Embarrassing question, but I usually focus completely on layout and don't bother to mess with the font, except when I'm really feeling experimental and use libertine...

Anyway, what is the best way to have full control over a modern font family, like Helvetica neue, and be able to shift between, say, ultrialightweight and normal, at any size?

Is there any way to say \font{helvetica}{ultralight}{48pt} or something?

I'm sorry if this is a duplicate or bad question, but fonts in LaTeX are just something I've never understood.

Should I be looking into learning to use XeTeX or something, instead?

  • See also the posting First steps with LuaLaTeX and ttf fonts. The answers to that posting deal specifically with how to go about shifting between font weights of a "font superfamily" -- such as Helvetica (Neue) -- which features lots of font weights, not just "regular" and "bold". – Mico Jan 18 '15 at 11:49

I don't know which is the best way, but with XeLaTeX or LuaLateX the fontspec package allows you to simply do that.

For example, if your document has 12pt using Scale=4 as in

\fontspec{Helvetica Light}[Scale=4]

should give you what you want.






This is a very {\fontspec{Helvetica Light}[Scale=4] big} word



enter image description here

P.S. If you have an old version of fontspec the syntax

\fontspec{Helvetica Light}[Scale=4]

might not work. In this case use the old syntax

\fontspec[Scale=4]{Helvetica Light}
  • Now the syntax is \fontspec{Helvetica}[Scale=4]. – Manuel Jan 18 '15 at 10:14
  • @Manuel - Both syntactic forms are OK. – Mico Jan 18 '15 at 10:24
  • @Mico They both work now, but in the future the one I used is the one planned, or am I wrong? – Manuel Jan 18 '15 at 10:34
  • @manuel - I can offer no special insights into the plans of the authors/maintainers of the fontspec package. All I know is that should the older syntactical form no longer be valid at some point in the future, lots and lots and lots of documents will no longer compile correctly. As such, I certainly hope that both syntactical forms will remain valid. – Mico Jan 18 '15 at 10:38
  • 1
    @Ryan I don't think you'll have any problems switching to XeLaTeX, but only benefits (for example you can use any installed font in your document)... Anyway see this great answer of Joseph Wright for more info about the differences: tex.stackexchange.com/a/222300/27635 – karlkoeller Jan 18 '15 at 16:05

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