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For our LaTeX templates, I'm looking for a font that is available in a standard installation of Microsoft Word on Windows (and, if possible, also OS X). Currently, we're using Times, but this seems to be a poor choice.

The reason for this is that we want to have our documents look similarly irrespective of the tools used to create them. The Word users shouldn't have to install any fonts. The font doesn't have to be completely identical, but comparable.

I know I can use XeLaTeX to import any TrueType/OpenType font I need, but I'm worried about math mode (which has to be available, too).

Which font combination for Word/LaTeX would you suggest to obtain similarly looking documents on both systems?

  • Palatino has a Microsoft rip-off called Book Antiqua. – ChrisS Oct 7 '14 at 7:22
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    there's no reason to dismiss Times New Roman. It's a masterpiece of early-20th-century type design, and can be used to obtain superb typography if used by skilled hands. If your choice of typefaces is as severely limited as in your case (a few other options come to mind but don't really warrant the mention), it'll be hands down one of the top-3 choices. The other two being Palatino, as mentioned by ChrisS (Tex Gyre Pagella package), and Matthew Carter's wonderful Georgia. PS: TeX Gyre Termes is the TeX package you may want to use for TNR. Use the corresponding Heros for a sans companion. – Nils L Oct 7 '14 at 7:37
  • @NilsL: Thanks. This would make a wonderful answer. Bonus points if you have font samples at hand ;-) – krlmlr Oct 7 '14 at 7:46
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    If the fonts in math should be similar too then you should use xelatex/lualatex together with unicode math and Cambria Math as imho this is the math font Word uses by default. – Ulrike Fischer Oct 7 '14 at 7:56
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    I just want to stress Ulrike's point here. If you want your documents to look the same in LaTeX and Word with math formulas, and, as it sounds like, without the Word user needing to worry or care much about the setup, then you have to be aware that MS Word uses a different font for math than for text. – Sverre Oct 7 '14 at 10:47
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There's no reason to dismiss Times New Roman that quickly. Yes, it has come to be associated with mediocre word processors and the typography that people produce with these. Still, it's a masterpiece of early-20th-century type design, and even its somewhat poorer renditions (as included with operating systems or TeX distributions) can be used to obtain superb typography if used with care (re: care, see below).

You say you don't want people to have to install additional fonts, and you may not even know what Windows version they're using, i.e. what palette they exactly have available. If your choice of typefaces is that severely limited (a few other options come to mind but don't really warrant the mention), TNR is going to be one of the top-three choices. The other two being Palatino (Tex Gyre Pagella package), as mentioned by ChrisS, if you're sure it's included with the Windows versions people are using, and Matthew Carter's wonderful Georgia. PS: TeX Gyre Termes is the TeX package you may want to use for TNR. Use the corresponding Heros for a sans companion. Someone else may have to elaborate on the math aspects. AFAIK, Termes can be used for math (to what degree?). Then there's the MathTime Pro fonts, etc.

enter image description here Linotype specimen, 1930s [?] note the two versions with different descender lengths.

enter image description here Wolf Wondratschek, »Oktober der Schweine«, 1973. Typography: Hans Peter Willberg.

Use what there is to the best advantage. If there is nothing for dinner but beans, one may hunt for an onion, some pepper, salt, cilantro and sour cream to enliven the dish, but it is generall no help to pretend that the beans are really prawns or chanterelles. When the only font available is Cheltenham or Times New Roman, the typographer must make the most of its virtues, limited though they may be. [...] set in modest sizes (better yet, in one size only) with the caps well spaced, the lines well leaded, and the lower case well fitted and modestly kerned. The line length should be optimal and the page impeccably proportioned. In short, the typography should be richly and superbly ordinary, so that attention is drawn to the quality of the composition, not to the individual letterforms.

Bringhurst, §6.2.3

  • It should IMHO be stressed that TNR is build for narrow columns or texts (like the pictured ones), not for the usually very long lines word produces. – Juri Robl Oct 7 '14 at 11:16
  • I have a rather recent version of Word. It allows me to define my line lengths myself. – Nils L Oct 7 '14 at 11:31
  • Yes it does, but unless Words line breaking got huge improvements in the last 2 Versions, short lines look like crap. Especially in languages with long words like German. Do you have a different experience? – Juri Robl Oct 7 '14 at 11:35
  • Yes I do. I think it's perfectly feasible nowadays to design, in Word, pages that (at least) don't suck. It does require some tactfulness though (see above), and the willingness to let go of the snobbery that one naturally develops as a spoiled TeX user after few years. – Nils L Oct 7 '14 at 11:58
  • PS: that's Word 2010, Times New Roman 12/18pt, DIV=9 page proportions. Would it look better in TeX? Obviously. Did anyone ever promise it wouldn't? Not really :) – Nils L Oct 7 '14 at 12:19

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