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Now that Xe(La)TeX is being increasingly used to deliver nifty documents, I am wondering if any recommendations have been published or discussed about the best combination of font families for mixing Serif, Sans Serif, and Monospace.

For example, I know that Kieran Healy uses a nice combination of Minion Pro, Myriad Pro, and Pragmata (a LaTeX template is available at kjh-vita). Likewise, according to the American Association of University Presses, Minion, ITC New Baskerville and FF Scala & 4. FF Scala Sans are the top three best fonts, but see Top Typefaces Used by Book Design Winners. I have been playing myself with Apple Garamond, Fontin Sans and Menlo (Apple default monospaced font shipped with OS X 10.6), because all are available with any combination of \itshape and \bfseries (as described in The XeTeX Companion).

So my question is just: What would you recommend as pretty looking and freely available fonts for typesetting a TeX or LaTeX document? Ideally, this should allow to use mathematical expressions as well. (one response per post please)

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Unfortunately, most of the fonts you mentioned are kind of expensive and don’t ship with typical software. For example, while Baskerville is available on a lot of systems, ITC New Baskerville is not, and is substantially better. Among others, Baskerville is missing small caps and lining figures. – Konrad Rudolph Jan 23 '11 at 11:11
@Konrad Ah, but except for ITC Baskerville, Pragmata (might be replaced by Inconsolata), and fonts shipped with Apple OSs, other fonts are circulating on font-dedicated websites, aren't they? Anyway, the idea is just to see if anyone has experienced a good rendering with any three kind of font families, on any platform (I'm on a Mac, but it doesn't matter so much). – chl Jan 23 '11 at 11:56
@chl: what do you mean by “circulate on font-dedicated websites”? Not for free, surely (at least, not legally). For example, the whole Minion Pro font pack sells for $800 at Paratype.com, and FF Scala costs €490,00 at Fontshop.com. – Konrad Rudolph Jan 23 '11 at 13:26
@Konrad, chl: there is also the Minion/Myriad Pro that comes with Adobe Reader. It seems to support many of the features of the pro versions (but no optical sizes), and there is also a professional math font based on Minion Pro (unfortunately without OpenType math support yet). – Philipp Jan 23 '11 at 21:54
@Konrad: Look into the directory Adobe Reader.app/Contents/Resources/Resource/Font or similar (or search the Adobe Reader.app directory for *.otf files). You have to add the fonts manually to Font Book to use them, but the font files are there and usable. – Philipp Jan 24 '11 at 13:21

11 Answers 11

up vote 33 down vote accepted

I prefer a combination of Linux Libertine for serif, Inconsolata for monospace and Calibri or Linux Biolinum for sans serif. Linux Libertine is burgeoning and has nice ligatures, swashes and all that, including a rather pleasing swashed capital Q. Prior to Libertine, I favoured Cambria for serif, considering it unusual but professional, but eventually decided that its serifs were far too heavy. I also considered Cambria unsuitable from the outset as a maths font, to the point that back when I used Word 2007 I fell back on Microsoft Equation Editor 3.0 (i.e. the equation object available in Office) rather than the built-in equation editor. I'm not sure what font it uses but at the time I considered it nicer than maths set in CM.

Both Inconsolata and Consolas are top-notch monospace fonts.

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(+1) Excellent! Thanks for sharing your experience. (btw, I just found this post from J. Atwood on Consolas and ClearType‌​). – chl Jan 24 '11 at 9:30
@chl: That's very interesting - I am intrigued that Consolas seems to require subpixel smoothing to look even passable (Look at those glyphs in direct contact in IterationsNumericUpDown.Text!). Obviously this is moot for the printed word and for the majority of PDF viewers, however I know some people simply cannot handle ClearType and that would seem a deal-breaker. – Richard Terrett Jan 24 '11 at 9:41
Consolas was specifically designed for Clear Type. As for the fact that “some people simply cannot handle ClearType”, this suggests that their system is badly configured. I’m not sure if Windows 7 still requires careful calibration but under Windows XP at least that was very beneficial (required downloading an extra calibration software from Microsoft, IIRC). – Konrad Rudolph Jan 24 '11 at 11:54
@Konrad Rudolph - Apologies, I was unclear: what I meant is that I have encountered some people who do not like ClearType at all (and by extension, potentially other subpixel smoothing codes). As such they would have to contend with the bad spacing and aliasing on Consolas, where its optimisation for ClearType would surely be cold comfort. – Richard Terrett Jan 24 '11 at 12:16
Unfortunately, the libertine package doesn't have proper italic correction... – Seamus Aug 14 '11 at 12:04

