Tired of that “TeX” look?

TeX has been using computer modern (CM) font since its inception. But that “TeX” look may become a bit tiring. Of course, TeX is a typesetting engine, it is not limited to CM fonts. On the other hand, there aren’t so many fonts around for both the text and the math. (If you have no math,  xeTex makes it easy to use most fonts you can imagine, including the Microsoft and google families).

I found a very clear review of existing alternatives at the Font usage post, by Ryosuke Iritani (入谷 亮介). I have taken his suggestions and created a gallery, with a simple sample of text and equations.

More elegant Palatino

\linespread{1.05} % Palladio needs more leading (space between lines)


Kpfonts (Palatino-like)




Used e.g. in Wikipedia on each sectioning




Scientific and Technical Information Exchange; Times-based but much more elegant than txfonts package.




It’s a bit thin and less friendly



Utopia (Adobe)






Crimson (with math support)




Baskerville-based, thicker font

\usepackage[lf]{Baskervaldx} % lining figures
\usepackage[bigdelims,vvarbb]{newtxmath} % math italic letters from Nimbus Roman
\usepackage[cal=boondoxo]{mathalfa} % mathcal from STIX, unslanted a bit



So far, the only font not included the Iritani’s Font usage post!


\usepackage{titlesec}  % this enforces helvetica in section and chapter titles
  {\chaptertitlename\ \thechapter}{20pt}{\Huge}

% In main text, at the beginning:

% before the first equation:


The code

All the above was produced with variations of this file. I just run latex on it, then dvips to get a ps file, which I then crop and export as PNG using the GIMP. Of course, depending on the system, some LaTeX packages may be needed, as well as fonts (I had to install urw-garamond on my arch linux system, for example.)






\usepackage{lipsum}% for filler text


\section{A section}



\frac{d \mathbf{u}}{d t} = - \nabla p + \nu \nabla^2 \mathbf{u},

E &= m c^{2},\\
T &= 2\pi \sqrt{\frac{m}{k}}

\iint \phi = - \oint p


New LaTeX directions

Prompted by my friend Jan Hlavacek, I have compiled a list of recent and exciting developments in the TeX world. Good reads inculde

The list:

  • beamer (see post)
  • posters (see post)
  • XeTeX (see post)
  • LaTeX markup in wikipedia and google docs (see  post)
  • luatex, combining the lua language and TeX
  • pgf, a TeX macro package for generating graphics
  • The LaTeX3 project, a long-term research project to develop the next version of the LaTeX typesetting system (currently at LaTeX2e).
  • Support for BiBTeX in some journals (e.g., the APS, the AMS). And, on the WoK, which must be quite recent (I have just noticed).
  • mplib (Mmmh, couldn’t find anything about this…).


Prompted by Jan:

  • luatex has a (shortish) wikipedia entry.
  • MPLib is an extended MetaPost library module. There is some info at the luatex site, but a wikipedia entry has not been written (go write one yourself!). MetaPost does have an entry.
  • Very exciting developments in fonts (both related to luatex):
    • latin modern, “derived from the famous Computer Modern fonts designed by Donald E. Knuth
    • TeX gyre fonts, “an extensive remake and extension of the freely available 35 base PostScript fonts distributed with Ghostscript ver. 4.00”. (I love the word gyre, too. See ocean gyres.)
  • The Ipe drawing editor. Looks very nice – to tell the truth, I am still struggling with inkscape, which looks incredibly powerful.

And, some stuff I’ve discovered on my own:

  • BibTeX tools for microsoft word: Bibshare (made in Spain).
  • LaTeX markup in google docs (ok, I had another entry on this).
  • LaTeX typing in MathType.
  • LaTeX into power point: TexPoint and TeX4PPT.

The typography nazi + LaTeX

That’s right, typography über alles. A nice article on receding hairline exposes some common typographic mistakes, and how to fix them. I was aware of some of them, and I think I know how to fix them in LaTeX:

  1. Use and for quotes, always. emacs does this automatically, if in tex mode!
  2. should do the trick, I guess.
  3. $’$ should work, probably.
  4. $\times$. As before, math comes to the rescue.
  5. $^\circ$ seems a decent choice.
  6. This is well known in LaTeX: , , and produce a hyphen, n-dash, and m-dash. $-$ is the minus sign.
  7. I don’t get this point so clearly, but $17.99$ is standard math in LaTeX. $\cdot$ may be used for a centred dot.
  8. $\ldots$. Any respectable LaTeXist knows that!
  9. Ok, parentheses they are. That’s what they are called in Spanish, anyway.
  10. $\frac{1}{2}$ is a decent choice, but it seems the standard unicode character should be recognized using latin1 encoding, or surely XeTeX.

Update: at some stage, latex has begun to accept (with \usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}), things like “”, ·, @ (nice for email addresses), æ (nice for CV’s); also, ¿ and 1º (Spanish). Some things like ½ are not supported, but they are in XeTeX.


Today, I had the strange experience of rendering a LaTeX source producing a pdf with a perfect verdana font. Simply by including some lines in the header of the source (“preamble”), then invoking xelatex.After struggling with fonts in TeX for years, it seems like a miracle that the mere invocation of a font’s name “just works” (I still have to research equation fonts, another long-standing issue). But the XeTeX project is more ambitious, since it aims to join unicode and TeX, thus providing a professional typesetting solution for characters such as Chinese, Japanese, Georgian, Arabic, Hebrew…

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