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Ask Nelly:
     Which fonts can be accessed from the TeX Live distribution just using usepackage?
     What is the difference between Fonts and Typefaces?
     Which are the best fonts for typesetting math?

The Editors


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.

Q: Which fonts can be accessed from the TeX Live distribution just using usepackage?

A: This question is answered in this issue's article by Walter Schmidt. See Section 3, and Reference [3]. Following are some additional notes by editorial board member Steve Peter:

Every LaTeX distribution provides support for almost all of the fonts in what is called the standard "PSNFSS collection". Some distributions provide for additional fonts, such as lucida and lucsans, which require the commercial Lucida fonts (available from TUG and PCTeX). The PSNFSS fonts are documented in psnfss2e.pdf which you can find in your TeX installation at /texmf/doc/latex/psnfss, or at CTAN.

In addition, there are a number of packages outside of PSNFSS that can be used to control fonts. The Latin Modern package (lmodern) switches to the PostScript version of Latin Modern, an enhanced version of Computer Modern.

In addition, the bera package sets the text fonts to varieties of the bera font (a modified version of Vera), luximono will set your typewriter font to Luxi Mono, kerkis switches to the Kerkis fonts, beton switches to the Concrete fonts, punk gives you Knuth's Punk font, but only in a bitmapped version. As you can see, most of the packages are named the same as the fonts they provide support for, so poke around the /texmf/tex/latex directory for additions.


Q: What is the difference between Fonts and Typefaces?

A: Fonts and typefaces are very different things, even though people tend to use the terms interchangeably. Typefaces are designs like Bembo, Gill Sans or Papyrus. Type designers create typefaces, using software programs to shape the individual letters. A few still draw the letters by hand and then scan the drawings into a type-design application.

Fonts are the things that enable the printing of typefaces. Type foundries produce fonts. Sometimes designers and foundries are one and the same, but creating a typeface and producing a font are two separate functions.

From Design to Font

The 16th-century French designer Claude Garamond created the typeface that now carries his name. Creating the design was a multistage process. First he cut a letter (backward) on the end of a steel rod. The completed letter was called a punch. Next he took the punch and hammered it into a flat piece of soft brass to make a mold of the letter. A combination of molten lead, zinc and antimony was poured into the mold, and the result was a piece of type whose face was an exact copy of the punch. After Garamond made punches for all the letters he would use and cast as many pieces of type as he thought he would need, he put the type into a typecase. The resulting collection of letters was a font of type.

Many Fonts — One Typeface

Over the years, there have been hand-set fonts, machine-set fonts, phototype fonts and now digital fonts of the Garamond typeface. Currently there are TrueType, PostScript Type1 and OpenType fonts of Garamond. There are Latin 1 fonts of Garamond, used to set most of the languages in Western Europe, and Greek and Cyrillic fonts, which enable the setting of these alphabets. All these fonts are of the Garamond typeface design.

This question was answered by typography author Allan Haley, Director of Words and Letters at Monotype Imaging and chairman of the SOTA board of directors.


Q: Which are the best fonts for typesetting math?

A: If you ask this question of a dozen mathematicians, math book and journal publishers, and others who use math fonts, you will likely get a dozen different answers. Choosing the best TeX math font may be a matter of reviewing some of those currently available, and making sure the fonts fit well with the text font you want to use.

There are at least two good math font surveys available. In this issue there is a good survey article of free math fonts by Stephen G. Hartke. Walter Schmidt maintains a web site which gives examples of various free and non-free math fonts combined with text fonts (his page is in German — use Google translation tools or similar if you like, and remember that "fette" (bold) in German may translate as "fat" or "grease" in English).

Also in this issue are two articles on non-free math fonts. David Walden writes about Lucida fonts, which contain both text and math fonts. Michael Spivak describes how the MathTime Professional fonts, which are a good match with Times and Baskerville text fonts, took over his life.


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