Palatino, Bera, and AMS Euler

I have really been enjoying AMS Euler as a math font lately. If you need completely free fonts, then I think that Palatino + Euler + Bera Serif/Sans/Mono for code, etc. is a pretty workable combination. (This is essentially the default combination used by the ClassicThesis package.) Both Palatino and Euler were designed by Hermann Zapf and work quite well together.

This combination can be used in almost any LaTeX installation, making it a viable combination for the arXiv for example. One must be a little careful to scale the Bera to match the x-height of the Palatino though, or it looks quite strange, but once this is adjusted, the combination looks quite reasonable. (Palatino Sans would probably be the best match, but is not "free".)

Sample of Palatino with Euler and Bera




\section{Palatino and Bera with Euler}
This style use Palatino for a body font, with $AMS\ Euler$ font for math: $y =
  y = \int_0^x\cos(x)\,\mathrm{d}{x} = \frac{e^{\I x} - e^{-\I x}}{2\I}
Both fonts were designed by Hermann Zapf and work quite well together
as long as you use the small characters --
\lstinline|\usepackage[small,euler-digits]{eulervm}|.  Code listings, etc. can
be typeset with \texttt{Bera Mono} to give it a slightly different feel.  Again:
you must be careful to scale this appropriately --
\lstinline|\usepackage[scaled=0.88]{beraserif}| and
\lstinline|\usepackage[scaled=0.85]{berasans}|, and

  I sometimes use Bera Sans for extended admonitions like this one so that they
  can quickly be separated from the text.

share|improve this answer
(+1) Great! I tend to use Inconsolata when typesetting code snippet, but the Bera font looks nice with Palatino once it is x-scaled. – chl May 14 '13 at 10:02
@chl Inconsolata works quite will too if scaled slightly \usepackage[scaled=1.03]{inconsolata}. – mforbes May 14 '13 at 20:41
(+1) For the code with your answer ! – Colas Oct 12 '13 at 9:05

The Google Font Directory is worth browsing. It’s targeted at web authors but many (all? didn’t check) of the fonts found there are published under SIL license and thus can be used in other projects as well.

One font (also found there) that I really like is Vollkorn which has a nice, rounded, distinctive look that is still very readable.

Vollkorn type face specimen

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(+1) Thanks. This is really useful, and this font looks splendid! – chl Jan 23 '11 at 17:24
+1 I agree Vollkorn is one of the top free (as in free speech) fonts, probably at least on par with Libertine. – Philipp Jan 24 '11 at 13:19
@Philipp: if it only weren’t missing small caps (planned but not yet released). Unfortunately, I use them for abbreviations in my thesis. :-( – Konrad Rudolph Jan 24 '11 at 14:47
The link is now dead. It should be google.com/fonts . – chryss May 13 '13 at 14:51
Ouh yeah. Vollkorn is one of my favourite Fonts. – Ronny May 14 '13 at 5:31

I'm strictly an amateur in this department ... If you don't want to buy PragmataPro (which I love, and for me was worth buying because I use it as my default text-editing font), Bera Mono is also quite nice and it comes with texlive. Consolas/Inconsolata is great as well, as you say. Myriad Pro used to come bundled with Adobe Reader (I'm not sure about the current version). For body text, Charis SIL is a good, free descendant of Bitstream Charter. Super-complete sets from big foundries are indeed often extremely pricey, but there's also a market segment -- something like, e.g., Calluna -- where the fonts are more reasonably priced and work very well if your document is not extremely complicated in its structure. As you say, though, if you want to typeset any amount of math your choices narrow down quickly.

