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TechNote #76: Last modified: 02/28/01
Last reviewed: 02/28/01

"The Symbol Font Is Unavailable" Error Message

The information in this document applies to:

MathType 3.x (Mac)

Macintosh OS 7.x
Macintosh OS 8.x
Macintosh OS 9.x


When some users launch MathType, they receive the following error messages,


Additional error messages follow, which notify them which fonts will be substituted for the missing Symbol and MT Extra fonts. This message is distinct from the message that says, ""The TrueType Symbol font in the font suitcase 'Symbol' in the Fonts folder is not MathType's". If you are receiving that message, please see our TSN regarding having the wrong version of the Symbol font installed on your computer.


These messages occur because the fonts installed by MathType are not available to your system, either because too many fonts are installed on your system or because the MathType fonts have been removed.


You need to make sure that you do not have too many fonts installed and that the fonts distributed with MathType are installed. This notice addresses the following topics:

1. How to tell if too many fonts are installed on your computer

2. Reinstalling the correct fonts for MathType

3. Large numbers of fonts

How to tell if too many fonts are installed on your computer

The maximum number of fonts that can be installed is limited by the Macintosh operating system.  Mac OS 7.x and 8.x limit you to a total of 128 loose TrueType fonts and font suitcases. This limit does not include PostScript (Type 1) fonts. Mac OS 9.0 has a much higher limit of 1024 fonts and font suitcases. 

Note: If you are using Mac OS 9.0, it is unlikely that an excess of fonts is causing your error message.

When you are starting up your Mac, fonts are loaded into memory in alphabetical order. All fonts in excess of the maximum are ignored. Read about the maximum number of fonts in Mac OS 7.x and 8.x on Apple's website for suggestions about how to reduce the number of fonts installed on your computer. You may also wish to read Apple's article about the maximum number of fonts in Mac OS 9 if you use OS 9 or are considering upgrading. After reducing the number of fonts and font suitcases in your Fonts folder, you should restart your computer before launching MathType or AppleWorks to see if the error message is still displayed.

Reinstalling the correct fonts for MathType

To reinstall the fonts needed by MathType, you should reinstall MathType. If you have an excess of fonts, reinstalling MathType will not correct this problem.

Large numbers of fonts

If you like to use a wide variety of fonts or need access to many fonts because you are a publisher or graphic artist, you should consider the effect a large number of fonts has on your computer's performance. A large number of fonts will increase the time it takes to start up your computer and applications that use fonts. A large number of fonts also increases the amount of RAM needed by your operating system. By moving fonts that you never use out of the Fonts folder, you can improve your computer's performance. We suggest that you move fonts into another folder, rather than deleting them. The MathType 3.6 and 3.7 installers create a "Fonts (Disabled)" folder in your system folder that works well for this purpose. Do not delete fonts unless you are certain that they are not used by any of the programs you have installed.

If you need to use a large variety of different fonts, you may want to consider purchasing Adobe Type Manager Deluxe, which allows you to organize fonts into sets which you can activate and deactivate, to optimize your use of your system's resources. Visit Adobe's website for more information about Adobe Type Manager Deluxe.

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