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Re: Re: typesetting fractions

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  • Subject: [mg45956] Re: [mg45923] Re: typesetting fractions
  • From: Selwyn Hollis <sh2.7183 at>
  • Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2004 04:17:17 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

On Jan 29, 2004, at 5:36 AM, Paul Abbott wrote:

> In article <buqmch$raa$1 at>, Garry Helzer <gah at>
> wrote:
>> Here's my question. TeX does an excellent job in this regard. TeX has 
>> been
>> around since the '60s and is open source. Why doesn't someone at WRI 
>> just
>> look at how TeX does it and incorporate the rules? Why reinvent the
>> wheel especially if the wheels you produce in house always seem to 
>> have
>> corners on the rim?
> Mathematica's typesetting (developed by Neil Soiffer, now at Design
> Science, Inc) *is* based on TeX's typesetting of math (appendix G of 
> the
> TeX book).

I find this assertion very bizarre, since so much of Mathematica's 
behavior quite different from TeX, especially with regard to spacing. 
Here's just one example: If I have a fraction with, say, x+1 in the 
denominator, I get exactly that --- no spacing at all between the 
glyphs -- so I have to go in and insert spaces manually.

> The fonts (developed by Andre Kuzniarek <mailto:andre at>)
> are different, and TeX's fonts specify certain metrics that are used in
> TeX's typesetting, so the typesetting of math using the Mathematica
> fonts (which, IMHO, look much better than Knuth's computer modern) will
> look a little different, but not too different.

But Mathematica's fonts only include symbols, Greek letters, and the 
like. No doubt Times is typically used for Roman letters and numerals; 
so are we to assume that the metrics used are based on Times Roman? And 
if so, whose version of Times Roman? (This is something I tried long 
ago to get a straight answer on  -- and failed.)

I believe that much of the difficulty with typesetting in Mathematica 
is that what you see on the screen is often not an accurate 
representation of how a document will print out. Spacings are different 
and lines break at different places at different magnifications. 
Moreover, I have noticed on numerous occasions that simply closing and 
reopening a notebook will cause on-screen spacings to appear 

Here's another source of fun in Mac OS X:  Spacing between words -- 
thus line breaks in text cells, and thus page breaks -- are not shown 
correctly on-screen until after you do a Page Setup (or print). This 
can lead to a great deal of aggravation until you get into the habit of 
always doing a Page Setup upon opening a notebook.

Anyway ... I hope that all this complaining is pointless in light of 
the vastly improved and completely rewritten 6.0 front end that's 
coming soon. (Right?) :^)

Selwyn Hollis
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