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I work a lot with matrix algebra. I also give a lot of presentations. It'd be nice to have a good sans serif font to use for both. Currently, my choice is the bitstream vera sans with math package: arev.

The problem with most sans serif fonts for matrix algebra is that they do not have a good capital I. In these presentations, 'I' really needs to have it's tails, even in a sans serif font. (It's the all important identity operator after all.)

Hence my question:

  • Are there other sans serif packages that have a 'I' with tails? (I know about arev and lxfonts. I like arev, but it's pretty wide when using the matching text font. lxfonts is even worse.) Other desirable features are i, j, and l characters with a bit of a swish. I have not been able to find any that are miktex packages.

  • Is there a reasonable combination of letters I could use to patch an existing font with this behavior? And if so, how?

This seems to be a recurring question (see http://groups.google.com/group/latexusersgroup/browse_thread/thread/6f3853c13e295538/32fc03a336b8afd5 and http://thedailyreviewer.com/compsys/view/distinguished-capital-i-for-sans-serif-font-113312512)

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You want a sans serif font... but with serifs on the "I"? –  Seamus Feb 8 '11 at 17:34
    
Yes, I would like serifs on the I. In this setting, "I" is not a text I. It's really a mathematical symbol. And so insisting on a style for a mathematical symbol doesn't seem unreasonable. I wish font designers would realize that sometimes a more substantial I is important and would use some of the opentype operations to create these characters. –  dgleich Feb 11 '11 at 16:58
    
Rather than all that \DeclareMathSymbol stuff, you could just load the mathastext package. See an example here (switch my euler to arev if you like). –  frabjous Feb 11 '11 at 16:59
    
Your update seems to be an answer to your question. If yes, then it would be much better if you post it as an answer and remove the update from the question. You could even accept your own answer (and write that you got it due to frabjous' suggestion). –  Hendrik Vogt Feb 11 '11 at 21:37
    
Thanks for that suggestion. It's now an answer at the end. –  dgleich Feb 14 '11 at 4:18
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5 Answers

Relative newcomers to the TeX world are Google's droid fonts, but a package was recently put on CTAN. It has the feature you want for capital I.

\documentclass{article}
\renewcommand*{\familydefault}{\sfdefault}
\usepackage{droid}
\begin{document}
\Huge This is droid sans. I like it. 
\end{document}

enter image description here

No swish on i or l, but j does.

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Thanks for the suggestion of Droid. I really like that font too. I wish it had a real italic for lower-case math though. So I've done something naughty and combined droid with some of the arev symbols: –  dgleich Feb 11 '11 at 16:48
    
Why is that naughty? –  frabjous Feb 11 '11 at 16:59
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I suggest iwona.

Test:

enter image description here

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[math]{iwona}
\begin{document}

lmnLMN-IJKijk

$lmnLMN-ijkIJK$

\end{document}

See also http://www.tug.dk/FontCatalogue/iwona/

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You can try bodoni which has very subtle serifs

enter image description here

You also check out the font catalogue.

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That's not sans serif. –  frabjous Feb 8 '11 at 17:36
    
@frabjous I am aware that it is not a sans serif font and that is why I mentioned subtle serifs. I consider it as the "missing link" between serifs and non-serifs. At 10pt the serifs are barely noticeable. –  Yiannis Lazarides Feb 8 '11 at 17:45
4  
I have the opposite attitude about this font. On the scale from "seriffy" to "non-seriffy", I'd put this on the extreme seriffy side. The reasons people prefer sans serif fonts in presentations is that the parts of each character is of a uniform width. The narrow serifs here make the width less uniform, not more, and I think this would be very hard to read in a presentation. My "middle ground" would be with something with fat serifs, so called "slab serifs" like Utopia or Charter, or something without serifs but with non-uniform widths, like Linux Biolinum. IMHO of course. –  frabjous Feb 8 '11 at 19:33
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Based on droid answer from @frabjous Thanks for the suggestion of Droid. I really like that font too. I wish it had a real italic though. Anyway, I've decided to do something naughty and combine the droid capitals with some of the arev symbol for math.

\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{arev}
\usepackage{droid}
\renewcommand*{\familydefault}{\sfdefault}
% steal commands to fix math capitals
%\usepackage[italic,endash]{mathastext}
\DeclareSymbolFont{arevfix}          {\encodingdefault}{\familydefault}{\seriesdefault}{\itdefault}
\SetSymbolFont{arevfix}{bold}        {\encodingdefault}{\familydefault}{\bfdefault}{\itdefault}
\DeclareMathSymbol{A}{\mathalpha}{arevfix}{`A}
...
\DeclareMathSymbol{Z}{\mathalpha}{arevfix}{`Z}
\usepackage{amsmath}

At large-ish sizes, arev is just a little bit bolder than droid, but they combine rather well. For math excepts in a presentation, they seem better matched than most presentations I see, and a few quick tests show most people don't find it objectionable (or really even notice). It isn't perfect, but it'd good enough for now.

This script is based on the comments here: http://www.charlietanksley.net/philtex/matching-math-fonts-to-text/ (Thanks again to @frabjous)

I decided not to use the full mathastext and only use the droid capitals for match and arev for lower-case math (to get the flowy i's and j's).

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This is an old question, but it's exactly the question I have today. I'm not sure if Droid now has a true italic, but it's worth noting Noto Sans:

Noto specimen

It is based on Droid, and there is a corresponding serif. Probably this is old news here, but the Noto project's "design goal is to achieve visual harmonization (e.g., compatible heights and stroke thicknesses) across languages", with planned coverage for "all living scripts in Unicode by the end of 2014". (Note 2,410 glyphs in the Font Squirrel version.)

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