Custom symbols in LaTeX

The custom symbols I made.I'm writing a report which will eventually become the introduction to my Master's thesis.  It's on existing medical workflow technologies, including Little-JIL.  I wrote the rough draft back in January, and am now hammering away on making the revisions my advisor suggested (try and ignore the several month turnaround :D).  Little-JIL has a number of custom symbols which he wanted referenced in the text of the document (rather than as figures).

I initially tried to create these symbols as characters in a custom font.  I downloaded FontForge, built some .svg templates in Inkscape, and tried to get everything modified so it looked right.  Unfortunately, I know nothing about making fonts, and FontForge, while powerful, is somewhat daunting to use.  I had errors ranging from improper em-widths to open paths (?). I managed to get a sort of basic version of my symbols built and fontified, and they looked decent for a rough draft.

Getting certain characters to render in a specific font was less than straightforward, however, and I realized that I would have to include my custom font with the source of my report to anyone who wanted to make edits.  I then decided to try inlining drawings of the symbols — since graphics can be scaled arbitrarily in LaTeX, if I made them very small, perhaps it wouldn't look too shabby.  It would certainly be easier to include them, and I already had a set of custom graphics that had to be used in compilation of the final document anyway.  Plus, I already had scalable versions of both symbols, so it would be easy to try it out.

Much to my surprise, it turned out really, really well.  The graphics blend in well, and shouldn't even stick out as custom unless the reader knows what she's looking for.

One Reply to “Custom symbols in LaTeX”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.