Bottom margin vs. descenders question

Axel E. Retif axel.retif at
Thu Jun 25 13:04:45 CEST 2020

On 6/24/20 11:22 PM, Doug McKenna wrote:

> In "official typesetting rules" (TeX or otherwise) are descenders
> supposed to be completely above the bottom margin bounds of a page?
> Or is just the baseline of the bottom line of a full page supposed to
> conform to the margin bounds?

Typographically speaking, what matters is what the eye sees, not what 
the rulers tell us.

It all starts with the individual font design (by that I mean the 
different fonts even in the same typeface). If you look closely, you'll 
see that round letters like «o» and «e» are really a little bit bigger 
than letters like the «x». That's what we call in Spanish “la base de la 
x” and in English “the x-height”. Otherwise, those round letters will 
look smaller to the eye. See this illustrative page:

As I said, this applies to different fonts in the same typeface. See the 
Wikipedia page for the Minion typeface:

You'll see that the italic font is really a little bit bigger than the 
roman font, and even more so the swash (calligraphic) font, specially 
the round letters.

Now to your question of the page: suppose one page has just one 
descender (a «p», for example) align to the bottom of the page and the 
confronted page has no descenders at all ---the eye will see the page 
with the «p» shorter than the page with no descenders.

I have found (La)TeX maxdepth that Carlisle mentions truly amazing 
almost always; very rarely I have to make a minor adjustment. For 
example, if a display formula ends a page, (La)TeX will lower integrals 
a little bit, but not the sums, which have a heavy baseline.



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