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Say I use a font "foo" in my TeX document.

\setmainfont{foo}

This font is not free or not widely available on other systems. Will my PDF document will look same in other computers where this font is not available / installed? And if not what can I do about it to make sure that it looks same in other computers?

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  • I think texlive 2009 and newer and miktex 2.8 should have embedded fonts by default so they pdf should render the same on all computers. But you might want an expert confirming this.
    – Philipp
    Nov 17, 2015 at 13:59
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    technically you can embed the fonts in the pdf so the pdf works anywhere, but the licence conditions on the font may say that you may not embed, or may not distribute a document with the font embedded. Nov 17, 2015 at 14:07
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    Most commercial licenses allow embedding only a subset of the glyphs, the glyphs needed for the text of a document. A few forbid any embedding at all, which makes the fonts useful for printing on paper, but not for viewing on screen by those without a license. Read each foundry’s license before buying. Boring for non-lawyers, but necessary.
    – Thérèse
    Nov 17, 2015 at 16:53
  • @Thérèse I've never seen such a license by a commercial foundry for a fonts sold as data.
    – Keks Dose
    Nov 17, 2015 at 17:11
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    @KeksDose Read Font Bureau’s license to see one of the more restrictive licences. Then contrast Canada Type’s license, which allows much more.
    – Thérèse
    Nov 17, 2015 at 17:12

2 Answers 2

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Fonts are embedded by default when you compile TeX to PDF. To be sure, you may wish to upload your PDF to a cloud, say, GoogleDrive (free) and see, how it looks there in another previewer.

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I'm not an expert on PDF, but the whole idea of PDF in opposite to Word is that the viewer displays the same picture and the printer prints the same glyphs on the paper.

Well, more or less. It obviously does not depend on the installation of fonts on the computer you use to display the PDF, but there are differences even between different viewers on the same computer. Compare the display of a PDF by Adobe's Reader and DocView (Emacs!). For an example see here: Why do fonts look thinner in adobe and different and richer in sumatra pdf

And think of the properties of the printer. Or: A printout from a dot matrix printer will look completely different from a ink printer. Even laser printer produce very different output.

tl;dr: Your PDF will look quite similar, independently from installed fonts.


Edit:

There seems to be a misunderstanding about the license of commercial fonts. Of course you can use a fonts you bought to produce a PDF. The company which sold the fonts to you has no whatever rights on your PDF! Selling fonts includes the fair use of making a PDF. And making a PDF means that all the needed glyphs become part of the PDF. (I am a lawyer! OK, only in Germany.)

It is something different, if you embedd by using attachfile, embeddfile or whatever the *.ttf or *.otf file itself -- this might not be legal!


Edit 2:

There are companies which try to limit the use of sold fonts to a PDF with a circulation of one hundred copies, e.g. the Font Bureau in Florida (thank you, Thérèse). I read the license agreement of some of the fonts I bought and there is no limitation for a PDF, but the lincense of Linotype says:

»Embedding of the Font Software into electronic documents or Internet pages is only permitted under the absolute assur- ance that the recipient cannot use the Font Software to edit or create a new document (read-only). It must be ensured that the Font Software cannot be fully or partially extracted from said documents.«

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    "It obviously does not depend on the installation of fonts on the computer you use to display the PDF" did you mean "does" there rather than "does not" ?? Nov 17, 2015 at 15:32
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    the pdf will be independent of the installed font only if the fonts used are embedded in the pdf, which, for a commercial font as in the question, may (or may not) be allowed. Nov 17, 2015 at 15:35
  • @DavidCarlisle Technically, by the way, the glyphs are embedded in the PDF, at least that's what I know. Download a chinese pdf from a paper in Hongkong: without having the fonts on your computer, you will see the writing.
    – Keks Dose
    Nov 17, 2015 at 16:17
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    see for example this (first answer google showed up) graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/41751/… Nov 17, 2015 at 16:28
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    TrueType and OpenType have embedding information in their file headers. This information is set by the font maker, and comprises (among others) "fully embed", "embed subsetted", "no embedding". Well-behaving PDF making software does honor this information. Now, if you have a font which does not allow embedding (not even subsetted), and the font maker does not provide you a version which allows this, dump the font and get a font which allows embedding.
    – Max Wyss
    Nov 17, 2015 at 18:43

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