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It was recommended to me when I first started using LaTeX (not too long ago) and asked a question about footnotes to use Koma-Script's scrartcl class because of its /deffootnote command.

Browsing this site I keep reading that the Koma-Script classes are designed with European typographical conventions in mind.

What do I have to change in order to have Koma-Script's scrartcl class conform to American (USA) typographical conventions?

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Most non-USA users won't be familiar with the typographic conventions in the USA. It would help if you could list the more important ones. Hopefully, users can then suggest how to implement these conventions using the scrartcl class. – Marc van Dongen Jan 1 '13 at 5:41
@MarcvanDongen I certainly appreciate this. Unfortunately I'm not really sure of them myself. As a relatively new LaTeX user I've only recently starting becoming attuned to any typographical considerations. I was hoping that someone else would have more knowledge of them than I do and would have already made the necessary changes to scrartcl for their own purposes. – Dennis Jan 1 '13 at 5:47
It is not entirely clear to me which aspects of typography you're worried about. If it's just learning about the conventions, I suggest you drop the reference to scrartcl because other classes may be more promising. For example, have you had a look at the tufte-latex class that implements a page design based on Edward Tufte's (USA) books. If you're writing math papers you should have a look at the AmsMath documentation. – Marc van Dongen Jan 1 '13 at 6:20

Short answer: replace scrartcl in \documentclass by article or amsart, apa, asaetr, etc.

Long answer: As you comment, the scrartcl class, as well as others of the KOMA-Script bundle (as scrbook, scrreprt and scrlttr2) were designed with European (German) conventions in mind (based in script package that implemented the rules of Jan Tschichold in 1987 (“Ausgewählte Aufsätze über die Gestalt des Buches und der Typographie” (Selected Papers on book design and typography), 2nd printing, Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel.). Also the NTG classes (of ntgclass package) are "European" versions of standard classes.

I don't known much about American typographic conventions, but as these classes were created as European versions of the stan­dard classes (book, report, article and letter) that consequently are not European. In good Cartesian logic, this does not imply that article have a pure American design, but I think that we may mostly assume that ... At least the default paper size is the US letterpaper (11 by 8.5 inches) and not the usual A4 paper (297 by 210 mm) in Europe (the default in scrartcl class). And accordingly, the default font size is also smaller (10pt instead of 11pt).

In case of doubt, use a unquestionable (?) "American" class available in usual distribution, as those related by the Amer­i­can Math­e­mat­i­cal So­ci­ety (AMS), the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (APA), or the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Agri­cul­tural Engi­neers (ASAE).

(Disclaimer: This does not ensure fitting American conventions, neither is maintained by American pepople, nor it is an official or good design, only that is related with style of publications of a scientific American association.)

If you prefer the scrartcl class to maintain the font of titles or some other feature, it is better that you specify exactly what you want, as Marc van Dongen suggest, but setting the most evident differences (kind of paper, font size and margins) is very straightforward:

  top=1.2in, left=1.8in]{geometry}
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Thank you, this definitely goes a bit of the way towards what I want. But as you note they are the most straightforward differences. I was curious if someone knew what more obscure differences there are between American and European conventions. Differences that would, nonetheless, get me into trouble with American publishers. I'm curious about your use of geometry, though. I thought that typearea was KOMA-Script's replacement for the geometry package. Am I mistaken in believing this? – Dennis Jan 2 '13 at 20:09
@Dennis, taken from the KOMA-Script Guide: "The typearea package was not made to set up predefined margin values. If you have to do so you may use package geometry." – Fran Jan 2 '13 at 20:23

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