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I'm starting with LaTeX, and there are things that puzzle me. I'm trying to set a length that's the \textwidth minus (let's say for example) two inches. In the preamble, I wrote:


The compiler tells me:

! Undefined control sequence. <argument> \pblen 
l.21 \addtolength{\pblen}{-2in}
! You can't use `blank space  ' after \advance.
\addtolength #1#2-<\advance #1 
l.21 \addtolength{\pblen}{-2in}
! LaTeX Error: Missing \begin{document}.

I've just defined \bplen and what's that about a missing \begin{document}? Aren't I allowed to set lengths in the preamble?

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closed as too localized by clemens, lockstep, Stefan Kottwitz Nov 15 '12 at 17:04

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Is pblen a typo you made in the document? – Seamus Nov 26 '10 at 17:41
@Seamus: I'm not sure how to handle question like this one, but you were faster and should have gotten the upvote reputation. – lockstep Nov 26 '10 at 17:55
I feel shame. I do. Sorry. – eje211 Nov 26 '10 at 18:01
@lockstep Don't worry about it. Your answer included the useful \the trick which I'd forgotten about, so that's value added. But I am going to spend the next week trawling through all your posts on this site and downvoting every single one. – Seamus Nov 26 '10 at 18:56
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Could it be simply a typo? Your first and your second code line contain \bplen, but your third \pblen.

EDIT: Without the typo your code works as intended:




Value of textwidth: \the\textwidth

Value of bplen: \the\bplen

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I proofread it for typos maybe ten times! This is VERY embarrassing. Being new to LaTeX, I thought I'd done something wrong... – eje211 Nov 26 '10 at 18:00
Actually, I did not know about the \the command. This is VERY useful. Thanks. – eje211 Nov 26 '10 at 18:37
@eje211 typos are unavoidable. I spent some time today raging that LaTeX kept telling me that the vebratim environment doesn't exist... – Seamus Nov 26 '10 at 22:00

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