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On typesetting
*To*: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
*Subject*: [mg76605] On typesetting
*From*: Selwyn Hollis <sh2.7183 at earthlink.net>
*Date*: Thu, 24 May 2007 06:19:18 -0400 (EDT)
*References*: <f2u57d$k2n$1@smc.vnet.net> <200705230940.FAA24349@smc.vnet.net>
One of the things I had hoped for in Mathematica 6 was improvement in
its typesetting. I admit that I'm probably more picky about this sort
of thing than most, but beautifully typeset mathematics is so common
nowadays that sloppy typesetting really sticks out like a sore thumb
to someone with an eye for such things. Now of course people have
different tastes and preferences for some aspects of spacing,
heights, script sizes, and so on, and Mathematica does allow user
control of much of that, but there is one particular aspect over
which the only control is a lot of tedious tweaking. Basically,
AutoSpacing does a very poor job with multiplication spacing.
Multiplication spaces are generally too wide, and on-screen they are
horribly inconsistent. Apparently, loose spacing is preferred at WRI
(which may be related to TeXForm's insistence upon putting \, spaces
everywhere), and that's fine. As best I can tell, a multiplication
space usually amounts to a \[ThinSpace], or 3/18 em. I find that much
space horribly loose in most cases. A \[VeryThinSpace], or 1/18 em,
is usually too thin, but often preferable. To my taste, 2/18 em would
probably be a good compromise.
I've discovered that a ZeroWidthTimes option has been introduced with
6.0, so apparently someone at WRI is thinking about these things. But
ZeroWidthTimes->True only causes the exact opposite problem. Why not
a TimesWidth option with "Tight", "Normal", and "Loose" as possible
values?
In addition, Mathematica 6 has introduced two rather egregious new
typesetting "issues:"
(1) Embedding equations in text ruins line-spacing. There is excess
space below any line that contains an equation, even if the equation
is as simple as y=x.
(2) In fractions set with ScriptLevel->0, the distance between the
bar and the numerator's baseline has ballooned to almost the x-height
of the font.
I have prepared a brief pdf document showing various comparisons that
I hope make all this clearer. See it here:
http://www.math.armstrong.edu/faculty/hollis/typesettingwoes.pdf
- Selwyn Hollis
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