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I am trying to figure out the margins of the document class article. I know this layout figure: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/Page_Layout

The article says that I can change the paper size to A4 by giving the option a4paper but it only comes to effect if I also use the geometry package, i.e.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[a4paper]{geometry}

or

\documentclass[a4paper]{article}
\usepackage{geometry}

However, \documentclass[a4paper]{article} alone gives me another format than letter and also calling the geometry package changes the margins again.

Furthermore, in the \layout figure, I am wondering if there is the exact the same space on the left and on the right, same with top/bottom.

Is the \layout command the only way to see the values for the page margins or is it possible to directly return the values of left, right, top, bottom?

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    You should distinguish between the paper format (i.e. its physical dimensions) and the margins. While paper formats are following some (internationally known) standards, there are no such standards on the margins. geometry surely uses some default values for margins; Of course, a4paper will only work with geometry, since this package defines that option (at least this is only one I know of) – user31729 Dec 27 '18 at 18:45
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    @ChristianHupfer Isn't a4paper defined in all standard classes? Ok, it will only change the papersize and not the margins, but it is defined. – user36296 Dec 27 '18 at 18:48
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    I get an A4 document when I add the a4paper document class option, and a US letter otherwise without adding geometry. So you must be doing something wrong... – Werner Dec 27 '18 at 18:53
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    Changing the 2nd part of my comment above: standard documentclasses do provide a4paper, but geometry seems to change the margins as well – user31729 Dec 27 '18 at 18:53
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    @00schneider: geometry uses defaults (via calculation etc.), see page 13 of the current geometry manual – user31729 Dec 27 '18 at 19:04

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