[texhax] TeX Queries 4: Overfull boxes

Philip TAYLOR P.Taylor at rhul.ac.uk
Wed Aug 1 16:01:11 CEST 2012

William Adams wrote:

> If memory serves, there's a very good discussion of this in _TeX for the Impatient, which is available in source code form here:

> ``A \defterm{box}  is a rectangle of material to be typeset.  A single
> \refterm{character} is a box by itself,
> and an entire page is also a box.
> \TeX\ forms a page as a nest of boxes within boxes within boxes. The
> outermost box is the page itself, the innermost boxes are mostly
> single characters, and single lines are boxes that are
> somewhere in the middle.''

It's a description, but not a good one, IMHO.  There
are no rectangle, only a "virtual" rectangle that
notionally surrounds the material that it contains.
Of course, it need not actually surround it, since
there exist TeX primitives for forcing some or all
of the material to lie outside of the box. I was
going to try to answer Paul' questions myself, and
I still hope to just as soon as I can.

** Phil.

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