[R-sig-Debian] Fwd: [R] Wrong symbol rendering in plots (Ubuntu)

Paul Johnson pauljohn32 at gmail.com
Mon Jun 7 21:34:21 CEST 2010

I sent the message accidentally to r-help, but I intended to follow
r-sig-debian because it is about the problem that Evince doesn't
render symbols properly.  it explains why I think the embedFonts
function in R is the "magic bullet"

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Paul Johnson <pauljohn32 at gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 9:28 AM
Subject: Re: [R] Wrong symbol rendering in plots (Ubuntu)
To: "Eduardo J. Chica" <ejchica at gmail.com>
Cc: r-help at r-project.org

On Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM, Eduardo J. Chica <ejchica at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi I am having problems with the rendering of scientific symbols (mu and
> degree) in my plots. Whenever I use these symbols they are rendered changed
> (mu is changed to the proportionality symbol and degree is changed to
> something resembling a gamma) in the X-device. If I make a pdf of the plot
> and open the file in Evince or Okular symbols are also rendered wrong,
> however if I open the file with Xpdf or Acroread they are rendered
> correctly.
> I did not have this problem before, it arose after I upgraded both R and my
> system (Ubuntu karmic koala to lucid lynx), so I can not tell for sure if
> the problem is R-related or Ubuntu related (I have posted in a Ubuntu forum
> also http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1325289).
> Please let me know if you have any idea of how to fix this, or if you can
> confirm this is not an R-related issue.

I run Ubuntu as well and I see the same problem when I view a pdf with
Evince, the default document viewer.  In Adobe's Acorbat reader,
acroread, the symbols show correctly.

Here's an example pdf file:


In Evince, instead of mu, you see the proportional to symbol.

In the Ubuntu bugtracker, this problem has been reported and they say
it has been fixed, but I still see it.


I believe the problem is a mismatch between the fonts available to R
and to the various viewers.  R does not embed all fonts in the pdf
files.  Open a suspect pdf in Evince or some other viewer and check on
the fonts. In Evince, under the File/Properties menu, there's a font

None of the fonts in R pdfs are embedded.  There is a way to embed
fonts after in R, (see ?embedFonts) but I can't understand the
documentation on how to do that.  But I'm testing it out.

I believe that the fonts installed in the system, combined with
whatever user config changes occur, make this a tough problem to

Paul E. Johnson
Professor, Political Science
1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504
University of Kansas

Paul E. Johnson
Professor, Political Science
1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504
University of Kansas

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