{lengths} is for questions dealing with measurements in TeX. If your question is about the spacing between document elements, use {spacing} instead.

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178
votes
4answers
55k views

Difference between \textwidth, \linewidth and \hsize

The three lengths \textwidth, \linewidth and \hsize seem to all hold the width of the current line. At least I never saw some real difference between \textwidth and \linewidth in my code. Both seem to ...
89
votes
2answers
59k views

Lengths and when to use them

There are many lengths in LaTeX. For instance, \enskip, \enspace, \quad, \parskip, \smallskip, ... Some of them are mostly used for vertical spacing, some others are mostly used for horizontal ...
54
votes
3answers
14k views

Get width of a given text as length

Is there a TeX command that returns the width of a given text as length value, so that I can use the result directly as a length argument of another command? I mean, I would like to have a command ...
39
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a \show for lengths?

The \show command is extremely useful for figuring out what's going on with a particular macro. Similarly, using \the can tell me the value of a counter. I'd like to know if there's something ...
31
votes
3answers
765 views

Is there a picture showing all the lengths used in lists?

I want to adjust the length parameters in a list (happens to be to make it more condensed, but that's not relevant). I do this infrequently enough that I don't remember all the lengths that are ...
29
votes
2answers
544 views

What is truecm?

In examples found around the web, some people specify lengths such as width=5truecm with \includegraphics or the geometry package. How is this different from regular 5cm?
25
votes
5answers
8k views

How can I change the indentation in quote and quotation environments and commands?

I need to change the indentation that the quote and quotation environments and commands employ. I assume that there is some length I need to set, but I've googled around, and cannot find what I am ...
25
votes
1answer
421 views

Using elastic lengths — when do they work?

I was wondering why elastic lengths like \fill seem to work only under certain conditions. For instance if I write A \hspace{\fill} B I get A left aligned, B right aligned as wanted. If however ...
22
votes
5answers
359 views

Test if a given control sequence is a length register

I'm in need of a macro which receives a control sequence as argument and needs to branch if this macro is actually a length (of any kind, e.g. dimen, skip etc.) or "just" a normal macro (including one ...
22
votes
2answers
27k views

What is the difference between \hspace*{\fill} and \hfill?

In the memoir manual on page 183 ,this example is given: \begin{figure} \centering \hspace*{\fill} {ILLUSTRATION 1} \hfill {ILLUSTRATION 2} \hspace*{\fill} \caption{Example float with two ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

How do I get the exact dimension of a picture in LaTeX?

This question is pretty simple: I'd like to have the possibility to get the exact size of a picture in LaTeX with, for example, the macro \the. In fact, I've founded the way \settoheight{} and so on, ...
21
votes
2answers
661 views

Which is better: a dimension or a macro?

When messing around with TikZ/PGF then I frequently find myself wanting to store a length for later use. By "length" here, I mean the word in its non-TeX meaning. As I'm doing stuff in TikZ/PGF then ...
20
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the difference between \def and \newlength?

I wrote the following LaTeX documents. \documentclass[11pt]{book} \newlength{\mywidth} \newlength{\myheight} \setlength{\mywidth}{85mm} \setlength{\myheight}{112mm} \newcommand{\setpagesize}[2]{% ...
20
votes
2answers
3k views

What are the differences between \newdimen, \newskip and \newlength?

What are the differences between \newdimen, \newskip, and\newlength? When should I use each of them? Please give me a non-trivial example for each case.
20
votes
2answers
2k views

How to preserve the same parskip in minipage

I have following structure: \begin{document} Paragraph1. Paragraph2. \begin{minipage} Some paragraph1. Some paragraph2. \end{minipage} \end{document} How can I make the same spacing between ...
19
votes
3answers
15k views

Determine text width

For sizing figures in LaTeX it's helpful to know how wide the text is so that figures can be sized to match without rescaling. LaTeX provides \textwidth for reference by other commands, e.g. ...
19
votes
1answer
418 views

