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Formatting Information — An introduction to typesetting with LATEX

Appendix B: Installing new fonts

Section 3: Installing PostScript fonts

In this section…

  1. Font Definitions

Lots of people will tell you that PostScript fonts and PostScript output are dead and that TrueType or OpenType fonts and PDF output are the way to go. While this may be true for some cases, standard LATEX does not work with TrueType fonts and does not produce PDF directly. Only XƎLATEX and PDFLATEX do that, and there are still many printers whose typesetters and platemakers require PostScript files rather than PDFs. In addition, operating system support for scalable fonts is still very poor on Unix and GNU/Linux systems, despite the advances in recent years, and many rebranded (‘knock-off’ or pirated) TrueType or OpenType fonts supplied with other systems are of very poor quality. So in many cases it still makes sense to use TEX’s built-in support for PostScript fonts. When XƎTEX becomes the default processor (it’s currently still PDFLATEX), it will no longer be necessary to install different types of font files separately, as XƎLATEX is able to use all fonts natively from your system’s font folders.

Two files are needed for each PostScript Type 1 font: the .afm Adobe Font Metric (AFM) and the .pfb PostScript Font Binary (PFB) files. You must have both types of file for each separate font before you start. If you only have the near-obsolete .pfa PostScript Font ASCII (PFA) files, it may be possible to generate the .pfb files using the t1binary program from the t1utils suite (see or the excellent FontForge font editor (from There are unfortunately still some companies distributing Type 1 fonts in .pfa format (Mathematica is one reported recently).

I’ll repeat this: before you start, make sure you have all the .afm and .pfb files for the typeface you want. In the example below, I’m going to use a single font from an imaginary typeface called Foo, so I have foo.afm and foo.pfb files.

    Installation of PostScript Type 1 fonts: Preparation

    This part is very quick, but needs explaining.

  1. Put the files into a temporary directory

    This is /tmp on Unix & GNU/Linux, including Apple Macintosh OS X; C:\tmp or C:\temp on Windows 95–XP; and should be Computer\System\Users\your~name\tmp on Windows 7 and up.

  2. Decide on the short font name to use inside LATEX.

    This is not the full descriptive name (eg Baskerville Italic Bold Extended) but an encoded font name in the format fnnsseev, devised by Karl Berry, which stores the same information in no more than eight characters for compatibility with systems which cannot handle long filenames (and incidentally makes it far easier to type). The letters in the format above have the following meanings (see the fontname documentation on your computer for more details). Lists of the codes used are in the files,,,, and the various .map files for each foundry, which are in your TEX installation.

    ffoundryb=Bitstream, m=Monotype, p=Adobe
    nntypeface nameba=Baskerville, tm=Times, pl=Palatino
    ssseries/shaper=roman, b=bold, i=italic, etc
    eeencoding8r=TEXBase1, 8t=Cork
    vvariantsmallcaps, outline, script, etc

    The fonts/map/fontname directory in your main (not local) installation directory of TEX has files for several foundries giving fully-formed names like these for common fonts (eg ptmr8r is [Adobe] Post­Script Times Roman in an 8–bit revised TEX encoding; bgslly is Bitstream Gill Sans Light in Y&Y’s TEX’n’ANSI encoding [LY1]). Read the documentation in ‘Fontname: Filenames for TEX fonts’ to find out how to make up your own short names if the foundry and font you want is not shown in the lists in the fonts/map/fontname directory.

    In this example we’ll call our mythical example typeface ‘zork’ (standing for Zfonts Ordinary Bookface: z for a foundry otherwise undefined; or for Ordinary; and k is the letter used for Book designs, b being already the code for bold). We’ll assume the font comes in the two files foo.afm and foo.pfb that I mentioned above.

    While the font/map/fontname directories have ready-made maps of these names for popular collections of typefaces, making them up requires some knowledge of typographic terms and a careful reading of the fontname documentation.

  3. Decide on your encoding

    Encoding is needed because Adobe fonts store their characters in different places to the TEX standard. This is what tripped me up the first few times until someone pointed me at Y&Y’s TEX’n’ANSI encoding which at the time was the only one that included the glyphs I want where I expected them to be. Now, however, I recommend using the 8r encoding for all PostScript fonts. The encoding vector file 8r.enc should be in your main (not local) TEX installation directory in fonts/enc/dvips/base.

    To avoid having to type the long path each time below, just copy this file to the temporary directory where you’re doing all this stuff.

