Both the packages tgpagella and mathpazo (with "sc"-option) provide the font Palladio with true small-caps. tgpagella additionally offers a bold small-cap font. Yet when comparing the normal small-caps, I realized that there is a noticeable difference between the small-caps: those of tgpagella are smaller (see MWE).

(1) Which of the small-caps versions is objectively better? What is the criterion?

(2) What would you prefer?

(3) Suppose one decides that mathpazo provides superior small-caps. As this package does not have bold small-caps (which I need for two section-titles), would you consider the section title in my MWE an acceptable work-around? (This results in using pplx for regular text and qpl for the mentioned titles)

(I use eulervm for equations, so the math font of mathpazo is not required.)




% here you can see the difference of the two small-cap types
An arbitrary \fontfamily{qpl}\selectfont \textsc{Acronym} and some text. \par
An arbitrary \fontfamily{pplx}\selectfont \textsc{Acronym} and some text. \par
\fontfamily{qpl}\selectfont \textsc{Acronym}
\fontfamily{pplx}\selectfont \textsc{Acronym}

% my work-around with 'qpl' for titles and 'pplx' for normal text
\section{Arbitrary \textsc{Acronym}}
An arbitrary \textsc{Acronym} and some text. \par

  • I've noticed the difference in the size and appearance of the small-caps between the mathpazo and tgpagella packages as well. To my eye (warning: I'm not a trained font designer, so this may not be a correct "view"!!), I'd say the small-caps of the tgpagella package are reduced-size versions (they're so small, maybe they should be called petite-caps!) of the ordinary capital letters, whereas those of the mathpazo package were designed directly for that size. However, as you've further noted, there is no bold-smallcaps font for mathapazo, so the choice there is simple...
    – Mico
    Jun 28, 2012 at 11:11
  • Yeah, I noticed the somewhat thicker lines, too. But it doesn't look to me as if the small/petite caps were fake.
    – Christian
    Jun 28, 2012 at 11:25
  • @Mico - I think the small/petite caps of tgpagella are not just scaled down (although I'm not 100% sure if we mean the same thing with "scaling"). Here is my comparison: \fontfamily{qpl}\selectfont \textsc{a}\scalebox{0.65}{A}
    – NauC
    Jun 28, 2012 at 14:08

3 Answers 3


I prefer the first variant (qpl). The kerning looks better to me. Both are very similar though so mixing to get bold shouldn't be a problem IMHO.

To illustrate, look at how the "O" is placed in both cases. In the first line, it sits comfortably in the empty spaces of both the "R" and the "N". In the second line, the "R" ends, then the "O" begins, and only after it comes the "N". There doesn't seem to be any kerning whatsoever:


Edit: Well, I just had a second look and actually the bounding boxes of the letters of neither of the two examples overlap. But the visual impression is still better with qpl for me since the other font actually adds space where IMHO none belongs.

  • I might also add that a little bit of tracking is considered a good thing for small caps. I still don't like it here. I think it all comes down to opinions though.
    – Christian
    Jun 28, 2012 at 11:27
  • Your impression might be influenced by the shape of the small-caps. I didn't measure it, but I think the tgpagella small-caps have broader proportions (easily seen at the 'O'). Nevertheless I see your point.
    – NauC
    Jun 28, 2012 at 14:36

what you compare is tgpagella and palatino. The package mathpazo chooses only an additional math font, which should also be done for the tgpagella.

If you run xelatex or lualatex then you can load the OpenType math font TGPagella Math which is much better than using mathpazo. However, I would use Pagella anyway.

\usepackage{unicode-math}% run with xelatex
  • Thanks for your reply, Herbert. I don't quite understand your first sentence, as I thought that tgpagella loads Pagella while mathpazo loads Palladio (plus math, I know). Could you maybe elaborate on why TGPagella Math is better than mathpazo for equations? I was quite content with mathpazo and in case of this question I merely wanted to know which font provides better small-caps.
    – NauC
    Aug 28, 2012 at 17:03
  • 1
    there is no other free math font for Palatino than Pagella Math. mathpazo loads the math symbols from PazoMath, CM and amsfonts.
    – user2478
    Aug 28, 2012 at 17:44
  • 1
    Just my story... I tried TGPagella Math first and didn't like the fancy math at all, in particular for \mathcal. But I couldn't use the standard math font either because it doesn't fit in with Palatino (most noticeable the different comma). Today I discovered mathpazo and am absolutely pleased with it!
    – letmaik
    Oct 20, 2012 at 15:29
  • 1
    using the OpenType math font "TeX Gyre Pagella Math" makes more sense than mathpazo
    – user2478
    Oct 21, 2012 at 9:28
  • 1
    With the sc option used, mathpazo does more than loading an additional math font. It switches from fontfamily ppl to pplx, which has different metrics and real small caps in the regular shape. These are taken from the FPL fonts, but the Palatino SC font can also be used. Apr 13, 2019 at 20:23

Warning: I am probably biased since I authored the FPL fonts used by mathpazo.

One design decision for the FPL fonts was to be metric compatible with the Palatino SC and OsF fonts provided by Adobe. This fixed both the glyph width as well as the bonding box for each glyph. In particular this meant that the SC glyphs are a bit larger than lower case letters without ascenders (x-height). From my point of view this is good, since the typical stretch of lower case letters does have ascenders.

Besides this general difference, there are also individual letter shapes:

\fontfamily{qpl}\selectfont \textsc{Acronym} O\textsc{o}o
\fontfamily{pplx}\selectfont \textsc{Acronym} O\textsc{o}o

qpl vs. pplx comparison

From my point of view the \textsc{o} in qpl is to wide for its height.

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