As I'm located in Europe the standard paper size is A4. So far I was normally using either \documentclass[a4paper]{article} or even simply \documentclass{article}. Recently I spotted sections (1.1) and (1.2) in An essential guide to LaTeX2ε usage and realized that I might be doing something wrong.

Neither of the above possibilities is a deadly sin, but I'm confused with respect to the possibility of using scrartcl.cls class from the KOMA -Script bundle instead. Is it superior to the ones I'm using?

The KOMA-Script option yields smaller margins (which I like), but on the other hand results in a slightly longer (in terms of number of pages) document. At least for one testcase I tested. This is, to me, somehow counter intuitive.

What is the relation between the 2.5 possibilities? Which one is preferable for a european user?

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    Related: Why should I not use the Koma-Script classes. Maybe this already answers your question? – Daniel Jan 31 '13 at 8:32
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    Customizing the margins is quite easy with article using geometry. If you're writing a paper for a submission, then it's probably better using the generic article so as to be sure of not using the wealth of commands and functions provided by KoMa-Script. – egreg Jan 31 '13 at 9:08

Besides featuring smaller margins, the KOMA-Script classes also use a default font size of 11pt (instead of 10pt as the standard classes) -- that's why the number of pages in your test document increased. Smaller margins as well as a larger font size are good typographic strategies to deal with A4 paper; see Why are default LaTeX margins so big? for details and other options.

You can emulate KOMA-Script's settings with the standard classes plus packages like geometry, but if you're looking for an "out-of-the-box" solution for A4 paper, the KOMA-Script classes are preferable.

EDIT: Here's an emulation of KOMA-Script's settings using article/geometry:







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