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I am trying to find a font that is readable at small sizes.
Basically I need to squeeze many things together in a small space. However I am unable to find much information available about what fonts are available for LaTeX that are good at this task.

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    I think the question requires clarification as it completely depends on your application. Some fonts that may be very readable at small sizes may not be of the right type. For example, there may be some monospaced font (that is very readable at small size) but you wouldn't want to use that for the running text. FWIW: Usually sans seriffed fonts require less horizontal space than seriffed fonts because they lack serifs. This is one of the reasons why some authors use them in captions.
    – user10274
    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:16
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a font selection but not using a specific font in TeX
    – percusse
    Oct 29, 2014 at 23:12

5 Answers 5

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You ask for a font that's usable with LaTeX, but nowadays that's any font in TrueType/OpenType format. Just use XeLaTeX or LuaLaTex, they are both perfectly capable of using those fonts, including font-specific variants.

There's one font I think is very legible at small sizes, because it's designed to be used in small print: Bell Centennial

Bell Centennial

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    Which is a commercial and not a free font.
    – percusse
    Oct 29, 2014 at 11:21
  • @percusse True, but the OP didn't ask for a free font in the question, or am I wrong? Oct 29, 2014 at 17:01
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    this is a marvelously legible font at small sizes, with no confusion between "Eye", "ell" and "one" or "Oh" and "zero". it is eminently suitable for catalogs and directories and well worth the investment, but there are absolutely no math facilities. Oct 29, 2014 at 19:10
  • Well I can go to myfont site and select the appropriate filters myself then no? What's the point of TeX then?
    – percusse
    Oct 29, 2014 at 23:02
  • @percusse I really don't understand your question about the point of TeX and its relevance to this answer about a font which should be legible at small sizes. Oct 29, 2014 at 23:09
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Bitstream Charter was developed for small resolutions and is not as weak as CMR or Latin Modern. Furtermore, Charter is supported by Latex, e.g. through xcharter or mathdesign. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitstream_Charter

ftp://ftp.fu-berlin.de/tex/CTAN/fonts/xcharter/doc/xcharter-doc.pdf

enter image description here
(source: ctan.org)

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  • That image is not from Charter but Times (like) font.
    – Manuel
    Oct 29, 2014 at 10:30
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    That font looks like Charter to me. Oct 29, 2014 at 15:55
  • The greek characters are not of Charter, at least they don't exist in the free font version of (Bitstream) Charter or XCharter. Oct 29, 2014 at 17:21
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    Ah, in the accompanying pdf one can see that the font used for Greek symbols is ‘Math Design’. Oct 29, 2014 at 17:26
  • Upon further inspection, the math doesn't look like Charter to me, but the other text does. I like this Math Font though Oct 30, 2014 at 23:04
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You can look at a few fonts at this catalog and then choose one. I, personally, think that Latin Modern, Paratype Sans Narrow, Roboto Light Condensed, etc, might be good for what you need. For all of them, once you click in the name of the font and go down the page, there's the link for the font page at CTAN, where you can make the download.

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  • That page doesn't say which fonts are scalable. Those are only the types.
    – percusse
    Oct 27, 2014 at 22:51
  • But shows what fonts are smaller than others, so that must help something, no?
    – Ivo Terek
    Oct 27, 2014 at 22:52
  • depends what OP wants.
    – percusse
    Oct 27, 2014 at 22:57
  • Ok, you won. If he says it doesn't help, I'll just erase it.
    – Ivo Terek
    Oct 27, 2014 at 23:04
  • No no, don't get me wrong, I think OP is trying to scale something like a table or similar. But you can use any system font via fontspec package using Xe- or LuaTeX engine.
    – percusse
    Oct 27, 2014 at 23:05
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Here are some good options that I found.

Computer Modern Bright

Roboto Light

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  • Won't these fonts get to thin when printed at small sizes? Oct 28, 2014 at 21:23
  • I used footnotesize and It was readable to me at those sizes. I wanted something was readable, but also wouldn't take up a lot of space. Oct 29, 2014 at 16:04
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To fill an area with as much letters as possible, you need a narrow running fonts, which is legible in small print. You'll find many narrow running fonts in the web.

But there are more factors: the solution of your printer, the paper, your eyes, the light.

If you can get things printed with a resolution of 2000 dpi on paper for scientific books, you'll be surprised what is still legible "ceteris paribus".

The usual printer with a solution of 1200 dpi at most is the limiting factor, IMO. So don't spent to much time and effort on the fonts.

I prefer serif fonts in small print and suggest to use Linux Libertine. There is a LaTeX package, probably you've already got it on your HD.

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