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Incidentally, I had wanted to add this as a comment rather than an answer, as I'm not sure it's really an answer, but couldn't see how to do that. Do only mods and the original author get to comment on questions in this way? – Kieran Jan 23 '11 at 14:16
No, but you need a minimum of 50 reputation for comments (see the FAQ). – lockstep Jan 23 '11 at 14:21
(+1) Thanks for your extended comment, anyway. This is helpful. Yes, I'm afraid that when it comes to typesetting math choices are very limited. – chl Jan 23 '11 at 16:03
Calluna and Euler seem to work quite well together. I have been using Calluna Sans with Calluna for titles and Euler for math in presentations. – mforbes May 14 '13 at 4:33

My university recommends the Microsoft family: Cambria for serif, Calibri for sans, Cambria Math for math, and Consolas for monospace. They all came with my Mac. I'm not sure that the university's recommendation is the most informed one, but those are designed to go together.

To see these in a sample document, insert the following into your preamble

\setmathrm{Cambria Math}

(and use XeTeX.)

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+1 Although I'm clearly not the best supporter for MS products, I assume there're some reasons for such a combination. I guess they came with Microsoft Office? Does a LaTeX document processed through xelatex (e.g., sample2e.tex) look cool or not? – chl Jan 23 '11 at 19:53
Cambria is the only professional font to have a matching math family (Cambria Math) that can be used for OpenType math typesetting. So this recommendation is definitely reasonable. The new (C…) Microsoft fonts are generally hailed as being well-designed and readable on both screen and paper. In fact, I plan to use that exact combination for my thesis, and I've written a small (unsupported and unreleased) package to automatically select the fonts and enable micro-typography. – Philipp Jan 23 '11 at 21:51
@chl: I don't know if cool is the right word but it is pretty. And you're probably right that they came with Office rather than with the Mac. – Matthew Leingang Jan 24 '11 at 0:54
They also come with Windows Vista and 7, and probably with other MS products. – Philipp Jan 24 '11 at 9:29
+1 for also telling how to actually change to use the fonts. – morbusg Jan 24 '11 at 10:42

Minion and Myriad always come with Acrobat Reader, for free, and can be downloaded as a font pack for Linux or found at C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Reader 10.0\Resource\Font or some similar directory structure on Windows. If you ever install other Adobe products, even as a trial, you might have even more choices.

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Are you sure you're absolutely free to use them for any purpose? This software does come with a bunch of licenses, even though it doesn't cost any money. If you're talking about these fonts already, you should probably also mention Courier, which is in the same directory. – doncherry Sep 14 '12 at 4:22
I think you can use the fonts that come with Acrobat Reader for any purpose (but not modify the fonts themselves). See: typophile.com/node/14079 or the Reader EULA. – Joseph Sep 14 '12 at 23:43
brilliant! How many people knew this? – enthdegree Sep 24 '12 at 3:11

There's a nice, well-thought-out, apposite link here, though it doesn't adhere to the serif, sans, mono schema: http://laymanslayout.wordpress.com/freefacing/

Edit: After several hours of searching, I think Linux Libertine and Linux Biolinum is the safest, most convenient combination for Linux users. They look good together, and you get ligatures, small caps, etc. I tried to find something that would work well with LidoSTF, and Cabin almost fit the bill, but something seemed off. In any case, Libertine has more features than Lido, and is GPL.

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I like Courier (note: not Courier New!) for mono, Marion for roman, and Cambria Math for math. They are a bit different weight, but scaling to x-height helps. Unfortunately, it should be mentioned, Marion lacks smallcaps.

\setmathfont[Scale=MatchLowercase]{Cambria Math}
A number $n>1$ is prime if it cannot be written as a product of two integers $a$ and~$b$, both of which are larger than~$1$: \[
  n = a \cdot b.