Is there an `ex` unit equivalent for the capital 'X' in LaTeX

In LaTeX, the ex unit represents the height of a lowercase 'x' in the current font. Is there a length in LaTeX that represents the height of a capital 'X'?
18
votes
4answers
2k views

A line of length \textwidth in TikZ

Why does the following latex document: \documentclass{minimal} \usepackage{tikz} \begin{document} \noindent \begin{tikzpicture} \draw (0,0) -- (\textwidth,0); \end{tikzpicture} ...
17
votes
4answers
481 views

Scaling a glue in TeX

is there a possibility to scale a glue in TeX? Consider the following example: \newskip\foo \newskip\bar \foo=10pt plus 2pt minus 3pt \bar=2.5\foo\relax \showthe\foo \showthe\bar \bye When ...
17
votes
2answers
357 views

Defining a dimension with or without @

If I am writing a TeX package (as one can find such on CTAN), there are following approaches to define a new dimension length that should be changeable by a user of that package. Approach A: Define ...
17
votes
2answers
436 views

How to have a precise control on the size of each page?

I would like to produce a pdf document whose pages have various lengths and fixed widths. An easier situation The easiest case would be for instance: the first page has a length of 10cm all the ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

How can I know the default PGF line width?

Is there some macro that will tell me what the default PGF line width is? I have tried creating my own macro by cloning \pgflinewidth before it has been modified, i.e. ...
15
votes
3answers
272 views

How to print a length accurately and with user-controlled rounding?

Tried the printlen package, but it seems to not understand what 2.5in means: \documentclass{minimal} \usepackage{printlen} \uselengthunit{in} \begin{document} \newlength{\advertwidth} ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Why doesn't \settoheight of \parbox work?

Consider the following code: \documentclass[a4paper]{letter} \usepackage{calc} \usepackage{printlen} \newsavebox{\foobox} \newlength{\fooboxheight} \savebox{\foobox}{ ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Conversion pt to mm or cm

Is there any way how to convert pt to mm or cm in plain TeX?
12
votes
5answers
959 views

Push/Pop or save a length/dimension?

Is it possible to push or pop a length like parindent? I want to change it temporarily but reset it soon after. I have a solution but looking for something a little nicer. I'll post it as an answer.
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Where is the left-hand margin?

I'm working on the TikZ-from-TeX-SX package, specifically developing the code for putting equation numbering at places within a tikzpicture environment. To do this, I need to know where the text ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Tikz - move/reposition arrow decorations (arrowhead length/size)

I'm trying to build a 'dimension line' macro for Tikz: \documentclass{article} % note: with \documentclass{minimal}, this example fails with: % ! Undefined control sequence. % ...
11
votes
3answers
560 views

Measure the length of the lowercase alphabet

In the memoir manual speaks about measuring the length of the lowercase alphabet in order to decide the numbers of characters per line. Can this be done with LaTeX?
11
votes
3answers
632 views

Why is a 10bp picture environment not 10bp?

Example: \documentclass{article} \begin{document} \newlength{\picwidth} \setlength{\unitlength}{1bp} \settowidth{\picwidth}{\begin{picture}(10,10)\end{picture}} \typeout{width: \the\picwidth} ...
11
votes
2answers
278 views

Other than syntax what is the difference between \dimen0= and \setlength{}{}?

I have been browsing around for a while trying to find an answer to the above question, and I have found some similar questions along with there answers, so I already have a vague idea how to answer ...
11
votes
2answers
142 views

Does a space belong after pt?

