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As I'm located in Europe the standard paper size is A4. So far I was normally using either \documentclass[a4paper]{article} or even simply \documentclass{article}. Recently I spotted sections (1.1) and (1.2) in An essential guide to LaTeX2ε usage and realized that I might be doing something wrong.

Neither of the above possibilities is a deadly sin, but I'm confused with respect to the possibility of using scrartcl.cls class from the KOMA -Script bundle instead. Is it superior to the ones I'm using?

The KOMA-Script option yields smaller margins (which I like), but on the other hand results in a slightly longer (in terms of number of pages) document. At least for one testcase I tested. This is, to me, somehow counter intuitive.

What is the relation between the 2.5 possibilities? Which one is preferable for a european user?

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Related: Why should I not use the Koma-Script classes. Maybe this already answers your question? – Daniel Jan 31 '13 at 8:32
Customizing the margins is quite easy with article using geometry. If you're writing a paper for a submission, then it's probably better using the generic article so as to be sure of not using the wealth of commands and functions provided by KoMa-Script. – egreg Jan 31 '13 at 9:08
For european user I would suggest to use KOMA-Script, because the "european typesetting" is build in, including using paper=A4. The original document classes (article, report and book) are build for English typography with paper letter, english hyphenating etc. If you want to publish your article ask the publisher what he needs ... – Kurt Jan 31 '13 at 12:17
@Kurt While my understanding also is that the standard LaTeX classes follow Anglo-American typographic conventions, I wouldn’t list paper size and hyphenation patterns as instantiations of that; the former can be adapted very easily with a built-in option or a global setting (and I think in the UK, A4 is actually the standard as well), the latter can be changed similarly easily with babel, which you, to be precise, would actually need for British English, too. A salient example of Anglo-American typography would be the indentation of new paragraphs vs. extra space between paragraphs. – doncherry Jan 31 '13 at 16:46
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Besides featuring smaller margins, the KOMA-Script classes also use a default font size of 11pt (instead of 10pt as the standard classes) -- that's why the number of pages in your test document increased. Smaller margins as well as a larger font size are good typographic strategies to deal with A4 paper; see Why are default LaTeX margins so big? for details and other options.

You can emulate KOMA-Script's settings with the standard classes plus packages like geometry, but if you're looking for an "out-of-the-box" solution for A4 paper, the KOMA-Script classes are preferable.

EDIT: Here's an emulation of KOMA-Script's settings using article/geometry:






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