Computers & Typesetting, Volume C: The Metafont Book

Donald E. Knuth  
Total pages
January 1986
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Computers & Typesetting, Volume C: The Metafont Book
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Back Cover

A Complete User's Guide to Typeface Design with METAFONT

Now, 35 years after the first edition, the leading worldwide experts on these systems have spent several months inspecting every page thoroughly. We now believe that every 'i' has been properly dotted,  every 't' has been properly crossed, and every bug has been properly exterminated.

METAFONT, created by author Donald E. Knuth, is a computer language that allows you to produce professional quality typefaces using mathematical type design. The METAFONTbook, a users guide and reference manual, enables readers with only minimal computer science or word processing experience to master the basic as well as the more advanced areas of METAFONT programming.

Readers will learn how to write a program for each letter or symbol of a typeface. Using METAFONT, it is possible to customize a type design that already exists, or even to create an entire alphabet from scratch. It is particularly easy to create logos or special symbols. Advanced users will enjoy the freedom and artistry that METAFONT allows in creating original typefaces.


  • Introduces concepts informally early in the text; in later chapters, these concepts are filled in with more detailed explanations.
  • Program exercises are found throughout the text with answers in an appendix.
  • Exercises and concepts of greater difficulty are marked with margin symbols. In this way, both beginning and experienced users of METAFONT can benefit.
  • The book is a companion text to Knuth's The TeXbook, since TeX can be used to typeset with fonts created using METAFONT.

Knuth's familiar wit, and illustrations specially drawn by Duane Bibby, add a light touch to an unusually readable software manual.

The METAFONTbook is the third in a five-volume series on Computers and Typesetting, all authored by Knuth. The METAFONTbook is also available in softcover.


Donald E. Knuth is known throughout the world for his pioneering work on algorithms and programming techniques, for his invention of the Tex and Metafont systems for computer typesetting, and for his prolific and influential writing. Professor Emeritus of The Art of Computer Programming at Stanford University, he currently devotes full time to the completion of these fascicles and the seven volumes to which they belong.