xfontsel Man page

XFONTSEL(1) General Commands Manual XFONTSEL(1)


xfontsel – point and click selection of X11 font names

xfontsel [-toolkitoption …] [-pattern fontname] [-print] [-sample
text] [-sample16 text16] [-sampleUCS textUCS] [-scaled]


The xfontsel application provides a simple way to display the fonts
known to your X server, examine samples of each, and retrieve the X
Logical Font Description (“XLFD”) full name for a font.

If -pattern is not specified, all fonts with XLFD 14-part names will be
selectable. To work with only a subset of the fonts, specify -pattern
followed by a partially or fully qualified font name; e.g., “-pattern
*medium*” will select that subset of fonts which contain the string
“medium” somewhere in their font name. Be careful about escaping
wildcard characters in your shell.

If -print is specified on the command line the selected font specifier
will be written to standard output when the quit button is activated.
Regardless of whether or not -print was specified, the font specifier
may be made the PRIMARY (text) selection by activating the select but‐

The -sample option specifies the sample text to be used to display the
selected font if the font is linearly indexed, overriding the default.

The -sample16 option specifies the sample text to be used to display
the selected font if the font is matrix encoded, overriding the

The -sampleUCS option specifies the sample text encoded in the UTF-8
form to be used to display the selected font if the font has a
CHARSET_REGISTRY of ISO10646, overriding the default.

The -scaled option enables the ability to select scaled fonts at arbi‐
trary pixel or point sizes.

Clicking any pointer button in one of the XLFD field names will pop up
a menu of the currently-known possibilities for that field. If previ‐
ous choices of other fields were made, only values for fonts which
matched the previously selected fields will be selectable; to make
other values selectable, you must deselect some other field(s) by
choosing the “*” entry in that field. Unselectable values may be
omitted from the menu entirely as a configuration option; see the
ShowUnselectable resource, below. Whenever any change is made to a
field value, xfontsel will assert ownership of the PRIMARY_FONT selec‐
tion. Other applications (see, e.g., xterm) may then retrieve the
selected font specification.

Scalable fonts come back from the server with zero for the pixel size,
point size, and average width fields. Selecting a font name with a
zero in these positions results in an implementation-dependent size.
Any pixel or point size can be selected to scale the font to a particu‐
lar size. Any average width can be selected to anamorphically scale
the font (although you may find this challenging given the size of the
average width menu).

Clicking the left pointer button in the select widget will cause the
currently selected font name to become the PRIMARY text selection as
well as the PRIMARY_FONT selection. This then allows you to paste the
string into other applications. The select button remains highlighted
to remind you of this fact, and de-highlights when some other applica‐
tion takes the PRIMARY selection away. The select widget is a toggle;
pressing it when it is highlighted will cause xfontsel to release the
selection ownership and de-highlight the widget. Activating the select
widget twice is the only way to cause xfontsel to release the PRI‐
MARY_FONT selection.

The application class is XFontSel. Most of the user-interface is con‐
figured in the app-defaults file; if this file is missing a warning
message will be printed to standard output and the resulting window
will be nearly incomprehensible.

Most of the significant parts of the widget hierarchy are documented in

Application specific resources:

cursor (class Cursor)
Specifies the cursor for the application window.

pattern (class Pattern)
Specifies the font name pattern for selecting a subset of
available fonts. Equivalent to the -pattern option. Most use‐
ful patterns will contain at least one field delimiter; e.g.
“*-m-*” for monospaced fonts.

pixelSizeList (class PixelSizeList)
Specifies a list of pixel sizes to add to the pixel size menu,
so that scalable fonts can be selected at those pixel sizes.
The default pixelSizeList contains 7, 30, 40, 50, and 60.

pointSizeList (class PointSizeList)
Specifies a list of point sizes (in units of tenths of points)
to add to the point size menu, so that scalable fonts can be
selected at those point sizes. The default pointSizeList con‐
tains 250, 300, 350, and 400.

printOnQuit (class PrintOnQuit)
If True the currently selected font name is printed to standard
output when the quit button is activated. Equivalent to the
-print option.

sampleText (class Text)
The sample 1-byte text to use for linearly indexed fonts. Each
glyph index is a single byte, with newline separating lines.

sampleText16 (class Text16)
The sample 2-byte text to use for matrix-encoded fonts. Each
glyph index is two bytes, with a 1-byte newline separating

scaledFonts (class ScaledFonts)
If True then selection of arbitrary pixel and point sizes for
scalable fonts is enabled.

Widget specific resources:

showUnselectable (class ShowUnselectable)
Specifies, for each field menu, whether or not to show values
that are not currently selectable, based upon previous field
selections. If shown, the unselectable values are clearly
identified as such and do not highlight when the pointer is
moved down the menu. The full name of this resource is
fieldN.menu.options.showUnselectable, class MenuButton.Simple‐
Menu.Options.ShowUnselectable; where N is replaced with the
field number (starting with the left-most field numbered 0).
The default is True for all but field 11 (average width of
characters in font) and False for field 11. If you never want
to see unselectable entries, ‘*menu.options.showUnse‐
lectable:False’ is a reasonable thing to specify in a resource



xrdb, xfd


Sufficiently ambiguous patterns can be misinterpreted and lead to an
initial selection string which may not correspond to what the user
intended and which may cause the initial sample text output to fail to
match the proffered string. Selecting any new field value will correct
the sample output, though possibly resulting in no matching font.

Should be able to return a FONT for the PRIMARY selection, not just a

Any change in a field value will cause xfontsel to assert ownership of
the PRIMARY_FONT selection. Perhaps this should be parameterized.

When running on a slow machine, it is possible for the user to request
a field menu before the font names have been completely parsed. An
error message indicating a missing menu is printed to stderr but other‐
wise nothing bad (or good) happens.

The average-width menu is too large to be useful.


Copyright 1989, 1991, X Consortium

See X(7) for a full statement of rights and permissions.


Ralph R. Swick, Digital Equipment Corporation/MIT Project Athena

Mark Leisher added the support for the UTF-8
sample text.

X Version 11 xfontsel 1.0.5 XFONTSEL(1)

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