Font selection

Proplot registers several new fonts and includes tools for adding your own fonts. These features are described below.

Included fonts

Matplotlib provides a font_manager module for working with system fonts and classifies fonts into five font families: rc['font.serif'] rc['font.sans-serif'], rc['font.monospace'], rc['font.cursive'], and rc['font.fantasy']. The default font family is sans-serif, because sans-serif fonts are generally more suitable for figures than serif fonts, and the default font name belonging to this family is DejaVu Sans, which comes packaged with matplotlib.

Matplotlib uses DejaVu Sans in part because it includes glyphs for a very wide range of symbols, especially mathematical symbols. However in our opinion, DejaVu Sans is not very aesthetically pleasing. To improve the font selection while keeping things consistent across different workstations, proplot comes packaged with several open source sans-serif fonts. It also includes the TeX Gyre font series and adds them as the default entries for all of matplotlib’s font famlies:

After importing proplot, the default matplotlib font will be TeX Gyre Heros, which emulates the more conventional and aesthetically pleasing font Helvetica. The full font priority lists for each family are displayed in the default proplotrc file.

To compare different fonts, use the show_fonts command. By default, this displays the sans-serif fonts available on your system and packaged with proplot. The default table on the RTD server is shown below. The “¤” symbol appears where characters for a particular font are unavailable (when making plots, “¤” is replaced with the character from a fallback font). Since most TeX Gyre fonts have limited character sets, if your plots contain lots of mathematical symbols, you may want to set rc[''] to the matplotlib-supplied font 'DejaVu Sans' or the proplot-supplied font 'Fira Math' (see this page for more on Fira Math).


Try to avoid .ttf files with Thin in the file name. Some versions of matplotlib interpret fonts with the “thin” style as having normal weight (see this issue page), causing them to override the correct normal weight versions. While proplot tries to filter out these files, this cannot be done systematically. In the below example, the “Roboto” font may be overridden by its “thin” version because the RTD server includes this style.

import proplot as pplt
fig, axs = pplt.show_fonts()

Using your own fonts

You can register your own fonts by adding files to the fonts subfolder inside user_folder and calling register_fonts. This command is called on import. You can also manually pass file paths to register_fonts. To change the default font, use the rc object or modify your proplotrc. See the configuration section for details.

Sometimes the font you would like to use is installed, but the font file is not stored under the matplotlib-compatible .ttf, .otf, or .afm formats. For example, several macOS fonts are unavailable because they are stored as .dfont collections. Also, while matplotlib nominally supports .ttc collections, proplot ignores them because figures with .ttc fonts cannot be saved as PDFs. You can get matplotlib to use .dfont and .ttc collections by expanding them into individual .ttf files with the DFontSplitter application, then saving the files in-place or in the ~/.proplot/fonts folder.

To find font collections, check the paths listed in OSXFontDirectories, X11FontDirectories, MSUserFontDirectories, and MSFontDirectories under the matplotlib.font_manager module.