[texhax] could someone give me an explanation as to why fontsize fails with an overfull box

Peter Flynn peter at silmaril.ie
Mon Jan 14 17:49:07 CET 2019

On 14/01/2019 14:19, Carlos wrote:
> Yes, I agree with you and Peter,  but partially with your comment
> about the engine. If you were to have a parbox or minipage instead,
> everything would be different, 

The text will be typeset the same way, regardless of whether it is in
the open page or a \vbox, \parbox, minipage, etc (they are all boxes in TeX)

> but both are to my understanding, restricted to the page.

I think in the sense you mean, yes. In fact a \vbox can be used for
storage, and applied later, so it doesn't have to be used on the
*current* page; but its contents do have to *fit* on a single page or less.

> One of the best ways that I could probably - not fully - articulate 
> it, is by the mental representation of a box that should indeed come 
> last, only after other extraneous elements that are perhaps
> necessary but not fully required for its construction, which are
> fully taking shape, right after the page dimensions.

I'm not quite sure I understand this.

> And pardon me if I sound naive, and I'm trying not to sound
> redundant either, and feel free to correct me here, but if one were
> to think of a dash, is normally acceptable that this dash is to be
> loaded, regardless of whatever given layout is specified, by having,
> as convention currently holds, to have it included in between a word
> that is to be hyphenated.

It is only included in the word if it is typed manually, for example a
fixed hyphen ("long-term objective"), non-breaking hyphen (\nobreakdash-
in AMSMath), or a discretionary hyphen (helico\-pter).

In normal words you do not insert hyphens: they are created
automatically by TeX when needed.

> But where is the common sense at, in writing it [the dash] before or
> in between the characters of the word is not finalized, if the word
> is not taking any shape in the end. 

I don't think I understand that.

> One would expect that the hyphenated word "rea-son" entails having
> human input the same way it was done in the past. 

Yes, you just type "reason". If it comes towards the end of a typeset
line, and the spacing has already been adjusted and tested to see if it
is possible to make the line fit with space alone, and it cannot, THEN
TeX will hyphenate the word.

> There is no doubt that the norm to write a word is usually for the
> given language's syllables. 

It varies with the language. US English and UK English have different
rules, for example.

> But it makes no difference what the concomitants are in this time and
> age, as long as the word is finalized with the dash or dasher that
> separates it or splits it up and the page that its being shipped out
> reflects it.

Yes, *how* the hyphen gets there is not visible in the output. All you
can see is its presence, not the logic behind it.

> The same thing can be said about a box.


> In the case of tables and the like, why does the glue does not
> supersede a character before the carriage return goes ahead and
> spit it all out, has simply left me pondering.

Me too, I'm afraid. I don't understand what the problem is.

> At this point it seems clear to me, that if the tabular mechanism is
> unable to cope with a mandatory argument that was purposely left out,
> why isn't the engine taught to deal with it?

It is: it emits an error message because the error must be corrected by
a human, not the computer.

If you mean, "why is TeX not more forgiving of the omission of mandatory
arguments?" then answer is probably "because Knuth wrote it that way" :-)


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