[tex-live] TL2005 for Windows: paper size revisited

gnwiii at gmail.com gnwiii at gmail.com
Fri Mar 24 01:49:22 CET 2006

On 3/23/06, Martin Schröder <martin at oneiros.de> wrote:
> On 2006-03-22 17:13:07 -0500, Harriet B Borton wrote:
> > PS All this seems like cruel and unusual punishment for using letter
> > paper. (Admittedly this is a BAD THING, but most of us have no
> > choice ;-)
> Use LaTeX or ConTeXt and you can set the papersize in the document.

Things are different now that people are using pdf workflows.

I often deal with multi-author documents that get passed around the
globe.  Author A in North America gets a draft from author B, who
lives in Germany.  The first thing A does is  run the file thru TeX
and send it to the printer.  With .dvi files, the document could use
A4 paper, but dvips gets the final say, so in practice both authors
get the same layout, just different margins.

Today, using pdflatex, if the document uses the local default, all is
well until author A reports a typo on page N, which is on page M in
author B's copy, resulting in a lengthy exchange of emails before
minds can meet.  If the document explicitly sets the page size (to
A4), the printer then ignores all jobs while waiting for someone to
insert A4 paper.  Many people try to fool the printer by adjusting the
tray to "A4", which just produces jams when given letter paper.

Many long-time TeX users have their own styles, especially for
book-length projects.
I looked at one today that "borrowed" from an older version of eplain
that had explicit sizes coded as 8.5in by 11in (current eplain uses

I'd prefer defaults designed to ensure that the most common cases (A4
and letter) get the same paragraph layout and page breaks.  Rescaling
PDF's for printing as Hans mentioned sometimes produces artifacts
(such as invisible "minus" signs), so it would be better to print A4
on letter or vv at 1 to 1 scaling with some intelligent cropping to
avoid bad margins.

> Links:
> - International standard paper sizes http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/iso-paper.html
>   "The United States, Canada, and in part Mexico, are today the
>   only industrialized nations in which the ISO standard paper
>   sizes are not yet widely used."
>   "If you purchase new office or printing equipment in North
>   America, it might be wise to pay attention whether the
>   equipment is suitable for use with A4 paper. When you make
>   inquiries, best indicate to vendors that ISO 216 compatibility
>   of equipment is of concern to you."
>   "Although it is rarely advertised, ISO A4 laser printer and
>   copying paper, as well as suitable files and folders, are
>   available today from many U.S. office supply companies."
> - U.S. Metric Association (USMA)  http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/

I actually tried to buy A4 paper in Nova Scotia once, mainly for
reports being submitted to European agencies.  Yes it is available,
but paper is perishable so the sellers don't want to get stuck with
inventory.  As a result, the minimum order was a full shipping pallet.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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