[OS X TeX] suppress vertical line in table

Nathan Sanders Nathan.Sanders at williams.edu
Mon Jan 28 14:49:02 EST 2008

On Jan 28, 2008, at 1:57 PM, George Gratzer wrote:

> If you check my book, I point out that most vertical line should be  
> suppressed.

In general, for most ordinary tables, you're absolutely right.

However, there are many cases where various people may reasonably find  
that they want/need vertical lines.  For example, perceptual confusion  
matrixes are very difficult to read without vertical lines.  A  
mathematician writing about algorithms for filling in magic squares  
would certainly want vertical lines.  In linguistics, there are  
special tabular objects in Optimality Theory in which different kinds  
of vertical lines mark different meanings (solid for known dominance,  
dashed for unknown dominance).  I'm sure numerous other people in  
other fields could come up with plenty of other examples.

Of course, one might argue that such objects should be done as  
pictures, but by and large, these objects *are* tabular in nature,  
filled primarily with text, and you generally want that text to match  
exactly with the main body text, perhaps even making use of macros.   
This can be trivially guaranteed with the tabular environment; but  
it's not so trivial if you draw the object in a different program and  
import the graphics (you have to make sure that your drawing program  
has access to the same fonts that TeX does and that you can set the  
font sizes exactly the same, and of course, you have no access to your  

So, yes, in most ordinary data tables, vertical lines won't be needed  
and shouldn't be used, but an independent need for vertical lines in  
tables still exists, and it's a shame that they are not easier to deal  
with in TeX.  (I had to write my own package for doing Optimal Theory  
tableaux, because the tabular environment is just so abysmally  
insufficient for a variety of reasons.)


Nathan Sanders
Linguistics Program
Williams College

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