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I am searching for a good combination of font-size, font-family, font-color, background-color, line-width, line-spacing, paragraph-spacing, indentation, tabulation, heading, etc.

Which combination of them make the most comfortable to read on either printed version or electronic (pdf) version in a long time interval?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

My first thought would be to look at ConTeXt extensive documentation, available on PRAGMA ADE website but also on the ConTeXt wiki where there are updated version of the user's manual on typography, fonts and page design. For online reading, ConTeXt and its interactive facilities is definitively a good option. Moreover, the Typographic Programming draft textbook has a lot of good stuff that may be of interest to you since it deals with "general aspects of document design and the translation of design into a style".

Also, Edward Tufte has good recommendations throughout his website (e.g., Tufte book fonts), and there's a LaTeX class for textbook and article, inspired from his textbooks. You will see that default font (serif and sans), page layout, floats location, etc. are proposed that help to produce a very elegant design when printed.

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Some thought went into LaTeX's default and it is pretty good.

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It is not the most comfortable appearance to read. I think there is a survey in this field but I forgot the link. –  xport Dec 29 '10 at 4:31
    
I think it's very good for reading the printer version. Computer Modern isn't so great for screen-reading, though. For that, I'd prefer charter. –  frabjous Dec 29 '10 at 5:38
    
While LaTeX does many things right by default, there are exceptions - for starters, font size and text margins in the standard classes are pretty bad for letter- and A4-paper. –  lockstep Dec 29 '10 at 11:27
    
@lockstep: Yes, for A4 paper there are the KOMA classes, even if I think they have too wide lines. –  Ben Dec 30 '10 at 0:14

Have a look at Charles Hedrick's Guidelines for Typography in NBCS, which is based on Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style (sometimes referred to as the typographers' bible). Hedrick writes about (among other things) overall page design, line spacing, justification and word spacing, special characters, paragraphs, headings, and various typographical refinements. Also included are two sections about fonts (serif and sans serif) and a section about online documents.

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Here is a part of my settings from my own class:

...
\LoadClass[a4paper,10pt]{book}
\RequirePackage[T1]{fontenc}
\RequirePackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\let\barOrig\bar
\RequirePackage[de,expert,uprightgreek]{lucbmath}% for math
\RequirePackage{libertine}% for roman and sans serif
\RequirePackage[scaled=0.85]{luximono}% for typewriter
%
\RequirePackage{geometry}
\geometry{paperheight=239mm,paperwidth=169mm,tmargin=5mm,
       textwidth=124mm,textheight=195mm,    
       rmargin=22mm,heightrounded,includeheadfoot,
      headheight=5mm,headsep=8mm,foot=18mm,
      marginparsep=2mm,marginparwidth=18mm}
%
\RequirePackage{babel}
\defineshorthand{"`}{\guillemotright}
\defineshorthand{"'}{\guillemotleft}
\usepackage[autostyle]{csquotes}
\RequirePackage[originalcommands]{ragged2e}
\RequirePackage{varioref}

\RequirePackage{textcomp}
\RequirePackage{microtype}
\RequirePackage{setspace}
%
\RequirePackage{eurosym}
\RequirePackage{paralist}
\RequirePackage{titletoc}
\RequirePackage{amsmath}
\RequirePackage{dsfont}
\RequirePackage{esvect}
\RequirePackage{pifont}
 ...
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it seems you don't use this setting in PSTricks document class. –  xport Dec 29 '10 at 12:28
    
no, that is different, because lucidabr (math) and luximono are not free fonts –  Herbert Dec 29 '10 at 12:30

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