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In a comment to my answer to Drawing a rectangle along the border of a circle, Peter Grill said that he read that the minimal class should not be used for a Minimal Working Example. I wonder why, and which class should I use instead?

BTW: Is it preferable to use article or scrartcl, i.e. the standard classes or the ones form the KOMA-Script bundle?

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Ah. Thanks. Shall I delete this question or vote to close it as duplicate? – Tobi Jan 24 '12 at 8:58
If the subject is not KOMA-Script specific, better use article, as not everybody has the KOMA-Script bundle installed. For normal use I recommend scrartcl though. – Stefan Kottwitz Jan 24 '12 at 8:58
@Tobi Let's close it as duplicate, so it would point to the other question, so a user can find the way to there if his search query matches your words, not the other question. – Stefan Kottwitz Jan 24 '12 at 9:00
A real-life example where minimal didn't work is here: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/84195/… – doncherry Nov 25 '12 at 17:22
up vote 55 down vote accepted

The minimal class doesn't define size changing commands, so any example that relies on them won't work. It doesn't set \parindent, nor many other useful parameters, among which \tabcolsep: tabular environments will not show properly.

The "really minimal" class for typesetting purposes is article.

As David Carlisle and Joseph Wright remark, the minimal class was written just for testing, so it doesn't feature anything for typesetting real documents (other than setting \normalsize as any class should do).

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I would add to this that the minimal class exists for historical reasons (it was useful in 1993/4 when computers were much less powerful than they are today). The name of the class has regrettably led people to believe that it is intended for minimal examples, which was never the case. – Joseph Wright Jan 24 '12 at 9:34
How depressing it is to be old enough to have been involved in implementing historical artifacts:-) Yes, actually the main motivating use for that class was testing the design of the latex2e package and class loading mechanism, just to check that there were not implied hidden dependencies on the standard article/report/book classes (which were of course the only ones existing for a while). – David Carlisle Jan 24 '12 at 11:53
You mean, such as the pyramids? Did you draw the plans, or were you just in charge of the hieroglyphs? – Michael Palmer Jan 24 '12 at 18:11

Having read through the answers at the thread that Joseph linked to in the comments, I think that a practical answer to this question is:

If you're not sure whether to use minimal or not, don't use minimal.

A corollary of that for this site (and other places where your code may be viewed by others less Knowledgeable in the Ways of TeX) would be:

If there's a possibility that someone who doesn't know about the minimal class might, from reading your code, start using it, don't use it.

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is one allowed to generalise that last "rule"? it would seem to me a good precept for never publishing any code (for example, .dtx files, which use a class which is widely inappropriate). – wasteofspace Jan 24 '12 at 13:46
I have been posting code with minimal, because I saw others do it. Maybe moderators(and other high profile/friendly users) could make comments when newbies does it!? (just like they need constantly to tell people to make MWE and not to say; Thank you) – Hans-Peter E. Kristiansen Mar 9 '13 at 17:48
@wasteofspace Surely the crucial point is that there is no positive reason to use minimal so, when there are disadvantages, there is no possibility of benefits outweighing them. Whereas that is not true of other specialist classes where you can't just as soon substitute minimal. – cfr Jan 4 at 2:13
Doesn't the corollary entail a further corollary which is that you should never use minimal in posts on this site. (Isn't there always the possibility...? Even if you say 'don't do this at home!' somebody will fail to read it or do it anyway or forget or...) – cfr Jan 4 at 2:15

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