LaTeX: Fonts

FIXME: typeset the tables

LaTeX Fonts 

You will need to define your fonts at the beginning of any LaTeX document. After defining them, you'll only need to use font commands to change the font, for instance to bold or italicize a word or words.

In LaTeX, there are generally three styles within any font family, which are distinguished as font family, font shape, and font series. The commands for family, shape, and series are commutative, so they can be combined as with the command:

{\bfseries\itshape\sfffamily text you want in bold, italics, and sans-serif}

The above command would make the type in bold, italic, and sans-serif. The commands for font can only be combined as long as they aren't contradictory. Contradictory font commands would be trying to get slanted italics, or attempting to combine different font families.

LaTeX expects three font families as defaults. Font Family Code Command

For the common type shape and series commands, use the simplified syntax in the table below.

Type Style Command Example Italic \textit{words in italics} puts the words in the brackets in italics Slanted \textsl{words to be slanted} puts a few words in slanted type. Small Capitals \textsc{words to be in small capitals} puts the words in the brackets in small capitals Bold \textbf{words to be in bold} puts the words in brackets in bold Sans-serif \textsf{words to be in sans-serif} puts the words into sans-serif type Monospace \texttt{words to be in monospace} puts a few words in typewriter type Monospace {tt words} Monospaces all words within the curly braces. Italics {it words} Italicizes all words within the curly braces.

Font Size 

Font size in LaTeX is controlled with font size commands. Please note that you will need to reset the font size with one of these commands after changing it. Also, note that certain commands may overrule the font size commands. If you want to select just some text for a size change, use the following commands in the bracket, command, bracket words, close bracket, sizes are listed in the table below.

Command     Nominal Point Size      Exact Point Size
\tiny       5       5
\scriptsize 7       7
\footnotesize       8       8
\small      9       9
\normalsize 10      10
\large      12      12
\Large      14      14.40
\LARGE      18      17.28
\huge       20      20.74
\Huge       24      24.88

Changing Fonts 

If you use any packages that change the font, those packages will change the default of the same type. For instance, using the Bookman font (which is default Roman font Bookman, but leaves the sans-serif and monospace fonts alone. Similarly, using the Helvetica font (done with this command in the Helvetica, but leaves the Roman and Monospace fonts alone. When changing fonts, you can do so like this, using the command and calling the particular font, or you can change all of the default fonts at once with the following commands.

Command     Changes the defaults to
times       Times, Helvetica, Courier
pslatex     same as Times, but uses a specially narrowed Courier. This is preferred over Times because of the way it handles Courier.
newcent     New Century Schoolbook, Avant Garde, Courier
palatino    Palatino, Helevetica, Courier
palatcm     changes the Roman to Palatino only, but uses CM mathematics

For more on the fonts available with a typical LaTeX installation, please see the documentation in the IMAGE Lab (page 75 in A Beginner's Guide to Typsetting with LaTeX). Also, please note that there are many more fonts available for download.

Changing Fonts Temporarily 

To change the font temporarily, first group the text where you want the font changed in curly braces. Then, use the commands \fontencoding, \fontfamily, and \selectfont. These commands should be used immediately inside the opening curly braces, like:

{\fontfamily{phv}\selectfont Helvetica looks like this}
and {\fontencoding{OT1}\fontfamily{ppl} Palatino looks like this}.

The above commands would make a sentence where "Helvetica looks like this" would be in the Helvetica font (phv is the code for Helvetica) and "and" would be in the default font and "Palatino looks like this" would be in the Palatino font (denoted with the Palatino code, which is ppl). This example would be very rare, but it shows how the fonts can be changed in the most extreme circumstances.

Font Color 

Using the color package (which must be called in the Preamble), you can typeset LaTeX in any color. To add the color package in the Preamble, use the command:


The color package makes a default color package available. The colors available with this are: red, green, and blue (for screen display) and cyan, magenta, and yellow (to go with black for the CMYK color model for printing). To make a single word or phrase in color, use the command:

\textcolor{color}{words to be in color}

For more on color and how to use 255 colors, please see the documentation in the IMAGE Lab.

Updated Monday, 07-Feb-2005

documented on: 2008-06-21