[OS X TeX] square cells and more

Will Robertson will at guerilla.net.au
Thu Dec 23 12:57:15 EST 2004

On 24 Dec 2004, at 3:10 AM, Arno Kruse wrote:

> Es irrt der Mensch so lang er strebt. (Goethe, Faust 1)

Hmmm. My babelfish translation says "It errs humans so long it 
strives", which I assume makes more sense in German :)

My reading of Hermann Hesse has made me want to read Goethe, but so far 
I haven't had the chance. I hope the translation into english does him 

> Please allow me some remarks anyhow:
> 1. Square cells are in my opinion (maybe I am completely wrong) a sort 
> of elementar modules. I wonder why it is complicated that way to 
> produce them.

I think this is just a matter of philosophy. Generally, it is simply 
sufficient to specify the text you'd like in a table and let LaTeX lay 
out everything as it sees fit. I don't consider my solution optimal 
since the text doesn't look (to me) perfectly vertically centred for 
all font sizes (I admit I only looked for Computer Modern, assuming my 
solution would work approximately for every font).

I think that looking at a large sample of typeset tabular material that 
a small minority actually requires square cells; the difficulty in 
LaTeX is that the vertical space has been specified in the tabular 
environment and is transparent to the user. (And incidentally can be 
quite ugly unless the booktabs package is used.)

> 2. Other users may have different solutions to produce square cells; I 
> am interested to learn how they have solved the difficulties, you may 
> write me off list, if you like.

I would also be interested, but I am not optimistic about receiving 
replies; the Mac OS X TeX list is fairly small in the scheme of things 
although there are many smart and clever people here.

> 3. Problems of this manner are not specific Mac-problems, and so I 
> first tried to find a solution in comp.text.tex. Do you think anyhow 
> that it is useful and adequate to discuss them in this list?

I think it is better to ask first on comp.text.tex, and then later in 
more specific lists such as this one if no satisfactory answer is 
given. Having said that, I didn't think too much about Arno's problem 
until he emailed me privately :)

> 4.  If the answer is yes: There are certainly more "little problems" 
> like mine and a lot of interesting and helpful solutions - why not 
> announce your questions and answers here?

Certainly, a simple LaTeX document like the one I posted does no one 
any harm and helps people searching for solutions to similar problems 
in the the future if their problem is sufficiently similar.

> 5. Will, you have written
> \settoheight\fontheight{(}.
> I have no idea why you have chosen just this brace.

Not sure, either :)
I just wanted a height that would always be about that which would be 
appropriate to centre the text around -- any uppercase letter would 
probably also work. You could try adjusting this character (maybe to an 
uppercase character instead) to see if it makes any difference -- but I 
don't think it would *too* much, although a brace extends lower than 
the baseline as opposed to most uppercase letters.

Glad to be of service; happy holidays, if you have them now!

Will Robertson

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