13 February 2009

Two questions on document preparation

1. Why are the default margins in LaTeX so wide? It's kind of useful, because it means that there's a lot of space to scribble in when editing, but it seems that by default they're wider than in just about any other program.

2. Why are dissertations usually double-spaced? I associate double-spaced with draft documents, because you can write things between the lines of text. But the dissertation isn't supposed to be a draft. It's supposed to be a final document!

6 comments:

plam said...

I think LaTeX margins are that wide so that you get about 10 words per line, which is supposedly optimal for scanning. Over-wide lines aren't as easy to read because your eyes are ready to go to the next line, but can't. (Hence the width of newspaper columns as well).

My PhD thesis is single-spaced. Can't remember about my MSc thesis.

equatorialmaths said...

1. Many LaTeX classes are designed to be used for publishing, and journal's page width is much smaller.

2. Lobby your uni to make this stupid double-spaced requirement removed. It must be stemming from the typewriter age...

thecooper said...

equatorialmaths is mostly right.

Ever seen a book galley? Even if the pages are quite large, the galley is printed with huge margins. It allows for an editor to make notes without spilling into the page that's going into the book.

Which makes sense, since TeX was designed as a typesetting system for book publishing. . .

Origin said...

Historically, Mathematicians have had problems with margins which aren't large enough.


(listen, someone had to say it.)

mindcorrosive said...

The large margins are supposedly to improve readability (though definitely not improving the environment, with all the paper wasted). Personally, I haven't noticed a significant effect, though it hurts when the margins are tinier than necessary. Generous margins can give the document a slick outlook [citation needed].

I somewhat agree to that, but still the default margins in LaTeX are too small for my needs.. My supervisors prefer having less pages per document (clinically tested!), even though the text is one and the same amount.

There's an explanation about the margin policy in the LaTeX wiki, and AFAIR, in \emph{LaTeX Companion}.

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/Page_Layout

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