I have adapted several PS Type 1 fonts for use with TeXLive. What I found out, is that only three types of font-files are needed, which are a .map-file, .tfm-files and .pfb-files.

However, at http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/macros/latex/required/psnfss Walter Schmidt writes that "The macro packages are useless without the font description (fd) files, virtual fonts (vf) and font metric (tfm) files for the font families used.", which would be his advice for the use of PS Type 1 fonts with LaTeX. But since the same tricks work so well without the .vf-files in Plain TeX, it seems to me that these files would not really be needed in LaTeX either. According to Donald Knuth and Tomas Rokicki, TeX needs only the .tfm-file to produce the .dvi-file, and dvips should then be able to do the rest. This agrees with my experience as well. By the way, I use the 'texnansi' encodement.


It depends what you want to do, vf files offer more features (essentially it allows each "character" to be a small fragment of dvi code) but if you do not want those features than they can be avoided of course.

In particular If you only use a map file and tfm you are (more or less) constrained to adapting the font by taking a subset of the available glyphs in some specified encoding order, and adding kerning information.

If you interface via a vf font you can do more, in particular you can use multiple real fonts and expose them as a single font, you can construct composite glyphs by using multiple glyphs from the font and you can add spacing to adjust sidebearings.

  • I'd like to add that I made my own tfm-files based upon the texnansi encoding, via an elaborate process, where first the command afm2tfm produced temporary (small) tfm-files, as well as vpl-files. The texnansi-encoding entered at this stage. After that the vptopvf command was used, and it produced the final (big) tfm-files, as well as vf-files. The latter were discarded, and the kerning worked just fine with the final big tfm-files. I believe the kerning was carried along from the afm-files. If you start out with only pfb- and afm-files the process works just perfectly. – user35145 Nov 4 '14 at 11:23
  • @user35145 sure, your comment just reiterates what I said, if you do not need any of the extra features then you don't need the vf files. But if you want to make a font that includes accented characters out of a pfb that doesn't have them (the original motivation for vf) then using vf is easier than modifying the font, and if you want to make a math font out of several text fonts, choosing different glyphs out of different fonts, adjusting the sidebearings, ... then again vf helps, if you are not doing those things then you may not need vf. – David Carlisle Nov 4 '14 at 11:54
  • @DavidCarlisle, if I am going to run only pdflatex to produce pdf is it necessary? – Sigur Nov 4 '16 at 23:13
  • @Sigur vf were developed for classic tex/pdftex not for extended texs such as luatex/xetex so I don't understand your question really. – David Carlisle Nov 4 '16 at 23:34
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    @Sigur well it's easy to see exactly which files are used by a document so you just need them. A single document presumably only uses a dozen or so fonts and the amount of space you'd save by avoiding that many vf really isn't worth the trouble a typical 8bit vf is only 2K or so. – David Carlisle Nov 4 '16 at 23:58

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