When I start Emacs 24.4.1 (with -Q parameter), my welcome screen looks quite strange:

enter image description here

This text is in plain English, right? What is so special about it that causes this peculiar rendering? For all other buffers everything is fine... There are 'buttons', but buttons in other windows work OK. Perhaps it has something to do with the logo?

I would like to know

  1. The cause of the problem;
  2. How to fix it.
  • What operating system is this on? Where did you get the Emacs binary? Have you tried other Emacs versions/builds? Nov 16, 2014 at 13:20
  • @Gilles, Arch Linux (xfce4), from official repositories, older versions worked fine (well, I think so). I cannot observe this bug anywhere else (neither in other buffers nor in text displayed by system), only on Emacs welcome/about screen. Nov 16, 2014 at 13:25
  • I observed this behaviour once while trying out a lot of crazy fonts. Never with the default font, though.
    – Malabarba
    Nov 16, 2014 at 13:50
  • @Malabarba, It seems like 'PT Sans' works OK, for example. I still can't get why 'Inconsolata' and 'Monospace' failed. Nov 16, 2014 at 13:55
  • I've had a similiar issue when trying to display a bitmap font that was present on my system, but not zipped. Emacs does default on a fresh Arch Linux install to displaying bitmap fonts, so that might be why.
    – wasamasa
    Dec 20, 2014 at 13:40

1 Answer 1


This thing happens because font that set for variable-pitch face is not installed on your system. So, for example, I had Sans Serif. There are also other faces that inherit font from variable-pitch.

So, to fix the actual problem, we need to change font for this face. You can do it two ways:

  1. Invoke M-x list-faces-display, then navigate to variable-pitch, edit it changing its font;

  2. You can directly change font for this face in your init-file, for example:

    (set-face-attribute 'variable-pitch
                         :family "Inconsolata")

    or, alternatively:

      '(variable-pitch ((t (:family "Inconsolata")))))

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