I'd like to use LaTeX to format an NSF proposal, but am nervous about the differences in fonts between standard LaTeX tools and the NSF Guidelines. The guidelines state:

Use one of the following typefaces identified below: Arial, Courier New, or Palatino Linotype at a font size of 10 points or larger Times New Roman at a font size of 11 points or larger; or Computer Modern family of fonts at a font size of 11 points or larger.

Does anybody know how these constraints translate for purposes of LaTeX formatting? In particular, I'd like to know what range of typesetting options are permissible for meeting their page requirements.

  • Use XeTeX engine: it allows to use system-wide fonts, like Times, Arial etc.
    – m0nhawk
    Nov 25, 2013 at 14:16
  • The default font for LaTeX is Computer Modern. To get the point size, specify either \documenclass[11pt]{<classname>} or \documentclass[12pt]{<classname>}.
    – A.Ellett
    Nov 25, 2013 at 14:17
  • I believe those guidelines were actually modified in part due to outrage over the first version which was almost impossible to adhere to in TeX. As A.Ellett said, CM is default. To make sure you get outline (not bitmap) fonts, use \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} in your preamble. Provided you have a reasonably sane installation, this will get you type 1 versions of the CM fonts which is almost certainly what you want.
    – cfr
    Nov 28, 2013 at 4:28

2 Answers 2


Thankfully NSF proposal guidelines are quite minimal. I use article class with geometry to set the margins and titlesec to make all the headings smaller. . I do use XeLaTeX though, to avoid any issue with fonts. Since Fastlane has extensive PDF generation and checking facilities it might actually be able to check for fonts, but I've never tried.


Computer Modern comes with every TeX distribution under the sun. That said, would they really reject a proposal because it was formatted in Helvetica (which most people wouldn't be able to tell from Arial anyway) or URW Palladio (A Palatino clone)?

  • URW Palladio is Palatino by none but Zapf himself, it id not a clone. Nov 25, 2013 at 15:53
  • Sadly, yes, grant proposals get rejected on the flimsiest of technical details even before they reach the reviewing stage. Sep 24, 2014 at 20:24

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