mf — METAFONT, a language for font and logo design
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METAFONT reads the program in the specified files and outputs font rasters (in GF format) and font metrics (in TFM format). The METAFONT language is described in The METAFONTbook.
Like TeX, METAFONT is normally used with a large body of
precompiled macros, and font generation in particular requires the
support of several macro files. METAFONT looks at its command line
to see what name it was called under. Both inimf and virmf are
linked to the mf executable. When called as inimf (or when the
--initialize option is given) it can be used to
precompile macros into a
.base file. When called
as virmf it will use the plain base. When called under any other
name, METAFONT will use that name as the name of the base to use.
For example, when called as mf the mf base is used, which is
identical to the plain base. Other bases than plain are rarely
The commands given on the command line to the METAFONT program
are passed to it as the first input line. (But it is often easier to
type extended arguments as the first input line, since shells tend to
gobble up or misinterpret METAFONT's favorite symbols, like
semicolons, unless you quote them.) As described in The
METAFONTbook, that first line should begin with a
filename, a \controlsequence, or a
The normal usage is to say
to start processing
. (Or you can
just say mf and give the other stuff on the next line.) Other
control sequences, such as
silent operation) can also appear. The name
font will be the “job name”,
and is used in forming output file names. If METAFONT doesn't get a
file name in the first line, the job name is
mfput. The default extension,
.mf, can be overridden by specifying an extension
A log of error messages goes into the file
. The output
number depends on the resolution and
magnification of the font. The mode in this example is shown
printengine, a symbolic term
for which the name of an actual device or, most commonly, the name
localfont must be substituted. If the mode is
not specified or is not valid, METAFONT will default to proof mode
which produces large character images for use in font design and
refinement. Proof mode can be recognized by the suffix
.2602gf after the job name. Examples of proof
mode output can be found in Computer Modern
Typefaces (Volume E of Computers and
Typesetting). The system of magsteps is
identical to the system used by TeX, with values generally in the
range 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0.
Magnification can also be specified not as a magstep but as an arbitrary value, such as 1.315, to create special character sizes.
Before font production can begin, it is necessary to set up the
appropriate base files. The minimum set of components for font
production for a given printengine is the
plain.mf macro file and the local mode_def file. The macros in
plain.mf can be studied in an appendix to
The METAFONTbook; they were developed by
Donald E. Knuth, and this file should never be altered. Each
mode_def specification helps adapt
fonts to a particular printengine. The local ones in use on this
computer should be in
e response to METAFONT's error
prompt causes the default editor to start up at the current line of
the current file. The configuration value
Editor can be used to change the editor
used. It may contain a string with
where the filename goes and
%l indicating where the
decimal line number (if any) goes.
A convenient file is
nothing. When METAFONT can't find the file it thinks you want to
input, it keeps asking you for another file name; responding
null gets you out of the loop if you don't want
to input anything.
You can see METAFONTs output without printing. Chapter 23 of
The METAFONTbook describes what you can do.
You enable screen ouput by giving
--screen on the
Pretend to be
set program (and memory dump) name to
This may affect the search paths and other values used. Using this
option is equivalent to copying the executable file to
Set the the maximum number of characters simultaneously present in current lines of open files and in control sequences between \csname and \endcsname. TeX uses the buffer to contain input lines, but macro expansion works by writing material into the buffer and reparsing the line. As a consequence, certain constructs require the buffer to be very large, even though most documents can be handled with a small value.
Disable automatic installation of missing packages. Specifying this option overwrites the global configuration setting in MiKTeX Options (see the section called “Automatic Package Installation”).
Enable automatic installation of missing packages. Specifying this option overwrites the global configuration setting in MiKTeX Options (see the section called “Automatic Package Installation”).
Give help and exit.
This option is only available on Windows systems: show the manual page in an HTML Help window and exit when the window is closed.
Suppress all output, except errors.
Enable screen output.
Set the minimum
number of characters that should be available for the
user's control sequences and font names, after the
compiler's own error messages are stored.
Must be at least
25000 less than
but doesn't need to be nearly that large.
Process the TCX table
Enable trace messages.
tracestreams argument, if speciefied, is a
comma-separated list of trace
stream names (Chapter 9, Trace Streams).
Show version information and exit.