# [PLUG-TALK] How to get Latex to do my math for me

John Jason Jordan johnxj at gmx.com
Tue Jan 7 19:18:34 PST 2020

On Tue, 7 Jan 2020 18:16:15 -0800 (PST)
Rich Shepard <rshepard at appl-ecosys.com> dijo:

>On Tue, 7 Jan 2020, John Jason Jordan wrote:
>
>> I'm trying to create a table and have Latex calculate the width of
>> the columns, based on the fact that the table will be 568.8 points
>> wide and there will be two columns. The following blows up on me:
>>
>> \begin{tabular}{|p{568.8/2pt}|p{568.8/2pt}|}
>> \hline \hline

>I offer two suggestions. First, install LyX and use that rather than
>straight LaTeX. Much easier and quicker.

These tables will be in render frames in Scribus.

>Second. if you are using letter paper and have 1" margins on each side
>the text area is 6.5". Since we're used to thinking in terms of inches
>(or centimeters) rather than points set column widths using inches.
>You can futz with them (a.k.a. trial-and-error) and use the dvips page
>preview to see how it all looks.

I've been thinking in points for decades. I sometimes set my left and
right margins to 21.6pts, so for a US letter sheet of 612pts I have
568.8pts left for text and stuff. If I have 36pt left and right margins
then I have 540pts for text and stuff. I have these numbers memorized.
I use these numbers even in LO Writer and every other program where I
need to deal with pages and margins.

But even if I use inches, if I want a table that is 6.5 inches wide of
five equal columns, why should I do the math? And besides, it seems
that half the time I create a column that is less than the margins,
typically centered on the page. When I do that I create the table width
mentally in points. Or I might create a table with a wide first column
and want the rest of the columns to share the remaining distance
equally.

What I'm trying to do is automate making tables in Scribus as much as
possible. I haven't yet gotten into things like specifying line widths
and types, cell padding, mandatory column height, text styles, and lots
more, but I'm poking along at it. For the moment I just want to figure
out how to automate column widths.