Math fonts in LaTeX

Bitstream Math Font

Tired of Computer Modern or Times when you turn to LaTeX to document your hard work? This post outlines the relatively simple process of using another font that adds a bit more style to your documents. The general challenge is to find a font for the math that matches the text font. This is solved with the mathdesign package for LaTeX.

Incidentally, there is a nice overview of other text and math font pairings by Stephen G. Hartke hosted on ctan. Check it out to see a sample of my new favorite, Bitstream Charter, in action.

These instructions exist in various places on the internet, but as much for my sake as for anyone else’s, I’ll post them here as well. First, you will need the mathdesign package. Download and and put them in the root folder of your texmf tree. Unzip both, and run either “texhash” or “mktexlsr” (often one of these is aliased to the other, so either should work). Now you want to use “updmap” to update the font maps. You can do this by either adding a line like “Map” to your updmap.cfg file, or you can simply run updmap --enable Map If you are root, the first may be easier, and more official. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to use the latter option. They both work equally well.

Finally, to use bitstream Charter in a LaTeX document, include the following lines in the beginning of your tex file:


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2 thoughts on “Math fonts in LaTeX

  1. Thanks! This was exactly what I was looking for—Computer Modern does get a bit boring after a while, although IMO still much nicer to look at then Times New Roman, which I used for 10 years before I discovered LaTeX… :-)

  2. The templates that come with TeXShop include one for fonts. This is but one of the four alternatives:

    % Fourier for math | Utopia (scaled) for rm | Helvetica for ss | Latin Modern for tt
    \usepackage{fourier} % math & rm
    \usepackage[scaled=0.875]{helvet} % ss
    \renewcommand{\ttdefault}{lmtt} %tt

    On the other hand, mathdesign is probably already installed. MacTeX (which is based, I think, on TeXLive) has it.

    Of course, the nicer solution is to use XeLaTeX ( XeLaTeX will let you use any font installed in your computer. The mathspec package will help you with the math fonts (


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