2

Looking at the log outputs of

\documentclass[a4paper]{scrartcl}
\begin{document}
~
\end{document}

and

\documentclass[letterpaper]{scrartcl}
\begin{document}
~
\end{document}

(note: results are the same for the standard classes, i. e.

\documentclass[a4paper/letterpaper]{article}
\usepackage{typearea}

), I get

Package: typearea 2022/10/12 v3.38 KOMA-Script package (type area)
\ta@bcor=\skip48
\ta@div=\count185
Package typearea Info: You've used standard option `a4paper'.
(typearea)             This is correct!
(typearea)             Internally I'm using `paper=a4'.
(typearea)             If you'd like to set the option with \KOMAoptions,
(typearea)             you'd have to use `paper=a4' there
(typearea)             instead of `a4paper', too.
\ta@hblk=\skip49
\ta@vblk=\skip50
\ta@temp=\skip51
\footheight=\skip52
Package typearea Info: These are the values describing the layout:
(typearea)             DIV  = 10
(typearea)             BCOR = 0.0pt
(typearea)             \paperwidth      = 597.50793pt
(typearea)              \textwidth      = 418.25555pt
(typearea)              DIV departure   = -6%
(typearea)              \evensidemargin = 17.3562pt
(typearea)              \oddsidemargin  = 17.3562pt
(typearea)             \paperheight     = 845.04694pt
(typearea)              \textheight     = 595.80026pt
(typearea)              \topmargin      = -25.16531pt
(typearea)              \headheight     = 17.0pt
(typearea)              \headsep        = 20.40001pt
(typearea)              \topskip        = 11.0pt
(typearea)              \footskip       = 47.6pt
(typearea)              \baselineskip   = 13.6pt

and

Package: typearea 2022/10/12 v3.38 KOMA-Script package (type area)
\ta@bcor=\skip48
\ta@div=\count185
Package typearea Info: You've used standard option `letterpaper'.
(typearea)             This is correct!
(typearea)             Internally I'm using `paper=letter'.
(typearea)             If you'd like to set the option with \KOMAoptions,
(typearea)             you'd have to use `paper=letter' there
(typearea)             instead of `letterpaper', too.
\ta@hblk=\skip49
\ta@vblk=\skip50
\ta@temp=\skip51
\footheight=\skip52
Package typearea Info: With paper sizes other than (almost) `A4' predefined
(typearea)             DIV values do not exist. Using DIV calculation for good
(typearea)             line width (unless using `version=3.24` or prior).
DIV calculation for typearea with good linewidth.
Package typearea Info: These are the values describing the layout:
(typearea)             DIV  = 7
(typearea)             BCOR = 0.0pt
(typearea)             \paperwidth      = 614.295pt
(typearea)              \textwidth      = 351.02573pt
(typearea)              DIV departure   = 3%
(typearea)              \evensidemargin = 59.36464pt
(typearea)              \oddsidemargin  = 59.36464pt
(typearea)             \paperheight     = 794.96999pt
(typearea)              \textheight     = 459.8002pt
(typearea)              \topmargin      = 3.89714pt
(typearea)              \headheight     = 17.0pt
(typearea)              \headsep        = 20.40001pt
(typearea)              \topskip        = 11.0pt
(typearea)              \footskip       = 47.6pt
(typearea)              \baselineskip   = 13.6pt

In other words, the default text width and height is much smaller for letter paper than for A4 (DIV=7 vs. DIV=10, resulting in \textwidth 351pt for letter paper and 418pt for A4). That’s a huge difference in line width – the A4 version has lines which are more than 19% longer than the letter one!

I’m wondering why the defaults are so different for different paper sizes. As far as I understand, there is a certain “optimal” line length, so regardless of the paper size, I would expect that typearea would always try to keep \textwidth the same. And in fact, the margins in the letter paper look much too wide to me.

Now, the fact that the values are determined using a different procedure probably has something to do with it: As described in the KOMA-Script documentation (table 2.2), there are hard-coded default DIV values for A4 paper (DIV=10 for the default font size), whereas for letter paper, we can see that the DIV value is calculated automatically according to some algorithm (“Package typearea Info: With paper sizes other than (almost) `A4' predefined DIV values do not exist. Using DIV calculation for good line width (unless using version=3.24 or prior).”. In fact, using DIV=calc with a4paper results in a DIV value of 8, not 10! However, this doesn’t answer the question of why the results are so different. Presumably, if both the predefined values and the automatic calculation give good typographic results, the resulting line widths should match (approximately)!

2
  • I'm not a user of scrartcl or other KOMA classes, but this doesn't make sense. Since letter paper is a bit shorter and a bit wider than A4 paper, the width of the body type should also be a bit wider according to the actual paper proportions while observing accepted practices for readability. If this is specific to KOMA classes, it should be so tagged. Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 20:06
  • @barbarabeeton The results are the same with the standard classes (e. g. article), so it doesn’t just affect the KOMA classes.
    – Socob
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 1:05

1 Answer 1

1

I don't think that the typearea package has ever considered letter paper. And this is indeed the content of the information given (predefined DIV values do not exist). Why 7 is chosen is beyond my imagination.

But you can specify the option DIV=10

\documentclass[
  paper=letter,
  DIV=10,
]{scrartcl}

\begin{document}

x

\end{document}

and get

Package typearea Info: These are the values describing the layout:
(typearea)             DIV  = 10
(typearea)             BCOR = 0.0pt
(typearea)             \paperwidth      = 614.295pt
(typearea)              \textwidth      = 430.00653pt
(typearea)              DIV departure   = -9%
(typearea)              \evensidemargin = 19.87424pt
(typearea)              \oddsidemargin  = 19.87424pt
(typearea)             \paperheight     = 794.96999pt
(typearea)              \textheight     = 568.60025pt
(typearea)              \topmargin      = -30.173pt
(typearea)              \headheight     = 17.0pt
(typearea)              \headsep        = 20.40001pt
(typearea)              \topskip        = 11.0pt
(typearea)              \footskip       = 47.6pt
(typearea)              \baselineskip   = 13.6pt
(typearea)              on input line 1767.
1
  • Yeah, I guess I figured out where the difference comes from on a technical level in the question. I’m moreso wondering why things are implemented this way. Of course I can override the settings, but I was under the impression that the point of KOMA-Script (and typearea) was to get a sensible typographical setup by default. I guess I might just have to ask Markus Kohm?
    – Socob
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 1:11

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