I'm trying to reproduce the layout of a certain book for a personal project. By now, I'm convinced that the body text of the book was created with the fourier package. I can recreate it exactly with these settings:


However, when I print my text, it doesn't look as good as the book. The book pages are lighter and more elegant. The image below shows two examples where the upper row is from my printer while the lower one is from the book. All four cutouts are from the same photo and the letters have the same size. (My apologies for the image quality, but this was the best I could manage with my cheapo cellphone.)


There are some obvious differences at this magnification like the left stroke of the "A" or the right stroke of the "v".

My questions is: Is this due to insufficient quality of my printer (this is a 600 dpi laser print) or do I see a difference because the book's publisher used the professional version of Adobe Utopia? [FWIW, this was printed from a PDF generated with pdflatex and pdffonts reports that all fonts are embedded.]

  • 2
    Did you try with erewhon?
    – Bernard
    Mar 17 at 18:37
  • No, I didn't. Does it change the glyphs of standard latin characters?
    – Frunobulax
    Mar 17 at 19:18
  • 1
    It is a clone of utopia, extending Heuristica,superior and inferior numbers, true small caps (including bold and italic), greek & cyrillic glyphs, and it exists in open type format. You might test whether it is closer to what you'd like.
    – Bernard
    Mar 17 at 19:24
  • @Bernard I tried it and the main text looks the same. However, it seems I'm supposed to use it with newtxmath and some math symbols like \leq look different. I think I ilke the fourier versions better.
    – Frunobulax
    Mar 17 at 20:45
  • 1
    As far as I remember, yes (it was before I retired).
    – Bernard
    Mar 17 at 21:23

It's unlikely that the "professional" version of Adobe Utopia makes a difference. For one thing, as far as I know, no such thing exists. Where there are "Pro" alternates of fonts in my experience, the difference has largely been in glyph coverage, e.g., Monotype Ehrhardt Pro includes characters like ż which are excluded from the non-pro Monotype Ehrhardt.

Resolution, on the other hand, probably does account for a big part of the difference, as does print technology. For professional printing, the imagesetter which will create the film¹ will have a resolution of at least 1200ppi and ca 2400ppi is probably standard. Laser toner on paper tends to have a lot of splat to make things darker (or sometimes lighter depending on whether the printer uses the laser to charge the parts of the page that should be black or charges the whole page and uses the laser to remove the charge from the parts of the page that should be white). With an imagesetter creating the film for making the plate, the film is exposed directly by the laser and so the only spread will come from the ink in the paper.

¹ It's been 20 years since I've purchased printing and I'm pretty sure that the use of a separate imagesetter to make film that's then used for plates is at best uncommon these days. This, however, means that it's likely that the distortions introduced from the additional step are even less likely to play a role. A cursory search on digital printing presses reveals that it seems like 2400ppi resolution is pretty much the standard.

  • In the case of Utopia: it is known that the version Adobe sells is different from the version donated to X Consortium and the TUG (upon which Fourier is built). However, I agree with you that this is likely not the reason for the observed difference. Mar 17 at 18:48
  • Yes, one of the reasons I asked this question is that the English Wikipedia page about Utopia says that the free software release has "quite thick stroke widths".
    – Frunobulax
    Mar 17 at 19:21
  • Ah, I wasn't aware of that, but that would also play a big role in the result.
    – Don Hosek
    Mar 17 at 19:22
  • @DonHosek While we're at it: Are POD books usually printed using laser printers or something similar? I know that the majority of Springer books are POD nowadays and I'm pretty sure they don't look as good as the one we're talking about here.
    – Frunobulax
    Mar 17 at 19:29
  • 1
    I don't really know. I imagine that for on-demand printing, something similar to laser-printing technology comes into play.
    – Don Hosek
    Mar 17 at 19:36

Regarding the conversation in the comments about POD books (and also kind of answering my question) I have extended my comparison from above. I managed to find the same words in a Springer POD book from 2019 of which I know that it was also typeset using LaTeX/fourier. The image also contains the output of LaTeX as viewed by SumatraPDF. I think this shows that the Hanser book is just pretty faithfully reproducing what's in the PDF while both my laser printer and Springer fail to do that. (I'm not an expert, but for the Springer book the problem seems to be the paper quality.)


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