I was trying to use Xfig software to draw pictures, but I am running into trouble in the following cases. I have three really quick and technical questions:

  1. I see there are options for drawing an arc and specifying three points on the arc, but where is the option for drawing a straight line? (I need to draw an arrow pointing downwards).

  2. Where it says you can draw the circles/ellipses, I can only draw circles, no ellipses. How can I draw ellipses?

  3. In the option where you can insert text in a diagrams, I can only insert English text, but can we insert Greek text like \gamma, \delta etc ?

  • I've moved the thanks (just the style here). In addition, I've fixed your enumerated list. To see how I did it, take a look at the markup code. I've also altered the title a bit. Anyone interested in this question will already know what Xfig is. If you disagree, please feel free to change the title back. Do note however that you should not put space between brackets and the text that they enclose (do it like this).
    – qubyte
    May 15, 2012 at 15:48
  • Okay, thanks Mark, I will observe the corrections.
    – Mathmath
    May 15, 2012 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


Straight line (segments) are drawn with the 'polyline' tool. Click on this tool, move the mouse pointer over the drawing canvas and observe what the help window on the top right corner tells you about using the mouse buttons. The same applies to the circle/ellipse (and any other) tool.

In order to have TeX formatted text, 'Text Flags'-->'Special Flag' (tool bar at the bottom) must be set to 'Special'. Math formulae have to be entered as usual, e. g. $\gamma$. Moreover, you will have to export your finalized graphic into a TeX related format. I prefer 'Combined PS/PDF/LaTeX'. You \input the LaTeX part into your paper. The LaTeX part uses \includegraphics to overlay the text onto the (text free) vector graphics.

  • Thanks Alex, there is a problem I faced with this tool ( and also interpolated spline tool ) before, which is when I draw a straight line ( or an interpolated curve ), I cannot stop drawing after I get what I want; i.e., suppose I draw a straight line, or a polygon, but then the cursor keeps drawing , even if I click on the 'final point' button, I cannot stop , except when I right click, which erases the whole drawing :( The same thing happens for interpolated spline drawing. How can I stop drawing after I get my desired figure ?
    – Mathmath
    May 15, 2012 at 15:51
  • The above doesn't happen when I use the 'arc drawing ' tool, it draws the arc passing through the three points and then stops.
    – Mathmath
    May 15, 2012 at 16:01
  • 1
    @Mathmath: If your middle mouse button does not work your X11 setup must be wrong. Does the middle button work in other context, such as inserting selected text into an xterm? The arc tool works, because the final point is set with the left mouse button. Your X11 setup is definitely wrong.
    – AlexG
    May 16, 2012 at 6:43

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