Now you’re ready to convert the files to TEX format.

    Installation of PostScript Type 1 fonts: Conversion

  1. Convert the .afm files to .tfm and .vf format

    The Adobe Font Metric files have to be converted to TEX Font Metric and Virtual Font files. The afm2tfm and vptovf programs are standard TEX utilities in the bin directory of your main TEX installation.

    In a command window, we type:

    afm2tfm foo.afm -v zork8r.vpl -p 8r.enc rzork8r.tfm >

    This reads foo.afm using the 8r.enc encoding file, and creates a special ‘raw’ TEX Font Metric file (hence the r prefix on rzork8r.tfm) that LATEX can use, with a list of all its properties encoded with 8r in the .vpl or Virtual Property List file.

    Many people will tell you that virtual fonts are dead and that this is the wrong way to do it, but no-one has ever shown me an alternative that works, so I stick with it.

  2. Small caps (optional)

    If you want a small caps variant faked up (perhaps because the typeface family doesn’t have a real small-caps font), repeat the medicine like this:

    afm2tfm foo.afm -V zork8rc.vpl -p 8r.enc rzork8r.tfm >>

    Note the capital V option here. Yes, it does overwrite the rzorkly.tfm created in the first command — it doesn’t matter; let it (it will be the same information, anyway). And those are two ‘greater-than’ signs before the filename because we want to append to it, not overwrite it.

  3. Create the virtual font

    The vptovf program turns the .vpl files into .vf and .tfm pairs. LATEX uses these to map the character positions from Adobe’s encoding to its own.

    vptovf zork8r.vpl zork8r.vf zork8r.tfm
    vptovf zork8rc.vpl zork8rc.vf zork8rc.tfm

Now we can install the files.

    Installation of PostScript Type 1 fonts: Installation

  1. Make directories to hold the files

    Under your Personal TEX Directory, create a fonts subdirectory, and in it, create an afm, tfm, type1, and vf subsubdirectories (they may already exist from a previous font installation)

  2. In each of these four, create a subdirectory for the foundry, making up a name if it’s not an established one (see the file)

  3. Within each of the foundry directories, create a directory for the typeface (using an abbreviated human-readable typeface name, NOT the short Karl Berry fontname). On my computer, this means doing:

    cd ~/texmf/fonts 
    mkdir -p afm/zfonts/zork
    mkdir -p tfm/zfonts/zork 
    mkdir -p type1/zfonts/zork
    mkdir -p vf/zfonts/zork 
    cd /tmp

    Under Windows, where the mkdir has no /p option, you probably have to create each subsubdirectory individually.

  4. Copy the files to their rightful places

    Copy the four groups of files to the four new directories:

    cp *.afm ~/texmf/fonts/afm/zfonts/zork/
    cp *.tfm ~/texmf/fonts/tfm/zfonts/zork/
    cp *.pfb ~/texmf/fonts/type1/zfonts/zork/
    cp *.vf ~/texmf/fonts/vf/zfonts/zork/

    where ~/texmf is the root of your Personal TEX Directory. You can of course do all this with a directory window and mouse if you find it easier.

Last stage is to create the font map, style file, and font definition files.

    Installation of PostScript Type 1 fonts: Configuration

  1. Create a font map

    The font map is what tells TEX’s font driver which PFB file to use for which font.

    Open your editor and create a new file (if it asks for a name, call it

  2. Font entries MUST be on a single line each, with no line-breaking. Each entry has five fields separated by a space: a) the short fontname; b) the full (Adobe) font name; c) the PostScript encoding parameters (in quotes, with a leading and trailing space); d) the encoding file used; and e) the name of the PostScript outline file. Fortunately, we captured almost all of this in those .id files in the penultimate step ‘Small caps (optional)’, so all you need to do is copy all those .id files into this file (eg cat *.id >>, and add a space and the less-than sign and the name of the appropriate .pfb file to the end of each line, eg

    rzork8r ZorkOrdinary-Book " TeXBase1Encoding ReEncodeFont " <8r.enc <zork.pfb
  3. Save the file in fonts/map in your Personal TEX Directory

  4. Update the map file into your TEX’s file maps with the command:

    updmap --enable
  5. Create a style file

    LATEX needs a style file to implement the interface to the font. Call it after the typeface or something related; in this example we’ll call it foozork.sty and it needs to be saved into tex/latex/zork/ in your Personal TEX Directory.

