[tex-live] page size bug or problem

Rainer J.H. Brandt rjhb at bb-c.de
Sat Feb 20 16:07:20 CET 2010

Hello Dan,

you wrote:
> >I notice that nobody commented on what I said about DVI files produced
> >by plain tex (not LaTeX).  That's good, because I was wrong.
> >The DVI files _do_ reflect my page specifications, except that the page
> >height is always 8.435mm larger than what I requested.
> You left out the details: how do you request page size in
> plain tex? And do you mean text size or paper size?
In the first message of this thread, I wrote:

Running "tex sizetestplain.tex" produces sizetestplain.dvi with A4
size, with the following input in sizetestplain.tex:

(end of quote)

I wasn't thinking about the difference between paper size and
the size of what David Fuchs called a "page" in his DVI format
description reproduced in TugBoat Vol. 3 (1982), Nr. 2, pp. 14-19.

> The dvi format has no provision for paper size data. Setting
> \hsize and \vsize simple determines the width of paragraph
> lines and vertical amount of text (ignoring \headline and
> \footline) at which page breaks occur.

Thanks for making me aware of that.  So, my statement about
"A4 size" above doesn't make sense.  Rereading the TugBoat
article, I also notice that the vertical size given in the
DVI file isn't just height, but height plus depth.

> Paper sizes are determined by the dvi post-processors, as
> follows:
>   1. What paper is in the printer, if printed.
>   2. How xdvi (or whatever dvi previewer) is configure, if
>      viewed on screen (this is just to put a white
>      background rectangle on the screen).
>   3. How dvips is configured or by \special commands for
>      dvips, if dvips is used to generated ps.
>   4. How dvipdfm(x) is configured or by \special commands for
>      dvipdfm(x), if dvipdfm(x) is used to generated pdf.
>   5. How GSview (or whatever PS viewer) is configured, if ps
>      output is viewed on screen (again, just for the white
>      background).
>   6. If pdftex is use to produce pdf, the dimension registers
>      \pdfpageheight and \pdfpagewidth determine what paper size
>      is specified in the output file. Defaults are stored in the
>      format files.

Good to know that.

> The number 8.435mm is almost exactly 24pt, which is the extra
> space taken in plain tex for the footline (page number). Note
> that plain tex adds this on after the amount of space determined
> by \vsize. If you are measuring from top of text to bottom of
> page number, then that exactly accounts for the extra 8.435mm.
> Plain tex (in all distributions) has always behaved this way.

Ok, so my DVI files have a depth of 24pt.  I noticed that saying
\nopagenumbers doesn't change that.  However, finding out how
isn't important right now, as I'm not trying to solve a problem.
I'm only trying to understand what's happening.

Thanks again for helping with that.
Rainer J. H. Brandt
Email: rjhb at bb-c.de
Telefon: 02448/919126
Mobiltelefon: 0172/9593205

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