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I'm trying to understand the difference between the KOMA-Script article class scrartcl and the KOMA-Script book class scrbook?

As I understanding actually I can do every thing I can do with the article class also with the book class. But maybe I'm wrong.

So I was wondering: What can I do using scrartcl that I can't do with scrbook? Are there, i.e., options at KOMA-Script's article class that the book class does not have?

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    The abstract is the first thing that comes to my mind. – Johannes_B Mar 11 '19 at 18:40
  • @Johannes_B, thank you! but there are more things? Or it's just this? – heblyx Mar 11 '19 at 18:42
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    A KOMA-script article doesn't have chapters... And I guess there are more things. Also some options have different default settings, like a scrbook is two sided by default (but this can be changed). I'm unsure why you asked your question. If it was just out of curiosity, ok. But other ways, you should just ask yourself: Am I writing a book or an article or whatever. By this, most options are set "the right way". Btw. you can easily change the documentclass if you come to a point where you change your mind – Ben Mar 11 '19 at 18:52
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    A title with article is also relatively small on not on its own page (by default). One-side vs. twoside. Blank pages with books. There are also KOMA-reports. – Johannes_B Mar 11 '19 at 19:02
  • @Johannes_B scrbook and scrreprt both do also provide titlepage=false. So this is one more default only. – Schweinebacke Mar 11 '19 at 19:40
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The KOMA-Script article class scrartcl is like the standard class article designed for (more or less short) articles. The KOMA-Script book class scrbook is like the standard class book designed for scientific books from about some dozen up to several thousand pages. The KOMA-Script report class scrreprt is like the standard report class somewhere between the article and the book class but more near to the book class. They differ from the book classes mostly in the defaults. And you can always use the book class with change of some defaults instead of the report class. So some persons say it is not really needed.

Single-/Double-sided

Submission of articles often should be single-sided printed. So this is the default of scrartcl and article. But you can change it using option twoside.

Reports are a kind of paper often found in folders or discussed on round (or squared) tables. So they are also often printed as single-side documents. And so single-side layout/printing is the default of most report classes like scrreprt and report too.

Books are almost always double-sided. So this is the default of scrbook and book. But you can change it using option twoside=false (KOMA-Script only) or oneside.

Document Titles

Usually articles do not use a complete page for the document title, but put the title on the top of the first page often followed by a short abstract as an eye catcher and sometimes followed by a table of contents. Not using a title page but a so called in-page title for titles made by \maketitle is also the default of scrartcl (and article). But you can change this default by option titlepage.

Books usually have several title pages (don't mix this with the cover!) as part of the book block. Usually books have a half-title. This is the first page of the block. It often does show only the main title of the book. The verso page of the half-title is either a blank page or the frontispiece. The next page is the main title page with title, author and several more elements. The verso page of the main title is often a kind of imprint with legal notes, edition, printer etc. The KOMA-Script \maketitle of scrbook does provide all these pages (and also a dedication page) by default. However you also can switch back to a in-page title using option titlepage=false.

The abstract of a book is generally a chapter (with or) without a number.

Providing or not providing a special abstract environment indeed has consequences for the available options. For example the KOMA-Script option abstract wouldn't make sense in scrbook. So only scrartcl and scrreprt provide this option.

Parts, Chapter, Section …

Sometimes in books the titles pages, the preface, the table of contents and some other tables/lists are flagged by roman page numbers and not numbered chapters headings. Book classes therefore provide commands \frontmatter, \mainmatter (and \backmatter) to separate these parts. Even though the KOMA-Script author is not a fan of roman page numbers, scrbook also provides these commands.

Article do not have such a separation into front, main and back. So article classes usually do not provide commands for it. (And so are reports).

Usually articles do not have several parts. If they have parts a part heading is a heading like others too. It does not begin a new page nor have a page on its own. This is like \part in scrartcl (and article) work.

On the other side the parts of books are more or less independent and therefore a major break inside a book. Often parts have a kind of main title page with blank verso. This is like \part in scrbook (and book) work. But in KOMA-Script you can change this.

Usually articles do not have real chapters with a really eye-catching heading starting always on a new page. Therefore scrartcl and article do not provide \chapter.

Books do have real chapters. And to make them eye catchers, chapters always start on a new page, mostly on a new right/odd page. The heading is not aligned to the top of the page but starts after some white gap. The start page mostly do not have a head resp. a running head. This is \chapter in scrbook (and book). But in KOMA-Script it is only a default, that can be changed.

Sections of several levels (\section, \subsection and \subsubsection) and in-line headings (\paragraph and \subparagraph) are also supported by all three KOMA-Script (or standard) classes.

The difference in providing or not providing chapters has indeed consequences for the available options. For example option open=right (KOMA-Script only) or openright does not make sense for article classes.

More

There are several more distinctions in the defaults of scrartcl and scrbook. But most of them can be easily changed by options or commands.

Conclusion

Don't ask, what article classes have that book classes do not. Ask: What kind of document do I write? Is it more an article or more a book. The main characteristic is: Should my document have real chapters that start on a new page? If so → use scrbook (or scrreprt). If not → use scrartcl.

Private note: I often use scrartcl for memos or notes. For software design papers I've formerly used scrreprt, now replaced by scrbook with option twoside=false.

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