Computer Modern

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Template:Infobox font Computer Modern is the family of typefaces used by default by the typesetting program TeX. It was created by Donald Knuth with his METAFONT program, and was most recently updated in 1992. However, the family font was superseded by CM-Super (Computer Modern-super), the latest release dating 2002. The latter was complemented by CM-LGC, which provides support for Latin, Greek and Cyrillic, with the latest release dating 2005. Both CM-Super and CM-LGC are included in TeXLive, a modern TeX distribution.

The Computer Modern typefaces are described in great detail (including full source code) in the book Computer Modern Typefaces, volume E in the Computers and Typesetting series, which is unique in the history of font design: in Knuth's words, they "belong to the class of sets of books that describe precisely their own appearance."

As implied by the name, Computer Modern is a modern font. Modern, or "Didone", fonts have high contrast between thick and thin elements, and their axis of "stress" or thickening is perfectly vertical. Computer Modern, specifically, is based on Monotype Modern 8a, and like its immediate model it has a large x-height relative to the length of ascenders and descenders.

The most unusual characteristic of Computer Modern, however, is the fact that it is a complete type family designed with the METAFONT system. The Computer Modern source files are governed by 62 distinct parameters, controlling the widths and heights of various elements, the presence of serifs or old-style numerals, whether dots such as the dot on the "i" are square or rounded, and the degree of "superness" in the bowls of lowercase letters such as "g" and "o". Computer Modern is by no means the only METAFONT-designed typeface, but it is the most mature and widely used by far.

The advance of printer technology has reduced the need for software rasterizers like METAFONT. Outline fonts (to be rendered by the printer or display system) are now generally preferred. As a result, many users have now migrated to Postscript-based replacements, mostly Type 1 implementation of Computer Modern, maintained by the American Mathematical Society, or Latin Modern, instead of the original METAFONT-based Computer Modern.


  • Donald E. Knuth, Computers and Typesetting Volume E: The Computer Modern Fonts, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass. 1986 Hardcover: ISBN 0201134462, Softcover: ISBN 0201606607

External links

it:Computer Modern ja:Computer Modern pl:Computer Modern sk:Computer Modern sv:Computer Modern

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