[OS X TeX] OT: where lines align

Andreas Gschwendtner gschwendtner at gmx.com
Thu Nov 18 04:42:05 EST 2004


I don't think I can fully answer your question, but indeed I was 
stumbling over the same problem  when I was writing my thesis (using 
LaTeX with KOMA-Script), so may be I can contribute a little bit...

Short version: It is very hard (practically impossible) to do this kind 
of "grid-typesetting" (where lines align over a page spread) in LaTeX 
(if \flushbottom is active = all the pages are of the same height). I 
think it is possible in ConTeXt, though. For some people, this is the 
main reason for using ConTeXt and not LaTeX (AFAIK). I know I read it 
somewhere in the ConTeXt documentation by Hans Hagen, but don't 
remember where...

Longer version: In TeX there is the concept of horizontal and vertical 
"glue" (="flexible space"). This comes in very handy if you have lots 
of small figures, tables and *formulas*. Because TeX was written for 
mathematical typesetting primarily (= lots of formulas within the 
text), it was not that much of a problem, if lines didn't align across 
pages. In LaTeX, if you use the \flushbottom option (which is the 
default for two-sided documents), you have very little (no?) control 
over the amount of flexible space ("vertical glue") that is inserted 
between paragraphs, headings, floats and so on. This sometimes leads to 
very weird results if you have very short paragraphs and little text 
but lots of headings and many floats and tables. I think this behaviour 
is one of the biggest hindrances of producing really good typography 
with LaTeX.

If something I wrote is wrong, I would be happy if am corrected. I have 
been suffering from this shortcoming of LaTeX myself for a long time...


P.S.: You might be interested in the article "Book Design for TeX 
Users" by Philip Taylor which I can send to you off-list if you are 
interested (it is also available on the internet somewhere, maybe a 
google search will help...).

On 18. Nov 2004, at 00:51, Jan Anderssen wrote:

> \disclaimer{this is not mac specific, but i hope that all you helpful 
> knowledgeable people on this list will be sympathetic with my quest 
> for a nice looking page layout and not mind the question.}
> there are those _nice looking_ books where lines align across pages -- 
> maybe not each single one, but the majority of them. so two pages 
> would typically look like the ones below, and if you hold the page 
> against a lit background you see the lines on front and back be on the 
> same height.
> +-----------------------------+-----------------------------+
> |    the last section         |         the next section    |
> |                             |                             |
> |    yadda yadda yadda yadda  |  more words on this page    |
> |    other things to be said  |                             |
> |    text continues here too  |  BIGGER FONT HERE           |
> |    more yadda yadda around  |                             |
> |    this is additional text  |  we're mysteriously back    |
> |    which is saying nothing  |  on the same line height    |
> |    yadda yadda yadda yadda  |  as on the opposite page    |
> |                             |  etc.                       |
> |                             |                             |
> |                             |                             |
> |             - 2 -           |           - 3 -             |
> |                             |                             |
> +-----------------------------+-----------------------------+
> being no typesetter, i don't know what the appropriate typographic 
> terminology is, but it always seems to me like a one dimensional 
> version of grid systems (as in josef müller-brockmann).
> turns out that it is surprisingly difficult to google for something 
> like "can i do this thing in latex?" when you don't know the name of 
> "this thing".
> so my hope:
> people here will know the answer, or knows where i should (have) 
> look(ed) - please share your knowledge.
> thanks much in advance,
> jan
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