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I am trying to find a sans serif font that has unicode support (free or paid). The following works unless I set the family to sans by un-commenting the first line:

\documentclass[english]{article}

% \renewcommand{\familydefault}{\sfdefault}
\usepackage{fontspec}
\usepackage{polyglossia}
\usepackage{unicode-math}
\setmainfont{TeX Gyre Pagella}
\setmathfont{TeX Gyre Pagella Math}

\begin{document}
Greek Περὶ οὐρανοῦ
\end{document}

There is a related question here: Is there any sans-serif font that fully supports unicode-math? . But in contrast I do not need full math support (the math font could be from a different family).

  • 1
    What do you mean 'Unicode support'? The Unicode database lists a lot of code points and no one font covers all of them. – Joseph Wright Jan 27 '16 at 20:08
  • Well, at least the sample above should work. If there are any which do this then I can try it on my very long file. I found meanwhile by trial and error that Carlito works, but are there others which have a large degree of support, at least for Greek? – highsciguy Jan 27 '16 at 20:24
  • So 'a sans serif font that supports Latin and Greek characters'? If you are willing to pay that should be easy enough to do using e.g. the Adobe website – Joseph Wright Jan 27 '16 at 20:26
  • I could pay, but are there good free alternatives? – highsciguy Jan 27 '16 at 20:31
  • I’m puzzled by your talk of unicode math and your example which contains no math, but if polytonic Greek text is enough (I’m not a mathematician), Source Sans Pro is a good choice. – Thérèse Jan 27 '16 at 21:40
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For commercial fonts, many sites make you beg for information, even though one would expect salesmen to exhibit the opposite behavior. MyFonts supplies more information than most, allowing you to do an advanced search for fonts with Greek language support tagged “polytonic.” Both criteria are necessary, because searching for Greek in the “language support” field returns the many fonts supporting only modern Greek. Unfortunately, the tags reflect the discernment or lack thereof in the site’s users, which means that many polytonic fonts are not listed among the results.

For example, the search returns Figgins Sans and Pragmatica, but not Hypatia, which is an interesting sans serif with polytonic Greek and everything needed for proper transliteration of Semitic languages (very few fonts support that). P22 Underground Pro is another that should be listed but isn’t; it supports an extraordinary range of languages and comes in many weights but has no italic.

Be sure to examine the table of glyphs for the fonts listed when you search that site, because I have not found searches perfectly accurate. That’s true also for another kind of search you can perform on MyFonts: choose the field “available characters” in the advanced search form, and type or paste some uncommon character into the search box.

Among free fonts, Ralph Hancock’s Hyle is very attractive; it has no ligatures and you need to write a feature file to use its ligatures, but that’s easy in luatex. Aroania, like the Greek Font Society’s Neohellenic, is a revival of Scholderer’s New Hellenic, but based on Verdana. Source Sans Pro also supports polytonic Greek, as long as you get it in TeX Live or directly from Adobe, not as optimized for the web by Google. Also in TeX Live are DejaVu Sans, Fira Sans, Carlito, FreeSans, and Biolinum. The Ubuntu fonts and Lato (not the Lato in TeX Live, but the full version from the designer’s site) have broad support for languages. And the Noto fonts aim to support all scripts encoded by Unicode.

You may have other sans serif fonts that support Greek already on your system. At least on GNU/Linux, you can find them from the command line by typing fc-list :lang=el. You will then have to inspect them to see whether they support polytonic or only monotonic Greek.

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Your example left the sans serif family unchanged so the main font loading is not affecting the result once you uncomment the declaration to switch to sans serif. latin modern sans as you saw, does not cover this range.

TeX Gyre has a sans serif font Heros, but that drops the accented letters. But of the fonts I have easily to hand Arial and Sans Source Pro seem to cover your example, but you need \setsansfont

enter image description here

\documentclass[english]{article}

\renewcommand{\familydefault}{\sfdefault}
\usepackage{fontspec}
\usepackage{polyglossia}
\usepackage{unicode-math}
\setmainfont{TeX Gyre Pagella}

%\setsansfont{Arial}
\setsansfont{Source Sans Pro}


\begin{document}

Greek Περὶ οὐρανοῦ
\end{document}

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