Blog Archives

Which Unicode characters can you depend on?

Unicode is supported everywhere, but font support for Unicode characters is sparse. When you use any slightly uncommon character, you have no guarantee someone else will be able to see it. I’m starting a Twitter account @MusicTheoryTip and so I

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A web built on LaTeX

The other day on TeXtip, I threw this out: Imagine if the web had been built on LaTeX instead of HTML … Here are some of the responses I got: It would have been more pretty looking. Frightening. Single tear

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Posted in Software development, Typography

Use typewriter font for code inside prose

There’s a useful tradition of using a typewriter font, or more generally some monospaced font, for bits of code sprinkled in prose. The practice is analogous to using italic to mark, for example, a French mot dropped into an English

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Unicode to LaTeX

I’ve run across a couple web sites that let you enter a LaTeX symbol and get back its Unicode value. But I didn’t find a site that does the reverse, going from Unicode to LaTeX, so I wrote my own.

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Letters that fell out of the alphabet

Mental Floss had an interesting article called 12 letters that didn’t make the alphabet. A more accurate title might be 12 letters that fell out of the modern English alphabet. I thought it would have been better if the article

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Automatic delimiter sizes in LaTeX

I recently read a math book in which delimiters never adjusted to the size of their content or the level of nesting. This isn’t unusual in articles, but books usually pay more attention to typography. Here’s a part of an

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The paper is too big

In response to the question “Why are default LaTeX margins so big?” Paul Stanley answers It’s not that the margins are too wide. It’s that the paper is too big! This sounds flippant, but he gives a compelling argument that

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Gutenberg + Readability

Here’s a very simple idea: Use Project Gutenberg for content and Readability for style. Project Gutenberg has a large collection of public domain books in digital form. The books are available in several formats, none of which are ideal for

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Readability

The Readability bookmarklet lets you reformat any web to make it easier to read. It strips out flashing ads and other distractions. It uses black text on a white background, wide margins, a moderate-sized font, etc. I use Readability fairly

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Posted in Software development, Typography

Draw a symbol, look it up

LaTeX users may know about Detexify, a web site that lets you draw a character then looks up its TeX command. Now there’s a new site Shapecatcher that does the same thing for Unicode. According to the site, “Currently, there

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Typesetting “C#” in LaTeX

How do you refer to the C# programming language in LaTeX? Simply typing C# doesn’t work because # is a special character in LaTeX. You could type C#. That works, but it looks a little odd. The number sign is

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Typesetting chemistry in LaTeX

Yesterday I gave the following tip on TeXtip: Set chemical formulas with math Roman. Example: sulfate is $mathrm{SO_4^{2-}}$ TorbjoernT and scmbradley let me know there’s a better way: use Martin Hansel’s package mhchem. The package is simpler to use and

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Complexity of HTML and LaTeX

Sometime around 1994, my office mate introduced me to HTML by saying it was 10 times simpler than LaTeX. At the time I thought he was right. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe he was right in 1994 when the

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Top four LaTeX mistakes

Here are four of the most common typesetting errors I see in books and articles created with LaTeX. 1) Quotes Quotation marks in LaTeX files begin with two back ticks, “, and end with two single quotes, ”. The first

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The disappointing state of Unicode fonts

Modern operating systems understand Unicode internally, but font support for Unicode is spotty. For an example of the problems this can cause, take a look at these screen shots of how the same Twitter message appears differently depending on what

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