There are quite a few modern sans-serif humanist fonts, slab-serif fonts and other interesting Google web fonts. How do we typeset in LaTeX/PDFTeX/LuaTeX/XeTeX using them? Is there a way in TeX to call fonts like the Google fonts directly from their CDN URI? Are there any packages like Michael Sharpe's package that covers these modern fonts?

  • I always see books with sans-serif headings like Helvetica and serif text. The serif develops problems at the edges in small point size, unlike serif. Wondering if there is problem with doing it the other ways around, which seems to me to be a better idea. It is also a trick by which you make serif stand out among ordinary sans-serifs.
    – Sukii
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 2:41
  • The problems of matching sans-serif text with math fonts, is it still a problem? see tex.stackexchange.com/questions/39827/…
    – Sukii
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 3:42

1 Answer 1


This answer originally addressed the original question which is not the current question.

Please note that I am not deleting somebody else's answer by substituting this one. (I'm deleting my own answer by substituting this one.)

The answer to the current question is that there is nothing special about sans or humanist fonts. You typeset with them the way you typeset with any font.

As it stands, the question is extremely broad. The very short answer would be:

LaTeX, pdfLaTeX: you need to create or acquire suitable support files. These include .tfm files, .map fragments, .fd files, possibly .vf files and preferably .sty files. In general, creating these is not a trivial matter. Creating them in a way which makes the most of the fonts supported is still less trivial. These engines can use metafont (.mf) and type1 (.pfb) fonts without the need to convert. pdfLaTeX can also use truetype fonts without conversion. Again, if the support files are there. The fonts on their own are of no use.

XeLaTeX, LuaLaTeX: you can use traditional TeX fonts as explained above or any font in a suitable format available to your system. In particular, opentype fonts can be used directly and fontspec allows you to access feature sets provided by those fonts.

I know of no way to feed TeX a URL and have it use fonts. You could, I guess, have it download the font to the current directory via shell-escape and then use it directly with fontspec. But you can't use it remotely unless your OS is able to use the remote fonts. (If they were available from a remote machine mounted as a local directory and integrated into your OS, you could. But that is not what you are asking. In that case, you'd have installed the fonts - they would just happen to be files non-locally hosted.)

There are various packages supporting modern fonts. Quite a lot considering the amount of work involved, I think. The TeX Font Catalogue is the place to start if you want traditional LaTeX packages for use with (pdf)LaTeX. Otherwise, you either need to create the support yourself or use XeLaTeX/LuaLaTeX with fontspec.

But none of this has anything to do with the use of sans or humanist faces. It is just the standard stuff about using fonts. Complex, maybe, but widely documented on this site and elsewhere.

If your document contains maths, you would really need a suitable opentype font, I think. Where suitable means the maths stuff is enabled - it isn't enough that it provides the characters. You need the maths table set up correctly. Then you could use unicode-math. Otherwise, there is limited support for sans maths but it is, so to speak, limited.

And still: typesetting chunks of text in sans is a bad idea. You should use a serif.


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