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8.2. Vertical dimensions

The specification states that top and bottom margins must be at least 1″. The reference point for a LaTeX page is 1″ right of the left edge of the paper and 1″ below the top edge, so the logical margin of zero we specify here gives a physical margin of 1″.

In LaTeX, one does not directly specify the bottom margin; one instead specifies the paperwidth and several vertical dimensions, and the bottom margin is whatever vertical space is left over. First let's consider the height of the header and footer parts of the page.

The specification says nothing about running headers or footers, except for page numbering.

For consistency, this style will default to bottom centered page numbers. The author can always override it with explicit commands at the beginning of the body. This means we can eliminate the header altogether, freeing up more space for page content.

The total available height of the page is 11″ minus two 1″ margins or 9″. At 72.27 points per inch, that's 650.43 points. Subtracting the 24 points for the footer gives us a body size of just over 626 points. However, to make sure that the margins are sufficiently wide, we will reduce that by a small value.


To insure that the ascenders on the first line of body type don't get too close to the top edge, we specify a 24-point \topskip value; this dimension does not reduce the height of the body.