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Re: Annotating Mathematica EPS files with Illustrator

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  • Subject: [mg46534] Re: Annotating Mathematica EPS files with Illustrator
  • From: "Steve Luttrell" <steve1 at>
  • Date: Sun, 22 Feb 2004 11:27:32 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <c16ln5$5n3$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

I posted this reply in another thread on 9 January 2004, but it seems to be
relevant here as well. To cut a long story short, it is possible to generate
all the annotation you want entirely within Mathematica, which saves me
having to buy (and learning to use) other software packages. The user manual
suggests various simple techniques that I have found to be next to useless
if you want to create really nice annotation (i.e. mixed fonts, maths that
looks the way it should, etc). After some experimentation I came up with the
following general solution to the problem which I posted earlier (you must
remember to embed any unusual - e.g. Mathematica - fonts in the PDF you
eventually create):

I have spent a lot of time trying to find a way of adding decent
looking annotation to plots in Mathematica. The key trick that I
have found is a way of using the Text graphics primitive to add
any nicely formatted text that you can ordinarily create in a text

For example set the default textstyle for graphics text (this is
important otherwise things don't display nicely)

$TextStyle = {FontFamily -> "Times", FontSize -> 16};

and then use the following template to create a text graphic


Now the problem is to construct a suitable expression to insert in
place of the ... above.

You can generate an appropriate expression to use for ... by using
the text editing capabilities of Mathematica to create a Text cell
that looks exactly like what you want to display in the text
graphic above, and then copy from the Text cell the expression you
need to make the text graphic work properly.

For instance if you could a bold x with a 0 subscript in an
embedded cell in a Text cell. If you then Show Expression on this
cell you get

      TraditionalForm]]]], "Text"]

Now if you copy the part from the FormBox[... to the
....TraditionalForm] which is


and paste it in place of ... in
Show[Graphics[Text[DisplayForm[...],{0,0}]]] at the top of this
message. You then have an expression that displays as a text
graphic exactly what you created in the Text cell above. It looks
like this when it has been spliced together

Show[Graphics[Text[DisplayForm[ FormBox[

The above input cell creates the required text graphic. This
approach generalises to arbitrarily complicated expresions that
you can construct in a Text cell.

This trick is EXTREMELY USEFUL. I find that I can create very nice
looking annotated graphics without ever needing to go outside
Mathematica. Even better, I can generate all of my graphics under
software control, so it is very quick and easy to make changes.

Now why isn't this trick described in the Mathematica book?

Steve Luttrell
West Malvern, UK

"Kevin Gross" <kc144 at> wrote in message
news:c16ln5$5n3$1 at
> Hi folks,
> I know that some of you annotate Mathematica EPS graphics using Adobe
> Illustrator.  How are you able to do that while
> (1) using the Mathematica fonts and font combinations (e.g. the greek
> letter nu with a tilde on top, i.e. from the front end, type <ESC> nu
> <ESC> <CTRL 7> ~)
> (2) automatically preserving the bounding box info?
> I'm looking for any tips that can be used to have Mathematica output a
> high-quality EPS file that can be imported by and annotated in
> Illustrator and subsequently conversion to PDF.  I obtained
> Illustrator and Distiller for this purpose, but the long story below
> details my unsuccessful trip down this path.
> Thanks,
> Kevin
> ---The long story---
> Mathematica 5 on Mac OSX (10.3.2)
> Adobe Illustrator CS (11.0)
> Adobe Distiller (6.0.1)
> I exported a Mathematica graphic as an EPS file with the fonts
> embedded, which can be found here:
> <>
> It was converted to PDF using (image viewer that ships w/
> OSX) and is found here:
> <>
> I can open the EPS file using Illustrator, but parentheses, minus
> signs and greek text don't show up properly.  This seems odd as
> Illustrator can see the Mathematica fonts. (For those who speak Mac
> OSX: Mathematica.dfont installed in ~/Library/Fonts and the fonts are
> accessible from within Illustrator).  Opening the PDF is slightly
> better, but nu with a tilde on top shows up as a question mark.
> Then I thought Illustrator would be happy if it opened up a PDF
> created by its cousin Distiller.  The resulting PDF file has the right
> fonts, but now the bounding box is wrong.  I'm using the Standard
> presets for Distiller which, according to the documentation, uses the
> %%BoundingBox comment to determine the page size of the PDF.  Opening
> this PDF in Illustrator still gives a question mark for the nu with a
> tilde on top.
> I also tried the same excercise but with an EPS file that did not
> include the Mathematica fonts.  Import to Illustrator resulted in
> Courier being substituted for many characters.  Why when it can see
> the Mathematica fonts?  Distiller correctly picks up the Mathematica fonts
but still
> has the bounding box issue and nu-tilde still shows up as a question
> mark.  ARG!
> And even if I get this font problem resolved, it looks as if I'll need
> to manually set the page dimensions from within Illustrator. I assumed
> that by opening the EPS file, the canvas size would be automatically
> set to what was in the %%BoundingBox comment.
> So is this a problem with the Mathematica-generated postscript file or
> did the Adobe, the authors of postscript, supply flakey PS parsers in
> their Illustrator and Distiller programs?  Or have I completely missed
> something?

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