[pdftex] a4 vs letter showdown...

Robert Sim simra at cs.ubc.ca
Mon Jun 28 19:54:53 CEST 2004


The subject line probably prompts most of you to hit delete 
automatically.  I've googled for the answer to this but haven't found 
one succint solution that works.

I've tinkered my pdflatex setup to 'do the right thing' (TM) by default 
and produce letter-page sized paper.

Now, I want to produce an A4 document.  I don't want to tinker with the 
setup because I shouldn't have to edit the global configuration every 
time I need to change paper size.  Let's assume that I'm joe user and I 
can't edit the global config. I'm looking for a solution that achieves 
the desired result, either through one or two changes to my latex 
source, or with one or two command line arguments to pdflatex.

The result should produce a document that is not only a4 formatted, but 
acroread indicates is a4 formatted.  IMHO, anything different is a bug.

In an ideal world \documentclass{a4paper}[article]  should do the trick 
but it doesn't. In fact, it doesn't seem to do anything. IMHO, that's a 
bug too.

I don't want a solution that forces me to convert all my figures to eps 
and run dvips.  pdflatex should be able to produce correctly formatted 
documents.  However, notwithstanding the figures, a good solution will 
produce the same, correct output using either one of pdflatex and 

I don't want a solution that forces me to \usepackage spurious packages, 
like hyperref.  That's a bug too.

Of course, a correct solution should also work the other way-- one could 
easily take a system defaulting to A4 and produce a one-off letter-size 
document without too much pain.

Sorry for sounding cranky.  The lack of a simple feature for setting the 
page size correctly is frustrating.  The solutions I've tried either 
require global config changes or produce strange margins and incorrect 
acroread page size.   It may be the specialized class file I'm using, 
but if I had access to how things would work using article I could 
narrow down the problem.

% pdflatex -v
pdfTeX (Web2C 7.4.5) 3.14159-1.10b


Robert Sim

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