The question came up, when this post How should I typeset the physical dimensions of quantities? got closed for being off-topic. We discussed it in chat, and it seem to be a bit tricky. That's why I would like to discuss this here.

On https://tex.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic there is no word about typesetting or best-practices but both topics are possible tags.

In chat, I got linked to http://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com. OK, but where should we draw the line. I don't think that I would get an answer to this special case on this site. I think the question is the same as concerns about "space between value and unit" or "space between acronyms" or all the "upright or not" stuff. On TeX.SX, there are a lot of people who know a lot of stuff about typesetting AND technical issues, standards and so on.

I think, then that topic of typography should be included on the help page. For me, that's a major part of what TeX is about.

And for "best-practices". Best practices in technological or scientific fields are often international rules or standards like ISO, DIN ... If I search for a canonical answer to an issue about units, dimensions, and so on, I would always search on TeX.SX first.

So, what do you think? If you don't agree, we should start migrating all the "cosmetics"-stuff to Graphics.SX. Would be fine for me, too.

  • 15
    I don't think the fact that there's typography and best-practice tags can automatically be taken as an indicator that questions that are about typography and best practices in general are suitable for this site: They still need to be linked strongly to TeX (we also have a ms-word tag, but that doesn't mean general Word questions should be asked here).
    – Jake
    Sep 16, 2013 at 20:16
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    We should also consider where the user will get the best answer, or if they'll be able to get an answer elsewhere at all. I suspect that more people here will know more about typesetting best practices than those on graphicdesign.SE. It may be better to allow slightly offtopic questions such as this when there's no better place to ask. They certainly don't detract from the site, and they might even enrich the community.
    – user10744
    Sep 17, 2013 at 2:48
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    @SamWhited I don't agree quite. If people here know a lot about typography, they should go and visit GD.SE regularly to answer the typography questions there. Of course there's a smooth transition between "purely *TeX questions" and "purely typography questions", and cutting it into distinct part is close to impossible. Still, argument that "people here know the answer better" is not valid in SE context.
    – yo'
    Sep 17, 2013 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


There is a difference between cosmetics that TeX should perform and cosmetics that purely rely on the typesetters choice.

If the question is about how to turn on/off ligatures, implement auto kerning hyphenation, letterine, ornaments etc. or the specification is given and don't know how to realize in terms of TeX then it is obviously on-topic.

But if it is about font selection, how to write certain mathematical quantities (in terms of the style as in your linked question), units, section names, in short, the specs depend on something other than TeX then this is not the place. Not because we don't like it but we don't know what to do with them. Experts are elsewhere (and here too but they have their TeX hat on). Sometimes we voice our opinion but that's that, just an opinion and not an answer.

I have a borderline or even off-topic question A ligature for she/he that I tried to convert to a drawing question and I'm still not too happy about it. It seemed like a good idea back then when I was young.


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