Does a space always belong after pt, e.g. as used in \hskip1pt? If a space is used, are there situations where a space will appear where it is not intended? If no space is used, will pt be ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

String replacement in LaTeX

I'd like to know how to replace parts of a string in LaTeX. Specifically I'm given a measurement (like 3pt, 10mm, etc) and I'd like to remove the units of that measurement (so 3pt-->3, 10mm-->10, ...
11
votes
2answers
3k views

How to use \widthof as parameter to \kern

I sometimes encounter a problem when I attempt to use \widthof from the calc package, and don't know why. In the past I have just worked around it using a two step process of defining a \newdimen{} ...
11
votes
2answers
380 views

Define and set length in one command

Sorry this might be a very simple question, I am trying to cleanup a style file, and would like to write a command that basically runs the following code: ...
11
votes
1answer
860 views

Why do \setcounter and \addtocounter commands have global effect, while \setlength and \addtolength commands obey the normal scoping rules?

The \setcounter and \addtocounter commands have global effect, while the \setlength and \addtolength commands obey the normal scoping rules. Why were they designed like this? Why are ...
10
votes
4answers
271 views

why can't \the be expanded?

\documentclass{article} \begin{document} \tracingmacros=2 \newlength{\len} \setlength{\len}{1cm} we want to write out \verb$\len$ in cm \the\len { oops, answer in pt} \setlength{\len}{0.0352\len} ...
10
votes
3answers
501 views

Retrieve length of a character

I'm creating a custom command which basically prints an horizontal line, a character and another horizontal line. The code would be ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between \fboxsep=1cm and \setlength{\fboxsep}{1cm}?

Question has been written above.
10
votes
2answers
933 views

What is the plain TeX equivalent of \settowidth?

The \settowidth command, which sets a width equal to the width of some text, is described at Get width of a given text as length and How to set the width of the label of a description to the width of ...
10
votes
2answers
271 views

Compute remaining horizontal space in align environment

I use align* often and sometimes it is preferable to add text to the right hand side of an equation instead of using \intertext, or \shortintertext, which tends to interrupt the math flow. This is ...
10
votes
2answers
4k views

Getting length as number?

I have probably formulated the question wrong, as I don't know the Tex internals - but this is what I mean; consider this example: \newcommand{\myNum}{2} \newlength{\myLength} ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Nominal values for \parindent and other paragraph metrics

In memoir, when I run \documentclass{memoir} \begin{document} \showthe\parindent \end{document} I get: 17.62482 pt My questions are : Why that value? This number seems to capture something ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I set \itemsep to rubber length?

I know that I can set \itemsep to any length like this, \setlength{\itemsep}{0pt} But if I want to set \itemsep to a rubber length (e.g. \bigskip), how do I do this? \setlength{\itemsep}{\bigskip} ...
10
votes
2answers
263 views

Convert from physical dimensions to axis cs coordinate values

In answering PGFPlots: Howto draw a label at a zero of a function?, I got stuck on converting a length in pt to the actual coordinate value in the axis cs system. Here I only need the x value, but ...
10
votes
1answer
3k views

How to fix TikZ node's height with \heightof?

I can use \widthof{text} to fix a minimum width of a TikZ's node. I would like to use \heightof{text} to fix its minimum height but it doesn't work. I just want to fill my nodes with one word but I ...
10
votes
1answer
103 views

How to set a box to a rubber length width

Problem I'm trying to create fancy section heading using titlesec. I need to put the section name into a \parbox to have line breaks. I want the parbox to extend to the far right margin, but I don't ...
10
votes
3answers
295 views

What is the most convenient way to do general-arithmetic calculations involving lengths?

I know LaTeX can store at least two types of numbers: Dimensionless quantities (i.e. 1, pi, etc.) and lengths (i.e. 1pt, \textwidth, etc.). Is there some convenient, general way to do calculations, ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

How to enable use of minus and plus in tex documents?

I see many cls files using plus and minus operators to set lengths. How can I use these operators (or some equivalent macro(s)) to do something like the following? \setlength{\lengtha}{.5\textwidth} ...
9
votes
3answers
533 views

A command line Latex calculator?

I often need to check what a length expression like "20pt + 2 cm" would resolve to -- and of course, I'd rather do something quick on the command line / shell / terminal, than typing ...