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Re: Font problem (longer than I'd hoped!)

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  • Subject: [mg6682] Re: [mg6516] Font problem (longer than I'd hoped!)
  • From: David Elbert <elbert at>
  • Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 01:09:00 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Serge Lavoie wrote:

>When I want to input a function like Solve [...], I can't write the
>caracter "[". When I try, I see in the screen the caracter "@". In other
>program then mathematica, everything is correct. Please help me!

I don't know what version of Mma or machine is the problem here, but I have
had lots of font problems with version on a Macintosh and thought I
pass along a little info in hopes that it helps.  The real fix I am hoping
for doesn't seem to exist and Wolfram has not gotten back to me about it
(using only PostScript fonts on a Mac).

The problems seem to stem from Mma requiring TrueType fonts on the Mac
(rather than PostScript).  For those who don't know what TrueType is, it is
a font format created by Apple and Microsoft a few years ago.  (I think it
was an effort to end-run Adobe's dominance in printing and graphics
technologies.) TrueType has never supplanted PostScript, but does continue
to muddy the waters on Macs and Windows machines.  There is no real problem
using TrueType, unless you  do a lot of graphics stuff that is PostScript
based as well... then you get lots of confusion and inappropriate
substitution of fonts when you least expect it (or can least afford the
time to have things not print correctly!). It is the confusion over which
font format is being used when that causes most of the problems.

When you run the Mma installer on a Mac, it sticks a series of TrueType
fonts in the fonts folder.  These are in a fonts suitcase called MathFonts
(about 2.1 Mb), that needs to be manually put into the Fonts folder within
the system folder.  These include a variety of fonts named "Math*", with
the * being a number from 1 to 5.  Each comes with bitmap representations
in a few sizes, and an outline representation.  The bitmaps are for screen
viewing and the outlines are for use by the printer.

The installer also puts in a series of fonts with two-letter names starting
with M.  These include MT, MC, etc.  These are still something of a mystery
to me because they are only bitmap representations--no outlines.  They seem
to be slightly different versions of the "standard" postscript set of fonts
(Times, Courier, etc.).  Although these fonts do not have outlines, and so
they shouldn't affect printing, I have found that stripping them out of my
system leaves me unable to print most standard Mma input lines (anything
with arrows or curly braces for example).  This despite the fact that the
standard Courier, Times, etc. versions are present.  To make it clear, I
must have both the standard, TrueType outlines for these standard fonts
(which are installed by the Apple installer) and the mysterious M"*"
bitmaps in my system to get appropriate printout.  This has created
problems for me, because I can't have both the TrueType standard set and
the real PostScript standard set in the system at the same time without
causing screw ups with PostScript-based programs (like Adobe Type Manager
[ATM], Illustrator, PDF Writer, etc.).

The frustration here is that Mma uses real PostScript fonts on other
platforms (and in older Mac versions).  In fact, the installer wastes disc
space by installing all those Type 1, PostScript fonts on my Mac, but
doesn't seem to use them.  I have even gone so far as to create new
PostScript fonts out of the TrueType they supply, in the hopes of
sidestepping these problems, but I haven't been able to get Mma to use them
(too bad I don't have access to the soruce code :)

The really, really bothersome thing about this issue, is that I can't
really use one of the potentially nicest features of Mma... the option to
copy something as a bitmap (PICT on a Mac), with embedded PostScript.  This
allows you to take the lovely plots and equations from version 3 and paste
them into word processors and graphics programs. Unfortunately, these don't
really come with PostScript embedded because so much of the graphic is
constructed with font elements... and these are no longer PostScript!

Whew... sorry if that rambled too much.  I hope it helps someone out there.
I certainly don't fully understand WRI's choices with fonts, but perhaps
some of my conjectures are useful.

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