My document is hundreds of pages long with many figures and illustrations. The document is subject to periodic revision. To maintain an A4 version and a letter version would be too much work.

However, my audience includes a mix of A4 and letter users, both of whom wish to print the document on actual paper. How should I compromise between them?

One would think that this would be an old problem, long ago solved; yet a web search seems to discover nothing resembling an a4-letter-compromise package. Advice?


The document's source is written in LaTeX (rather than plain TeX).

For reference, here is my class declaration:


The {foo-report} is my minor local modification of standard {report}, identical except in the table of contents. For purpose of this question, you can probably pretend that it says {report} (unless the bare fact that the class is modified at all is somehow relevant, which I doubt).


My thanks to answerers and commenters. Based largely on the various advice given, my modified class declaration is as follows.

% Compromise between a4 (297.0mm by 210.0mm)
% and letter (11.0in by 8.5in, which is exactly 279.4mm by 215.9mm).

This seems to solve the problem. You probably don't have a local class {foo-report}; so, if adopting this solution yourself, you can instead type {report}.

Why 8.8 mm, incidentally? Because, being exactly half the difference between A4 and letter heights, that is the offset needed to recenter the text vertically.

  • 2
    I don't get the question really. The beauty of TeX is that one can just change the class declaration for a different page size. However, there is no way that one can get away with zero hand tweaking if you want a nice looking document. Nobody gets away with that unless you have an extremely simplistic document that you don't really care that much about. I think the answer is to just bite the bullet and maintain your two versions.
    – A Feldman
    Jul 31, 2016 at 1:59
  • 5
    If we can pretend it says {report}, why didn't you just write {report} in the first place? But it is irrelevant really because you've posted nothing like compilable code. In any case, there really isn't a good answer to this: you use conditional code in your document or you use wrappers with different configurations or you make do with output which gets cut off on one side of the Atlantic or the other or you settle for something which will work on both sides and look equally crappy to ensure nobody feels picked on. There's no good solution to North American idiosyncrasies ;).
    – cfr
    Jul 31, 2016 at 3:05
  • 6
    Really if you distribute this in pdf format it can always be printed, on whatever size paper, using the pdf reader's "fit to page" or "shrink to page" setting.
    – A Feldman
    Jul 31, 2016 at 3:29
  • 1
    i think what's really matter is \textwidth and \textheight
    – touhami
    Jul 31, 2016 at 6:43
  • 3
    Provide a version in A4. And if you must cater to the small part of the world that's non-metric, provide another version in letter. Aug 3, 2016 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


A couple of scientific journals by Wiley (those at least I wrote or maintained the LaTeX classes for) use a hybrid format of 210 mm by 279.4 mm: as wide as A4, as high as letter. Thus it can be printed or copied in both worlds without loss.

You can do this by putting

\setlength\paperheight {279.4mm}%
\setlength\paperwidth  {210mm}%

into your class code. If you are using the geometry package you could use



  • 3
    I like this answer. Use a size that can kind of, almost, approximate both sizes.
    – A Feldman
    Jul 31, 2016 at 3:27
  • 2
    This sounds like something that should be part of the core LaTeX. :)
    – wilx
    Jul 31, 2016 at 11:12
  • 1
    The jacow class (available in ctan) for conferences about particle accelerators, uses the same strategy. Have a common textblock for both paper sizes and adjust the margins.
    – TeXtnik
    Aug 2, 2016 at 8:11
  • @AFeldman All it costs is a one-line addition into geometry.sty, and of course, finding a good name for this paper size.
    – yo'
    Aug 22, 2016 at 16:39
  • @yo: By then I called the (default) option to switch to that paper size “wileypaper”. There might be better names. ;-) May 15, 2017 at 22:14

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