Using system and web fonts in R plots

The forthcoming R Journal has an interesting article on the showtext package by Yixuan Qiu. The package allows me to use system and web fonts directly in R plots, reminding me a little of the approach taken by XeLaTeX. But “unlike other methods to embed fonts into graphics, showtext converts text into raster images or polygons, and then adds them to the plot canvas. This method produces platform-independent image files that do not rely on the fonts that create them.” [1]

Here is an example with fonts from my local system:

png("System-Fonts.png", width=550, height=350);
plot(1 ~ 1, main="Lucida Bright", family = "Lucida Bright")
plot(1 ~ 1, main="Courier", family = "Courier")
plot(1 ~ 1, main="Helvetica Neue Light", family = "Helvetica Neue Light") 
plot(1 ~ 1, main="Lucida Handwriting Italic", family = "Lucida Handwriting Italic")

Additionally showtext allows me to use fonts hosted online, e.g. Google web fonts:"Alegreya Sans", "aleg");"Permanent Marker", "marker")"Gruppo", "gruppo")"Lobster", "lobster")
png("Google-Fonts.png", width=550, height=350)
plot(1 ~ 1, main="Alegreya Sans", family = "aleg")
plot(1 ~ 1, main="Permanent Marker", family = "marker")
plot(1 ~ 1, main="Gruppo", family = "gruppo") 
plot(1 ~ 1, main="Lobster", family = "lobster") 
For more information read the article and/or visit the project site.


[1] Yixuan Qiu. showtext: Using System Fonts in R Graphics. The R Journal, 7(1), 2015.

Session Info

R version 3.2.0 (2015-04-16)
Platform: x86_64-apple-darwin13.4.0 (64-bit)
Running under: OS X 10.10.3 (Yosemite)

[1] en_GB.UTF-8/en_GB.UTF-8/en_GB.UTF-8/C/en_GB.UTF-8/en_GB.UTF-8

attached base packages:
[1] stats graphics grDevices utils datasets methods base     

other attached packages:
[1] showtext_0.4-2 sysfonts_0.5  

loaded via a namespace (and not attached):
[1] RCurl_1.95-4.6 showtextdb_1.0 jsonlite_0.9.16 bitops_1.0-6


For attribution, please cite this work as:

Markus Gesmann (Jun 09, 2015) Using system and web fonts in R plots. Retrieved from

BibTeX citation:

@misc{ 2015-using-system-and-web-fonts-in-r-plots,
 author = { Markus Gesmann },
 title = { Using system and web fonts in R plots },
 url = { },
 year = { 2015 }
 updated = { Jun 09, 2015 }