Is it possible to have OpenType fonts with LuaTeX using the plain format?

I have tried:

\font\test="texgyrepagellaregular"\test test\bye

but I get ! Font \test=texgyrepagellaregular not loadable: metric data not found or bad..

mtxrun --script fonts --list --all --pattern=pagella shows the above font name when I followed the instructions at http://wiki.contextgarden.net/Fonts_in_LuaTeX.

But on actually using the fonts, the page switches to speaking of ConTeXt instead of LuaTeX, which leaves me to wonder if it is possible to use OT-fonts with plain?


Even though this now works fine for fonts which are located in my home directory (OSX Lion, BasicTeX2012, luatex-plain-format constructed as instructed below), I am unable to use fonts which are located in the system directories. So while the above example works (with texgyrepagellaregular), as the mtxrun-script shows its location as ~/Library/Fonts, the following doesn't:


presumably because mtxrun shows its location as /Library/Fonts (the same issue seems to be with fonts inside /System/Library/Fonts).

Now, I added to my ~/.zshrc:

export OSFONTDIR=/System/Library/Fonts:/Library/Fonts:$OSFONTDIR

after which I was able to update the fonts database with mtxrun --script fonts --reload (following these instructions), and indeed now the mtxrun listing does show all of the fonts. It's just that luatex-plain doesn't see them.

How can I make luatex-plain see the fonts mtxrun sees?

  • 3
    mtxrun --script fonts --reload --simple (luatex-fonts uses its own, very simplistic font names database). Commented May 16, 2013 at 8:06
  • @phg: Awesome, that worked. Thank you very much! :)
    – morbusg
    Commented May 16, 2013 at 8:20

2 Answers 2


Let me add to the confusion a bit: there are actually two formats for running Plain with LuaTeX! One of them is the format that gets called when you run the command luatex from e.g. TeX Live; egreg already posted instructions for it in his answer.

There exists, however, another format called luatex-plain. Since it comes with the font loader built in, it has the advantage of being able to use OpenType fonts without additional packages. Here’s a demo (you’ll need the free Minion Pro fonts from Adobe for the second part):

\font\iwonaregular   =file:Iwona-Regular    at 12pt
\font\iwonaitalic    =file:Iwona-Italic     at 12pt
\font\iwonabold      =file:Iwona-Bold       at 12pt
\font\iwonabolditalic=file:Iwona-BoldItalic at 12pt

{\iwonaregular     foo}\par
{\iwonaitalic      bar}\par
{\iwonabold        baz}\par
{\iwonabolditalic  xyzzy}\par

\font\minionproliningfigures =file:MinionPro_Regular         at 12pt
\font\minionprotextfigures   =file:MinionPro_Regular:+onum;  at 12pt
\font\minionprosmallcaps     =file:MinionPro_Regular:+smcp;  at 12pt

{\minionproliningfigures  0123456789abcdef}\par
{\minionprotextfigures    0123456789abcdef}\par
{\minionprosmallcaps      0123456789abcdef}\par %% implicit +onum!


font definition demo

For more complicated examples see the test file.

luatex-plain is distributed with ConTeXt and available through TeX Live in the directory texmf-dist/tex/generic/context/luatex/. (Pro Tip: build the format and then symlink the luatex binary to luatex-plain, so you don’t have to specify the --fmt parameter.)

  • This is really nice to know, Thank you very much! If I'm reading this right, it also includes the mplib which then has everything I could hope for. Could you include what needs to be done to build the format and symlink?
    – morbusg
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 17:03
  • @morbusg Do you have Context installed or just TL? Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 18:17
  • Yes, I have ConTeXt installed.
    – morbusg
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 18:22
  • 3
    1. cd to $CONTEXTDIR/tex/texmf-context/tex/generic/context/luatex and issue luatex --ini ./luatex-plain.tex; 2. copy luatex-plain.fmt to $CONTEXTDIR/tex/texmf-linux-64/web2c/luatex/ (substitute your OS; also you may have to create that dir); 3. run $CONTEXTDIR/tex/texmf-linux-64/bin/mktexlsr; 4. ln -s `which luatex` ~/bin/luatex-plain; 5. ready! Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 18:36

LuaTeX has the same font support as pdfTeX, natively. However, using the right Lua code one can extend the font support, which is precisely the job of luaotfload.lua. The luaotfload.sty file can be loaded also with the Plain LuaTeX format.

Try compiling the following file with luatex (note that "Linux Libertine O" is in my system fonts, I used it just by way of example.

\input luaotfload.sty

\font\liber="Linux Libertine O/I=5:+smcp" at 12pt






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