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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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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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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Posted in Typography

Google Docs OCR

Google Docs now offers OCR (optical character recognition), but I’ve had little success gettingĀ  it to work. The link to upload files was flaky under Firefox 3.6.4. The underlined text that says “Select files to upload” is not clickable, but

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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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Free alternative to Consolas font

Consolas is my favorite monospace font. It’s a good programmer’s font because it exaggerates the differences between some characters that may easily be confused. It ships with Visual Studio and with many other Microsoft products. See this post for examples.

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Adding fonts to the PowerShell and cmd.exe consoles

The default font options for the PowerShell console are limited: raster fonts and Lucida Console. Raster fonts are the default, though Lucida Console is an improvement. In my opinion, Consolas is even better, but it’s not on the list of

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Posted in PowerShell, Typography

I owe Microsoft Word an apology

I tried to use the Equation Editor in Microsoft Word years ago and hated it. It was hard to use and produced ugly output. I tried it again recently and was pleasantly surprised. I’m using Word 2007. I don’t remember

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Posted in Math, Typography