...change the default fontsize?

The fontsize is changed through the documentclass command. The syntax for the documentclass command is: \documentclass[options]{class}. In the post on creating a simple LaTeX document no options were listed, so the default fontsize is 10 points.

You can choose the base font to be either 10pt, 11pt, or 12 pt. For example:

\documentclass[12pt]{article}

LaTeX then gives you even more control over the fontsize through the appropriate command. From smallest to largest they are:

  1. \tiny
  2. \scriptsize
  3. \footnotesize
  4. \small
  5. \normalsize
  6. \large
  7. \Large
  8. \LARGE
  9. \huge
  10. \Huge
Simply type {\small Hello world!} to get a small version of Hello world. The {} tells LaTeX what text should be made small. You can compare the various sizes compiling this tex file:  Fontsize (tex)

My output is shown here. Click on the image below to get a larger version.

The first thing to notice is that I've added %base size to lines 3 and 8 but they haven't appeared in the output. That's because these are comments. Comments in LaTeX begin with a % sign and continue until the end of that line. The Gummi IDE has changed the color to blue to make it obvious that it's a comment.

The second thing to notice is that, if you look at the output on the righthand side, all the "Hello world!" text come one after the other, even though they are on different lines of the tex file. That's our next issue to address.

Although you can see the relative differences in using the various commands to change the fontsize, the actual size of the font depends on the base size you chose in the options for \documentclass. Here's a table on the absolute point sizes for those of you who want a lot more detail.

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If you want even bigger font sizes then you'll need to use a package. Once again, $latex \LaTeX$ gives you several options. I'll look at the fix-cm package. To use it you'll need to place a \usepackage{fix-cm} command in the preamble. After that, you'll need to include a line in the body of the document that looks something like this:

\fontsize{.75cm}{1.95cm}\selectfont

The first number, .75cm, sets the font at .75 centimeters and the second number sets the distance between the bottom of consecutive line to be 1.95 centimeters. I've put together a template illustrating the fix-cm package, BIGfonts (tex), along with the output BIGfonts (PDF), and the resulting screenshot:

BIGfonts

There are 2 issues to be aware of. The first is when you use a big font combined with small text (such as through \tiny ); the fonts were designed to be typeset as \tiny but now \tiny is still big. As a result, the text might not look as good with a large font. The second issue is the spacing between the lines. There's a rough guideline that your baseline distance should be 1.2 times the font size for things to look pleasing to the eye. So if your font size is 30 pt then the distance between the baselines is about 36 pt. These guidelines aren't rules. Ultimately you'll have to decide what works with best and it probably won't look as professionally typeset.

In summary, if you want a simple document with a larger font size, the fix-cm package is a good possibility. If your document is complicated with varying font sizes you should stick with the default settings; $latex \LaTeX$ wasn't designed to typeset the document for large font sizes.

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