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Displaying Rotated Text on a Macintosh or Sun

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  • Subject: [mg6301] Displaying Rotated Text on a Macintosh or Sun
  • From: Dick Zacher <dick at>
  • Date: Sat, 8 Mar 1997 00:26:24 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: Performance Engineering Dept., Tandem Computers
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

I'm using Mathematica 3.0 on both a Macintosh (PowerMac 8500 running
System 7.5.5; has Adobe Type Manager 4.0) and a Sun (SPARCstation 20
running Solaris). On both platforms, rotated text fails to display
properly. The letters come out in roughly the right places, but the
letters themselves stay in the normal orientation rather than being
rotated 90 degrees CCW.  Very hard to read!  However, on both platforms
if you _print_ the graph, the text is rendered properly. Is there, I
wondered, something that I am doing wrong that causes text display not
to work properly?

Wolfram's FAQ pages give the following unhelpful and slightly misleading

>Q: How can I get the Text primitive to rotate properly to all angles? 
>A: Mathematica's PostScript renderer relies on system-dependent 
>routines to generate fonts. Depending upon your machine, this could be 
>TrueType, Adobe Type Manager, or a collection of bitmapped fonts. If 
>your fonts aren't rotating correctly on the screen, then chances are 
>that your system's default font manager does not fully support rotated 
>text, and thus hinders Mathematica's ability to display it on the 
>Note that if you print your graphic to a PostScript printer, that the 
>graphic will have the text rotated perfectly. That's because, even 
>though the system can't display rotated fonts correcty to the screen, 
>Mathematica will preserve the underlying PostScript code so that any 
>PostScript printer can understand it. 

Since I have tried both TrueType and Adobe Type Manager with
Mathematica, both without success; and since other popular Macintosh
graphics applications seem to have no trouble displaying rotated text, I
asked Wolfram's technical support to elaborate on the above statement.
Are my system configurations simply wrong on both platforms, or does
Mathematica _never_ display rotated fonts correctly on Macintosh and Sun
platforms?  The reply: 

>Hello, Thank you for the email. Sorry about the long delay in our 
>response. There is nothing wrong with the configuration of your 
>systems; Mathematica is behaving exactly as expected. The default font 
>managesrs for these systems do not support rotated fonts on screen. If 
>you have an application that displays rotated fonts (and many do), then 
>the application has special routines built-in to do this. Mathematica 
>has no such special routines.
>Sincerely, Alan DeGuzman
>Technical Support
>Wolfram Research, Inc.

Well.  I was naively hoping for an answer like, "You can correct this
problem by installing the freeware extension SuperFontManager...."; or
maybe, "We have solved this problem; you can download a patch from our
web site, www.wolf...."; or at the very least, "This problem will be
fixed in Mathematica 3.1.  Please wait two years, then send us $985 for
an upgrade".

Instead what I get is (if I may paraphrase) "We designed Mathematica so
that rotated fonts won't work on your platforms.  They don't work
exactly as they were designed not to work, so we are off the hook!"

Out of curiosity, I tried rendering one of my graphs with MathReader on
a Windows NT workstation. The rotated text came out correct!  Score one
more for Microsoft. (A loud Bronx cheer is heard from Macophiles in the

OK.  The NT workstation is using TrueType fonts.  The Macintosh is using
TrueType fonts.  Mathematica can display rotated text on the NT
workstation, but not on the Macintosh.  Wolfram Tech Support doesn't
know how to fix this problem, but maybe you do.  If so, please respond.


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