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In ConTeXt, one can define a font synonym, as shown in this simple typescript example at the ConTeXt Wiki. In following the example given, I cannot see any way to access the individual levels. I can use {\nimbus This is some text.} or texcommand=\nimus to set the font to Nimbus, but {\Sans This is some text.} and \textcommand=\Sans, does not let me access the font. This becomes a problem, as, if I need to change the font within the document, instead of changing Sans to the new font, I must instead rename all appearances of \nimbus throughout my source files.

  • Why is definefontsynonym used?
  • Why do options like \Sans and \SansBold fail to work in the same way that \nimubs does?
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Use \sans and \sansbold or sans as style option instead of the capital versions. If your font is really called Nimubs \nimubs should work, otherwise \nimbus will do the trick. –  Marco May 11 '12 at 12:06
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The \nimbus command is not a font synonym at all, it is a typeface switcher, resulting from the first \definetypeface in the example. As you discovered, actual font synonyms cannot be accessed as commands.

So why are font synonyms good? Because the typescript internals are set up such that they use names like Sans and SerifBold instead of literal font names. That replacement in the internals allowed various macros to be combined into shorter code while at the same time allowing extra flexibility. If you want further details, reading the fonts chapter in the reference manual or buying the book will help.

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