[tex-k] dvips letterSize vs. letter

Anton Ertl anton at a0.complang.tuwien.ac.at
Tue Mar 25 08:51:16 CET 2003

The dvips man page reports letter, legal, ledger, a4, a3 as paper
types for the -t option.

The config.ps on RedHat 7.3 (which is the default judging by the info
node "Config file paper sizes") contains paper sizes

@ A4size 210mm 297mm
@ letterSize 8.5in 11in
@ letter 8.5in 11in
@ legal 8.5in 14in
@ ledger 17in 11in
@ tabloid 11in 17in
@ a4 210mm 297mm
@ a3 297mm 420mm
@ unknown 0in 0in

The problem here is that the "letter" paper type produces the
non-standard Postscript operator "letter", and the result does not
print on some printers if you don't have letter size paper (e.g., our
Minolta Magicolor 3100 has this problem).  "letterSize" does not
introduce this operator and therefore does not produce this problem.
The man page warns about this problem, but does not document that using
letterSize avoids it.

The same issues apply to "a4" and "A4size" for people who do not have
A4 paper.

Looking at a config.ps and "man dvips" on a Debian system (which has
dvips 5.92b), the situation is essentially the same (the config.ps has
more paper types, though).

IMO you should do either or both of the following things:

- mention letterSize and A4size in the man page, and what the
difference is from letter and a4.

- In the default config.ps file, delete the operators "letter" and
"a4" from the letter and a4 paper size descriptions.  Maybe introduce
new paper size descriptions (say, "forceLetter" and "forceA4") that
contain them, for people who know what they are doing.  Maybe do the
same for the paper sizes smaller than A4/letter (a6, a5, b6, b5 on the
Debian system).

Thanks in advance.

- anton

More information about the tex-k mailing list