Take the 2-minute tour ×
TeX - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Greyness, or typographic color is the apparent blackness of a block of text. I would be curious how you deal with improving it in TeX. How much can TeX's inherent line-breaking algorithm be fine-tuned to obtain the best solution?

(Edit: Rephrased the question.)

share|improve this question
I'm afraid that I don't understand the question. Could you clarify it and explain exactly what aspect of TeX you are asking about? –  Loop Space Aug 4 '10 at 8:52
Discussions should be "community wiki" - btw: I think that your question is design related, not TeX, but you should clarify. –  topskip Aug 4 '10 at 8:57
Could you clarify what do you mean by "grey" or "grey value"? –  Juan A. Navarro Aug 4 '10 at 10:49
Grayness is also called typographic color see: businessdictionary.com/definition/typographic-color.html . Microtypographic extensions should probably be used with great care. I was interested to see how much TeX's inherent line-breaking algorithm can be fine-tuned to obtain best solution. –  helcim Aug 4 '10 at 14:57
@Caramdir: AFAIK that's not possible - once wikied, always wikied. (That's certainly true on MathOverflow, maybe not here though, but it would almost certainly need moderator powers if it were possible.) –  Loop Space Aug 4 '10 at 15:47
show 3 more comments

3 Answers 3

Perfect grayness, for typical text, is possible only at the expense of ugliness somewhere else. Clearly, allowing arbitrary hyphenation will make perfect grayness much easier, and forbidding hyphenation will make it much harder.

Conversely, relaxing grayness would make perfect hyphenation (i.e. none) much easier.

Typography can often be improved by rewriting to fit the context (measure = text width, and location on the page).

TeX's big achievement in line breaking are, in my view, the use of dynamic programming, and the care, experience and diligence applied to the many details involved in the problem.

A large part of the art of typesetting is the art of breaking things, but gracefully. Best results will always require an element of hand adjustment, but TeX does a good job automatically, most of the time.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I guess you mean the gray value of a page. The microtype package improves that.

Other things you could do: In some books the headings are gray so the page looks more evenly gray.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I'm no expert. But, it appears that the easiest-win way to improve the greyness of the page is to use the microtype package (as @andre-r noted).

This is supported in pdfLaTeX. It's not at present supported in XeTeX, and I can't remember if it's supported in LuaTeX. However both of those implementation do anticipate supporting it eventually, if I understand correctly. It can make quite a difference, especially to narrow columns.

There's some parenthetical discussion of the package on stackoverflow, and you might find more in comp.text.tex archives.

share|improve this answer
It is supported in lualatex. –  Caramdir Aug 4 '10 at 13:05
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.