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In the question Why are default LaTeX margins so big?, it is explained very well why the side margins have the large size they have (compared to most Word processors): The smaller line width provides a better reading experience. What is explained less well is why the top and bottom margins have the extraordinary size they have. Suppose I want to print a book in A5 format using the code

\documentclass[twoside,a5paper]{memoir}

\usepackage{lipsum,microtype}

\begin{document}
    \noindent\lipsum[1-22]
\end{document}

The result is seen below. The size of the side margins indeed makes the line width perfect for comfortable reading. But I do not see what justifies having the top and bottom margins account for almost half of the entire height of the page. Why are the top and bottom margins so big in the standard page settings?

enter image description here

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    The first one who writes "possible duplicate of tex.stackexchange.com/questions/71172/… " goes directly to jail. – Gaussler Jan 14 '15 at 18:25
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    Have a look at the section about typearea in the KOMA-documentation as well as section 2 of the memoir doc. – Johannes_B Jan 14 '15 at 18:29
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    That was also my impression as well; I never doubted that there was a good reason for this format, however odd it seems to me. Yet I believe I have never in my life seen a novel (even from the finest of publishers) that was typeset using that canon. Any good ideas why? – Gaussler Jan 14 '15 at 18:50
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    This is I think one for Graphic Design. Note that the other question is older than the GD.SE site so it's righteously here. In general, there are only two answers to this question: (1) typography tradition (i.e., the question belongs o the other site) or (2) you gotta ask the memoir authors because only they can know (which means that it's "blatantly off-topic"). But it's only my opinion... – yo' Jan 14 '15 at 19:22
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    regarding the relationship of margins to the content of the page, some comments by hermann zapf might interest you; this tugboat article is a translation of an article in dante's "die texnische komödie. the relevant pages are 28-29. – barbara beeton Jan 14 '15 at 19:44
3

It's the choice of the document class designer, of memoir in this case. Although your title mentions default margins, you show memoir which has a larger margin it seems to me:

enter image description here

%\documentclass[twoside,a5paper]{memoir}
\documentclass[twoside,a5paper]{article}
\usepackage{geometry}
\usepackage{lipsum,microtype}

\begin{document}
    \noindent\lipsum[1-22]
\end{document}

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