    In it go some details of the name and date we did this, what version of LATEX it needs, and any other command necessary to operate the font, like the font encoding and whether it is to supersede the current default Roman font.

    Use your editor to open (create) this file

  6. Insert the following lines (obviously replacing the foozork stuff with meaningful values for your own fonts:

    % foozork - LaTeX style file for the Zork font
        Zfonts Ordinary PSNFSS2e package]

    Note the following:

    • The first argument to \ProvidesPackage  MUST be the same as this style file name;

    • If this is a typewriter font, change the renewed command \rmdefault into \ttdefault. If it’s a sans-serif font, make it \sfdefault instead.

      Omit this command completely if you don’t want the style file to supersede the current defaults but simply to make the font available for manual use.

    • If you do that, you probably want to write a new command or two to use it, typically one unscoped command for grouped use and one scoped one for argument use:

  7. Save and close the file.

  8. Create the Font Definition file

    The last file needed is the font definition (.fd) file. This is named following the pattern eefnn.fd, using the same conventions as before, by prepending the (lowercase) encoding abbreviation to the foundry letter and fontname abbreviation, so our example would be t1zor.fd for the T1 (8r) encoding and the zor short fontname.

    Use your editor to create the file in ~/texmf/tex/latex/zork (replacing zork with the name of the directory you created there).

  9. Enter the following lines (see the notes below about what they mean):

    \ProvidesFile{t1zor.fd}[2016/12/03 v0.1 manual 
                  font definitions for T1/zor.]
    \DeclareFontShape{T1}{zor}{k}{n}{<-> zork8r}{}
    \DeclareFontShape{T1}{zor}{k}{sc}{<-> zork8rc}{}
  10. Save and close the file.

Now you can \usepackage{foozork} in your LATEX file to make it the default font. To use the font incidentally instead of as the default, you can use the commands you added at the end of the step ‘Create a style file’:

This is {\zorkfamily ZORK} or \textzork{ZORK}

B.3.1 Font Definitions

FD files typically use one \DeclareFontFamily command which specifies the encoding and the short font name. This is followed by as many pairs of \DeclareFontShape commands as you converted fonts (assuming you did both normal and small caps for each font: see the penultimate step ‘Small caps (optional)’; if you didn’t, then only one such command per font is needed here). The arguments to the \DeclareFontShape command to watch are the 3rd (weight/width, here k for Book, remember?), 4th (shape), and 5th (the size range and the name of the entry in the font map, minus the r prefix): the rest are static for each .fd file and simply identify the encoding and the font family.

The codes to use are given on pages 414–15 of the The LATEX Companion and should also be in your copies of and The rules for combining weight and width need care: read the documentation for the fontname package. There is no in fontname because it’s not part of font file names, it’s purely a LATEX creation, so here’s what the same book says:

nnormal (upright)
scsmall caps
uiupright italic

Add your own for other oddities, but be consistent: I use cu for cursive (scripts), for example, and k for blackletter faces (not to be confused with k as a width for ‘book’).

The default size range <-> in the fifth argument of the command \DeclareFontShape means that all sizes are to come from the same font outline (remember if this was a METAFONT font with different design sizes like CM it would be much more complex).

If the face has only a few variants, you can create any other entries for bold, italic, slanted, etc with the relevant weight and width and shape values pointing at the relevant outline file.

If you want one font to substitute for a missing one (for example italics to substitute for slanted in a typeface which has no slanted variant of its own) give the ssub (‘silent substitution’) command in the fontspec: for example to make all references to sl (slanted) type use an existing italic font, make the 5th argument like this:

{<-> ssub * zor/k/it}

If you find the x-height of a font too big or too small to sort well with another font you are using, you can specify an s (‘scale’) factor in this argument instead: this example will shrink the result to 80% of normal:

{<-> s * [0.8] zork8r}
  1. Confusingly, Bitstream fonts (and others from similar sources) mostly have different names from the original fonts, to avoid copyright issues, so what they call Humanist 521 is actually Gill Sans. Until recently, US law only allowed the names of typefaces to be copyrighted, not the font designs themselves, leading to widespread piracy. 

  2. Y&Y, Inc has ceased trading and their TEX distribution is not longer available, although there is email support at, and their encoding files continue to be used. 

  3. The only one I had problems with is ‘Å’, which for some weird reason isn’t catered for in this encoding.