Here, have a \verb|primes| stream:
(define (sieve s)
    (head s)
    (sieve (filter
            (lambda (x)
                (divisible? x (head s))))
            (tail s)))))

(define primes
  (sieve (integers-from 2)))

It looks like this:

enter image description here

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(+1) Thanks, I didn't know about Marion font. – chl May 14 '13 at 9:58

Here is the combination I'm using for my thesis:

  • Serif: TeX Gyre Pagella
  • Math: TeX Gyre Pagella Math
  • Sans: URW Classico
  • Greek Sans: Segoe UI
  • Monospace: Lucida Sans Typewriter

Since I wanted to have the same font (family) for math and running text, I chose Pagella as the main font from the little list of choice. URW Classico is a Optima clone and can be downloaded for free in some URW bundles. It fits very well to Palatino (clones). Infact it works too well in the running text, hence you cannot use it as emphasis. But I only used it for the chapter title and the figure text. In the figures I also needed sometimes greek letters. The URW Classico has only two or three of them and they look really ugly. Therefor I used Segoe UI for the greek sans alphabet. I took Lucida Sans Typewriter, because it has the typewriter character some monospace fonts are missing. On the other hand it does not look too thin and wide as Courier New in my eyes.

enter image description here

Example code:

% !TeX program=xelatex
% !TeX encoding=UTF-8
\documentclass[a5paper, 10pt]{scrartcl}

% Font
% Roman
\setmainfont[Ligatures=TeX, Numbers=OldStyle,
    SmallCapsFeatures={LetterSpace=10, WordSpace={1.5}}]{TeX Gyre Pagella}
% Math
\setmathfont[math-style=ISO, bold-style=ISO]{TeX Gyre Pagella Math}
% put limits over the integral
% cramped style for inline math
% (only works with lualatex)
% Sans
% Monospace
\setmonofont[Scale=MatchLowercase]{Lucida Sans Typewriter}
% used for tables

% Sans mu and Omega
\newfontfamily\mufont[Scale=MatchLowercase]{Segoe UI}
\def\sansmu{{\mufont µ}}
\def\sansOmega{{\mufont Ω}}



    Here is some random text that should present the font combination
    of \TeX{} Gyre Pagella for the running text, \TeX{} Gyre Pagella Math for
    math, URW Classico for sans text and Lucida Sans Typewriter. Here is a
    small math example:
        \int_{0}^{\infty} \mathup{e}^{-\frac12 t^2}\operatorname{d}\! t = \sqrt{\frac{\pi}{2}}\text{.}
    Next, we take a look on some \textsf{sans words}. As you can see, the sans font fits very well, too well if you want to use it to emphasize text.
    And finally a small example for the mono spaced font:
    \url{someone@stackexchange.com} is an email address. Probably no one will answer.

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I think it is nice except the sans font. The size and the weight doesn't match the serif. – percusse Jan 25 '15 at 23:05
@percusse, I do not use the sans font in the running text. And as a display font or for the figures it really works well. – quinmars Jan 25 '15 at 23:22

How about the Lucida family? It is not free, but very nice.

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Do you have a link that one can follow to view the fonts? How would you create a document that uses the Lucida family? Please elaborate on your current suggestion. – Werner Dec 23 '11 at 6:26
Samples of these fonts can be found at pctex.com/Lucida_Fonts.html complete documentation on how to use them comes with the fonts – Per Dec 23 '11 at 19:28
TUG members get a discount on Lucida fonts: tug.org/store/lucida/index.html – Torbjørn T. Dec 23 '11 at 20:56
The Lucida OpenType fonts have been released today. They are available from the TUG Store (same link as above). – Ulrik Vieth Mar 16 '12 at 19:48

Arkandis Digital Foundry offers a range of free font families. Some have LaTeX support packages for type1 and/or opentype versions; others could be used in the same way as other truetype/opentype fonts.

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