information for each font, which is contained in a TeX Font Metric (TFM) file. For each character or symbol ('glyph') in the font, the TFM file contains: its height, width, and depth (how much it descends below the baseline); kerning information, the non-standard spacing between a glyph and others glyphs in the font -- for example, 'T' followed by 'y' looks better if the 'y' is moved closer to the 'T'; and ligatures, optional characters that are used when two glyphs appear together -- for example, in some fonts 'f' followed by 'l' is replaced by the character 'fl'. The TFM also contains information about the font as a whole -- for example, the nominal interword spacing.
TeX could not care less what the glyphs actually look like. TeX produces a DVI (DeVice Independent) file that contains information about what glyphs and other objects go where on a page. Driver programs then interpret the DVI file, produce the glyphs for display or print, and place the glyphs at a precise location on the page. xdvi is one such program for screen display; dvips is another, for PostScript printers. Originally, many of these drivers used Metafont (a character drawing program designed by Donald Knuth) to produce bitmaps in the target resolution of the output device; say, 72 or 96 dpi (dots per inch) for screen display, or 300 or 600 dpi for laser printer printing.
So, as for the fonts themselves, distinct from the metric information TeX requires, broadly, there are (1) bitmap fonts and (2) outline fonts.
To summarize: there are two major kinds of fonts that TeX uses---bitmap and outline. Computer Modern, the default font family in TeX, is available in both flavors. OpenType, with its potential for access to advanced typographic features, is an exciting format for the future.
Don't get me started about fonts for math. Or font encodings. That's for another day.
This question was answered by Steve Grathwohl. Steve is a developer of digital content for Duke University Press. He began fooling around with TeX in the late 1980s and, aided and abetted by Duke, is still doing so. Steve is the local host for Practical TeX 2005 in Chapel Hill, NC this coming summer. Contact him at
A: The best way is to import your document into Word. TeX2Word can be used to open the document in Word and then you can use all the usual Office tools. The simplest would be to Copy-Paste the document from Word to PowerPoint.
This question was answered by Kirill A. Chikrii, Chikrii Softlab R&D, Kiev, Ukraine, developer of TeX2Word and Word2TeX. You may contact him at www.chikrii.com.
[LaTeX does a nice job of making slide presentations with the beamer, prosper, and other packages. For example, see Tristan Miller's article on making LaTeX slides in this issue. It's also possible that the PowerPoint presenters at the questioner's conference may have wondered how he made such nice slides! -Ed.]
1. The word is "typewriter." A "typewriter" is a device used by the ancient peoples of the known world to reproduce letters.
2. Two choices here, either "deadlines" (deadliness) or "timelines" (timeliness).
See other Jon Carroll Xmas Quizzes.
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