Notes on embedding fonts in rst2pdf
I wanted to use Helvetica Light in a PDF that I’m creating using rst2pdf and this proved a little tricker than I expected.
Note that to use fonts with rst2pdf, you need to install fontconfig using brew:
brew install fontconfig
Now, on to the problem!
In this case, I discovered that setting stdFont: Helvetica-Light or stdFont: HelveticaLight in the style file resulted in Verdana being used in the PDF file!
Fortunately, the -v switch to rst2pdf is your friend when you want to know what’s happening:
[INFO] findfonts.py:270 Trying to embed Helvetica-Light [INFO] findfonts.py:307 fname for findTTFont: Helvetica-Light [INFO] findfonts.py:308 Variants via findTTFont: ['/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Verdana.ttf', '/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Verdana Bold.ttf', '/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Verdana Italic.ttf', '/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Verdana Bold Italic.ttf'] [INFO] findfonts.py:317 Registering font: Verdana from /Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Verdana.ttf [INFO] findfonts.py:317 Registering font: Verdana Bold from /Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Verdana Bold.ttf [INFO] findfonts.py:317 Registering font: Verdana Italic from /Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Verdana Italic.ttf [INFO] findfonts.py:317 Registering font: Verdana Bold Italic from /Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Verdana Bold Italic.ttf [INFO] findfonts.py:329 Embedding via findTTFont as ['Verdana', 'Verdana Bold', 'Verdana Italic', 'Verdana Bold Italic']
As can be seen by the output, rst2pdf can’t find Helvetica-Light and so has substituted Verdana instead. This would seem to be because it couldn’t find a TTF file for the font on my Mac as Helvetica Light is stored in a dfont file.
To solve this, I used DFontSplitter to extract Helvetica Light as a separate TTF file and added this as an embedded font to the style file:
embeddedFonts:  [fonts/HelveticaLight.ttf, fonts/HelveticaLight.ttf, fonts/HelveticaLight.ttf, fonts/HelveticaLight.ttf]
and re-ran with -v which gave me this information:
[INFO] styles.py:276 Registering font: fonts/HelveticaLight from ./fonts/HelveticaLight.ttf
I now know that the name to use when referencing this font is “fonts/HelveticaLight” and so I can use it within the style file like this:
and the font is embedded as I expected.