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Formatting information — An introduction to typesetting with LATEX

Chapter 6: Layouts and fonts

In this chapter…

  1. Changing layout
  2. Using fonts
  3. Installing new fonts

This is the chapter that most users think they want first, because they come to structured documents from a wordprocessing environment where the only way to convey different types of information is to fiddle with the font and size drop-down menus.

As I hope you have seen, this is normally completely unnecessary in LATEX, which does most of the hard work for you automatically. However, there are occasions when you need to make manual typographic changes, and this chapter is about how to do them.

  1. This does not apply for the German technique in blackletter type of using letter-spacing instead of (non-existent) italics. The defaults in the soul package were designed to cater for this. 

  2. The Helvetica typeface family has a notoriously large x-height, making it hard to match with other typefaces at the same nominal size. The helvet package therefore has a scaled option that lets you reduce the optical size slightly so that the font sits more easily with others: \usepackage[scaled=0.86]{helvet}, for example. 

  3. The pslatex package is also said to be outdated by some experts because it implements rather long-windedly what can now be done in three commands. However, until these replace the current version, I recommend continuing to use pslatex when you want Times with Helvetica and narrow Courier. 

  4. Although if you're a typographer wanting to experiment with typewriter typefaces with and without serifs, you can use METAFONT or FontForgeto do exactly this kind of thing. But that's way outside the scope of this document. 

  5. On UNIX and GNU/Linux systems, including Apple Macs, the easiest way to do this is in a Terminal window, in your Personal TEX Directory, using the command mkdir -p fonts/source/public/whatever, as this creates any intervening subdirectories for you. Under Windows, you have to create each subsubdirectory individually. 

  6. 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. 

  7. 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. 

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