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When I do

ListPlot[Table[RandomReal[NormalDistribution[], {20, 2}], {2}], 
 PlotStyle -> PointSize[0.02], 
 Epilog -> 
  Style[Text["b: 5%", Scaled[{0.05, 0.05}], {-1, -1}], 
   FontFamily -> "Helvetica"]]

enter image description here

the percent symbol is shown in the wrong typeface, possibly Times. How can I make it display in the correct face?

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Unfortunately, the only way in which I've ever been able to achieve fully consistent typesetting in Mathematica is to use Times font for everything, or to use external $\LaTeX$ processing. Since the default notebook style has changed to Arial in version 9, many inconsistencies like the one you observe are revealed, and I haven't found a good answer how to fix that while using sans serif fonts. – Jens Jan 10 '13 at 18:38
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Mathematica automatically replaces many operators found in normal text fonts with operators in a Mathematica font. You can change that behavior as follows:

SetOptions[EvaluationNotebook[], PrivateFontOptions -> {"OperatorSubstitution" -> False}]


ListPlot[Table[RandomReal[NormalDistribution[], {20, 2}], {2}], 
   PlotStyle -> PointSize[0.02], 
   Epilog -> Style[Text["b: 5%", Scaled[{0.05, 0.05}], {-1, -1}], 
                    FontFamily -> "GiddyupStd", 20]

Mathematica graphics

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+1 Sjoerd! Mooi. – Rolf Mertig Jan 10 '13 at 20:37
In the notebook, this works indeed (+1), but when you export it to PDF the problem re-appears. Also, it re-appears of course when you copy the graphic to another notebook. So the substitution doesn't appear to get turned off for good, unfortunately. – Jens Jan 10 '13 at 20:48
@Jens The OP says nothing about EPS. The question is: "How can I make it display in the correct face?". Other Notebooks can be served by replacing EvaluationNotebook[] with $FrontEnd. – Sjoerd C. de Vries Jan 10 '13 at 20:50
@Jens, you can set this globally using SetOptions[Graphics,BaseStyle -> {PrivateFontOptions -> {"OperatorSubstitution" -> False}} ] or SetOptions[$FrontEnd, PrivateFontOptions -> {"OperatorSubstitution" -> False}] – Verbeia Jan 10 '13 at 22:08
@verbeia Uhm... The latter part is already in my previous comment – Sjoerd C. de Vries Jan 10 '13 at 22:11

An addition to Sjoerd's answer.

Style can be used for setting global FrontEnd or Notebook preferences locally. So it is better to move the PrivateFontOptions -> {"OperatorSubstitution" -> False} option directly in the Style expression rather than changing global preferences. It also solves the problems with Export and copying the graphics between notebooks:

ListPlot[Table[RandomReal[NormalDistribution[], {20, 2}], {2}], 
 PlotStyle -> PointSize[0.02], 
 Epilog -> 
  Style[Text["b: 5%", Scaled[{0.05, 0.05}], {-1, -1}], 
   FontFamily -> "Helvetica", 20, 
   PrivateFontOptions -> {"OperatorSubstitution" -> False}]]

Export["test.pdf", %]


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I think I knew this, but I had forgotten. Thanks for the reminder. +1 – Mr.Wizard Jan 11 '13 at 9:19
+1 I like this much better than the global $FrontEnd setting because the latter severely messes up the display of things like MatrixForm[...] where custom parentheses "operators" are needed. – Jens Jan 11 '13 at 19:57
Unfortunately, even with your method the formatting is wrong if your plot also includes a matrix with expanded parentheses. The ( and ) surrounding a matrix will simply become fixed height symbols because turning off the operator substitution prevents Mathematica from building them out of extensible parts. – Jens Jan 11 '13 at 20:25
@Jens You can always set local Style for single elements and combine them with Row or use low-level constructs like StyleBox and RowBox. For example, MatrixForm[{{Row[{1,Style["%",PrivateFontOptions->{"OperatorSubstitution"->Fals‌​e}]},BaseStyle->FontFamily->"Helvetica"],2},{3,4}}]. – Alexey Popkov Jan 11 '13 at 20:35
@AlexeyPopkov Sure - but then you're back to what I called "finger painting" in my answer... but at least you're getting nice looking output with your approach. – Jens Jan 11 '13 at 20:47

It will take some finger-painting to cobble together a combination of different fonts that look right together and have a percent sign that looks like sans-serif . Not a real solution, but maybe this will look more consistent to you:

Style["label text: 5 %", FontFamily -> "Monaco"]

enter image description here

Or you could do this:

Row[{Style["label text: 5", FontFamily -> "Helvetica"], 
  Style["%", FontFamily -> "Monaco"]}]

enter image description here


Looking at the exported PDF file containing Style[5 %, FontFamily -> "Helvetica"] in a text editor, there is in fact a font descriptor for the Mathematica1 font embedded where the percent sign should be rendered. One can manually delete the descriptors containing Mathematica1 to get a PDF that displays the % correctly in an external PDF viewer. However, I'm not sure if this can be done automatically in a sufficiently robust way. And the problem remains that such modified PDF files can't be directly re-imported into Mathematica unless you first outline the fonts as described here.

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