computer science, math, programming and other stuff
a blog by Christopher Swenson

# Some rules of typesetting

Often when reading articles or books, there are several problems that can be easily corrected that detract from the work's aesthetic appeal.

Don't use vertical rules. In typesetting, a rule is a line. The standard LaTeX tabular structure encourages us to use such monstrosities as \begin{tabular}{|c|c|}, putting vertical rules between every column. This is often an amateur mistake of typesetting: seldom do professionally typeset works contain vertical rules.

Use thicker rules, and vary the thickness in tables. The standard size for a rule should be 1pt. Lines that are too think just look weak. A nice thick, but not too thick, rule will give it a more professional, feeling. When doing tables, having even thicker rules for the top and bottom of the table, and medium thicknesses elsewhere add elegance to the table. The LaTeX package booktabs gives the appropriate commands \toprule, \midrule, and \bottomrule.

Use fixed-width fonts for code, email address, web address, and file names. In books, we should never see "Email address: a@b.com" or "Open the file readme.1st". It's infinitely better to use "Email address: a@b.com" and "Open the file readme.1st". And while you're at it, stop saying "e-mail". There is no hyphen. It's "email".