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Altering the font size using \fontsize{a}{b} how can I use the default baselineskip for font-size a? If this is complicated, where can I find a detailed lookup-table?

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As already mentioned in LaTeX -- specify font point size? a quote from latex gives a rule of thumb that the baselineskip should be 1.2 times the font size. But this depends also on the font type and can differ

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TeX does indeed store the size and skip in arcane variables. I prefer more easily understood syntax, so I do it this way:

In Preamble:

\newlength\stdbls % standard baselineskip
\AtBeginDocument{%
  \setlength\stdbls{\baselineskip}%
  \gdef\stdblsn{\strip@pt\stdbls}%
} 

Even if the current \baselineskip is changed later in the document, \stdbls remains a fixed length, being the original \baselineskip of normal text.

If you need to use the skip as a number instead of a length, then \stdblsn does the job.

Nothing magical about the names I chose for those macros. Choose other names, if easier to remember.

In the original question, you would use:

\fontsize{a}{\stdbls}

Be aware that if the font size (a) is too large in relation to the skip, then the actual skip will be automatically enlarged, so that characters on adjacent lines do not bump into each other.

Regarding the rule of thumb about the ratio of baselineskip to font size: I would consider 1.2 to be a minimum. More comfortable reading is closer to 1.3. This is a matter of judgment.

  • I agree that 1.3 is usually better than 1.2. But your macro seems not to adjust the leading of footnotes proportionally to that in the text, so I’d use it only for plain text without notes. – Thérèse Dec 19 '17 at 16:16
  • @Thérèse Indeed. It is possible to dig into the code, for footnotes. Not as simple. But as you noted, better for plain text. I assumed that was the original intent. – user139954 Dec 19 '17 at 16:42

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