There are (some very nice) text fonts which do not have math support. Though there are ways to 'remedy' this, such as the mathastext package and some others, these are hardly satisfactory. All accents need to be manually adjusted every time they are used, spacing is a nightmare, and overall the document in general does not look professional. Leading to my

Question. How would one, given a text font, design a math package utilizing this font?

In particular, I am not interested (at the moment) in artistic font design issues like shape and slope of letters and such things. Some of the precise issues that I would like to solve are:

  • Positions for decorations like bars, tildes, etc.
  • Subscript / superscript size and positioning.
  • 'Box' sizes and position (I believe this is correct terminology), for instance how much space around an italicized $f$ so that the tail does not overlap the previous letter (an issue that occurs frequently with the remedies mentioned above).

And of course, there is the issue of the math symbols (including arrows, binary operators, greek letters, script alphabets, etc.). Obviously it would be nice to create from scratch my own set of such symbols, but that is far in the future and not an issue for now. Right now, I have symbols I like from a variety of places and packages.

Example. The package fouriernc is new century schoolbook with fourier math. This is similar to what I want. To design a math font package that is equipped with math symbols from another. (Indeed, fourier is a math set I am considering.)

So, now that the proposal is (relatively, I hope) clear, we return to the question. I don't have experience programming in TeX (though I know C and python quite well) beyond the basics. In particular, I have never done anything beyond what is in document. Thus I haven't a clue on how to begin with this project. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • 2
    I guess that a relevant source is Knuth's "Computer and Typesetting", Volume E, "Computer Modern Typefaces" (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1986), xvi+588pp (ISBN 0-201-13446-2) where the building of the Computer Modern math fonts is described with all the needed details.
    – egreg
    Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 17:17
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    There is a talk from BachoTeX2008 by Ulrik Vieth: youtube.com/watch?v=EwCG0r1tj5Q, and the paper (PDF): tug.org/~vieth/papers/bachotex2008/math-font-paper.pdf which you may find interesting.
    – morbusg
    Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 17:32
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    @egreg: That would be a start; but today a math font should be an OpenType math font. Here is a paper on the design of Cambria Math. Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 23:28

2 Answers 2


First off, I should warn you that I haven't tried creating anything nearly as difficult as a math font myself.

But with that caveat, the best way would be to create an OpenType font using the Unicode codepoints for mathematical symbols, which you can use with XeLaTeX and the unicode-math package. The package includes several fonts you can use as templates whose glyphs you can replace with your own.

See this answer for a fairly detailed demonstration of how you would use the unicode-math package, and for a look at many of the available fonts.


I suppose not the answer you want to hear:

It is really difficult to build or better create a good looking and working math font. Your question let me guess, that you are not a typographer. So please don't do it. Leave this job a typographer who has learned (tooks several years ...) to do this.

  • Indeed, creating a math font is hard. In fact, so hard that it's difficult even for a typographer. You need a fair amount of programming experience, and you must have an eye for how equations should look like on print. Which is why there are almost no math fonts available. Indeed, it would be helpful if the Math Font Gurus (Khaled Hosny, Apos­to­los Sy­ropou­los, Johannes Küster, GUST Foundry) could put up a "recipe" for the technical aspects of, say, merging a math font and a text font family.
    – akvilas
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 11:17
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    I think this answer is really terrible. This is like saying to someone that they should not draw or play an instrument because mastery takes years and years of practice. If more people started designing their own fonts then after some time there would be more good fonts available. There seem to be a lot of arrogance surrounding typography in general. Some people seem to think that only a chosen few with a specific education should ever do it. This is just nonsense. Design and art is subjective and there is really right or wrong way to do it. There might be better or worse ways though.. Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 10:29
  • not helpful at all Commented Mar 12 at 9:12

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