miktex-mf — METAFONT, a language for font and logo design


miktex-mf [option...] [[command...] | [file]]


This man page is an adaption of the corresponding TeX Live man page.

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. This version of METAFONT looks at its command line to see what name it was called under. Both inimf and virmf are links to the miktex-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 miktex-mf the mf base is used, which is identical to the plain base. Other bases than plain are rarely used.

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 &basename.

The normal usage is to say miktex-mf \mode=printengine; input font to start processing (Or you can just say miktex-mf and give the other stuff on the next line.) Other control sequences, such as batchmode (for silent operation) can also appear. The name font will be the jobname, 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 explicitly.

A log of error messages goes into the file jobname.log. The output files are jobname.tfm and jobname.numbergf, where number depends on the resolution and magnification of the font. The mode in this example is shown generically as printengine, a symbolic term for which the name of an actual device or, most commonly, the name localfont (see below) 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 macro file and the local mode_def file. The macros in can be studied in an appendix to The METAFONTbook; they were developed by Donald E. Knuth, and this file should never be altered except when it is officially upgraded. Each mode_def specification helps adapt fonts to a particular printengine. The local ones in use on this computer should be in

The e response to METAFONT's error-recovery prompt causes the default editor to start up at the current line of the current file. The configuration value [Core]Editor can be used to change the editor used. It may contain a string with %f indicating where the file name goes and %l indicating where the decimal line number (if any) goes. For example, an [Core]Editor string for emacs can be set with the command

> initexmf --set-config-value="[Core]Editor=emacs +%l%f"

A convenient file is, containing 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.

Online Graphics Output

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 command-line.



Pretend to be program name, i.e., set program (and memory dump) name to name. This may affect the search paths and other values used. Using this option is equivalent to copying the program file to name and invoking name.


Set dir as the directory to which auxiliary files are written. Also look for input files in dir first, before along the normal search path.


Set the size of the stack for bisection algorithms.


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.


Change the way, error messages are printed. The alternate style looks like error messages from many compilers and is easier to parse for some editors.


Disable automatic installation of packages. Specifying this option overrules settings in the MiKTeX configuration data store.


Disable checking whether the first line of the main input file starts with %&.


Enable automatic installation of packages. Specifying this option overrules settings in the MiKTeX configuration data store.


Set the width of context lines on terminal error messages.


Set the width of first lines of contexts in terminal error messages.


Quit after the first error.


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.


Add the directory dir to the head of the list of directories to be searched for input files.


Become the INI variant of the program.


Set the interaction mode. Must be one of batchmode, nonstopmode, scrollmode and errorstopmode. The meaning of these modes is the same as the corresponding commands.


Set the name of the job (\jobname). This has an affect on the output file names.


Set the time-stamp of all output files equal to file's time-stamp.


Set the maximum number of ligature/kern steps. Must be at least 255 and at most 32510.


Change the total size (in memory words) of the main memory array. Relevant only while creating memory dump files.


Set the width of longest text lines output; should be at least 60.


Set the maximum number of strings.


Set the number of autorounded points per cycle.


Set the the space for storing moves in a single octant.


Don't change the way, error messages are printed.


Write output files in dir. instead of the current directory. Look up input files in dir first, then along the normal search path.


Set the the maximum number of simultaneous macro parameters.


Check whether the first line of the main input file starts with %&, and parse if it does. This can be used to specify extra command-line options.


Set the the maximum number of knots between breakpoints of a path.


Set the maximum number of characters in strings, including all error messages and help texts, and the names of all fonts and control sequences.


Suppress all output, except errors.


Record all package usages and write them into file.


Enable the file name recorder. This leaves a trace of the files opened for input and output in a file with the extension .fls.


Enable screen output.


Set the maximum number of simultaneous input sources.


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 pool_size, but doesn't need to be nearly that large.


Use the tcxname translation table to set the mapping of input characters and re-mapping of output characters.


Show processing time statistics.


Enable trace messages. The tracestreams argument, if specified, is a comma-separated list of trace stream names (Chapter 9, Trace Streams).


Use name as the name of the format to be used, instead of the name by which the program was called or a




Show version information and exit.



Extra paths to locate METAFONT input and openin files.


The editor to use when selecting e in the error prompt menu.

The value can contain these placesholder:


The name of the file, which contains the erroneous line of TeX code.


The line number.


Comma-separated list of trace stream names (see Chapter 9, Trace Streams). If this variable is set, then MiKTeX programs will write trace messages into the configured log sink.

See also

978-0201134452. The METAFONTbook. Donald E. Knuth. Addison-Wesley. 1986.