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How can I change the default font size throughout the LaTeX document? Is this even possible?

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    There are two general answers below if you need a more detailed answer improve your question please, and tell us at least which class you are using … – Tobi Feb 7 '12 at 18:05
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at least some document classes provide an optional argument to do this. for example,

\documentclass[12pt]{book}

will provide a changed set of font sizes (\footnotesize will be smaller, for example) in a coherent style.

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    The memoir document class provides an extended range of font sizes (9 to 13 points). – Michael Palmer Feb 7 '12 at 21:18
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The standard classes have options 10pt, 11pt and 12pt to load configurations for a main font in the given size and matching sizes for headlines etc.

If your using KOMA-Script use the option fontsize=<size> to set a size that may differ from the above three.

To change the size of the main font only try \fontsize{<size>}{<skip>}\selectfont but this is not a real user command so one should know what he does when using it ;-)

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    It's worth noting that the extsizes classes (extarticle, extreport, etc.) support font sizes from 8pt to 20pt. – Ian Thompson Apr 7 '14 at 9:39
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You can change the main font size and the other font sizing commands (as long as the font is scalable) through the fontsize package.

The fontsize package option

The most basic way is to use the fontsize option which automatically sets the line spacing:

\usepackage[fontsize=10.8pt]{fontsize}

The \changefontsize command

If you need precise line spacing you can use the \changefontsize command:

\usepackage{fontsize}
  \changefontsize[12.8pt]{11pt}

Here is a minimal working example. The normal size and the normal line spacing are set to 11pt and 12.75pt respectively:

\documentclass{book}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{blindtext}
\usepackage{cochineal}
\usepackage{fontsize}
  \changefontsize[12.75]{11}
\begin{document}
 \blinddocument  
\end{document}

which gives:

![enter image description here

Printing samples

The values ​​of the font sizing commands can be obtained with the \printsamples command:

\printsamples

prints the values of the font size and line spacing for all the sizes defined by the package.

\printsamples{12.8pt}{11.2pt}[normalsize,tiny,tinyr,tinyrr,tinyrrr]

prints the values of the font size and line spacing for all the sizes declared in the optional argument.

Here is a minimal working example with the Cochineal font:

\documentclass{book}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{cochineal}
\usepackage{fontsize}
\begin{document}
  \printsamples{12.8pt}{11.2pt}[normalsize,tiny,tinyr,tinyrr,tinyrrr]
\end{document}

which gives:

enter image description here

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