[Tex/LaTex] the effect of \hsize and \vsize in plain TeX


I was reading the TeXbook. From the instruction I use \hsize=4in and \vsize=4in in the tex program, and generate the output dvi file.

There are several problems.

  1. Is the \hsize the horizontal size of the the text or of the page?
  2. Neither of the text dimension or the page dimension are square.
  3. The dvi output actually has the size of A4, viewed from the program xdvi in Mac OS.

What is going on?

Best Answer

Roughly speaking, \hsize is the size of pieces when paragraph is broken to the lines. This means, that it is the width of these lines. But exceptions exist (\leftskip, \rightskip for example).

\vsize is the size of pieces when the column of the text is broken to the pages (or to more columns at one page). This means that this is the size of \topskip plus text without the depth of the last line. The header and footer is not counted here.

No \hskip, \vskip have a connection to real page dimensions. The box with the text is put to the page with regrads to the left-top corner (where \voffset and \hoffest play a role), but page dimensions is totally irrelevant.

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