How do I typeset an entire document in sans-serif, e.g. Helvetica, without littering the document with font changes for every heading/paragraph, etc.? Like in How to set the font for a \section title (and chapter etc), but with the paragraphs all in sans-serif.

For example, I've seen documents typeset in Computer Modern and then switched to Palatino, but can I do the same with Helvetica with a few commands at the beginning?

(And please don't tell me to use a serif font for body copy / paragraphs. I know. I'm trying to use latex to typeset my resume to look like the one I've created in a word processor, which is hard to maintain but looks good. I'm hoping latex will let me do more advanced formatting/layout, separating content from form.)

3 Answers 3


\renewcommand{\familydefault}{\sfdefault} will switch to using sans-serif for everything except mathematics. The sans-serif will be computer modern sans unless you also put \usepackage{helvet} in the preamble in order to make the default sans be Helvetica (or \usepackage{avant} for Avant-Garde, etc.

  • 4
    Usually yes, although it's possible that a particular distribution has been installed so that that isn't the default. For most standardly installed distributions, though, font embedding is enabled by default, AFAIK.
    – Alan Munn
    Jul 5, 2011 at 18:40
  • 6
    @Lev, Is there a package that does this automatically?, that is, without the ugly \renewcommand{\familydefault}{\sfdefault} code. (Nothing against it, but this is the kind of code makes me embarrassed to explain to newcomers)
    – alfC
    Mar 22, 2013 at 20:50
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    The command \usepackage{helvet} does not provide Helvetica font, but an Helvetica clone called Nimbus Sans L.
    – user34087
    Jul 24, 2013 at 8:09
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    @alfC: some packages (eg: sourcesanspro, cabin) provide an option. The LaTeX Font Catalogue will show this in the code example for most (but not all) packages.
    – Silke
    Jul 24, 2013 at 21:46
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    @alfC haha. ok ;) I definitely sympathise with the idea that TeX/LaTeX is the opposite of newbie-friendly (user-friendly, even). Jun 4, 2014 at 4:25

In ConTeXt you obviously use \setupbodyfont. This will not affect math mode.





enter image description here


The best way to have BOTH the text AND the math is just by adding:


in the preambule of the LaTeX document. It gives a nice and homogenous look to your document. Cheers!

  • 2
    cmbright is nice but in what sense it's the best solution?
    – lhf
    Feb 18, 2021 at 22:07
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    I believe it is, if you want both the text and the math to be without serif, which was the initial question :)
    – LeChat
    Feb 18, 2021 at 22:29
  • it seems that this font is not vectorized correctly, zooming in shows that the font is very pixelated? tex.stackexchange.com/questions/2095/… Nov 23, 2021 at 10:42
  • On my computer (another one from which I compiled the initial document I am checking cmbright on), I can zoom in 6400% with still no pixelation of the characters... To me, everything seems great so far. Have you tried another pdf viewer?
    – LeChat
    Mar 2 at 14:32

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