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Tabloid paper size - how I got it working

From: Marcus Macauley
Subject: Tabloid paper size - how I got it working
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2005 15:27:55 -0500

I was getting ready to write this list asking if anyone had had luck
generating tabloid (11x17) PS/PDFs from Lilypond, but in the process, I
figured out how to do it.

Since I'm not sure exactly what it was I did that made it work, and since
I have three versions of Ghostscript (7.07, 8.15, and 8.50) installed, not
sure which one Lilypond is using, I thought I'd post my experiences here
so they might be useful to someone who's trying to format tabloid scores
or to the developers.

I'm running Fedora Core 3, and have gotten two versions of Lilypond
successfully installed and working from RPMs: first, 2.4.2; currently,

With both versions of Lilypond, I tried specifying the paper size
according to the documentation, which worked fine for letter and legal
sized paper, at both portrait (default) and landscape orientations:

#(set-default-paper-size "letter" 'landscape)

But while those sizes/orientations worked fine, specifying tabloid (with
or without the 'landscape option) generated an error something like this:

Layout output to `'...
Converting to `strtrio-vln.pdf'...Error invoking `ps2pdf 
-sPAPERSIZE="tabloid" > /dev/null 2>&1 '. Return value

Although it looks like the PS file was generated, and the problem occured
in converting it to PDF, actually the PS file would appear to be somewhat
messed up - KGhostView would open it, but show a letter-size page with
(overflowing) tabloid music, while GGV wouldn't open it at all, saying
"File is not a valid PostScript document."

The PDF, meanwhile, was not generated at all.

But then I typed "info ghostscript" (which says its based on version
7.07), and I came across the following information on paper sizes:

=== begin quote ===
To select a specific paper size, use the command line switch


for instance


At this time, the known paper sizes,  defined  in  the  initialization
file "", are:

PAPERSIZE    X inches   Y inches   X cm      Y cm
a0           33.0556    46.7778    83.9611   118.816
a1           23.3889    33.0556    59.4078   83.9611
a2           16.5278    23.3889    41.9806   59.4078
a3           11.6944    16.5278    29.7039   41.9806
a4           8.26389    11.6944    20.9903   29.7039
a5           5.84722    8.26389    14.8519   20.9903
a6           4.125      5.84722    10.4775   14.8519
a7           2.91667    4.125      7.40833   10.4775
a8           2.05556    2.91667    5.22111   7.40833
a9           1.45833    2.05556    3.70417   5.22111
a10          1.02778    1.45833    2.61056   3.70417
b0           39.3889    55.6667    100.048   141.393
b1           27.8333    39.3889    70.6967   100.048
b2           19.6944    27.8333    50.0239   70.6967
b3           13.9167    19.6944    35.3483   50.0239
b4           9.84722    13.9167    25.0119   35.3483
b5           6.95833    9.84722    17.6742   25.0119
archA        9          12         22.86     30.48
archB        12         18         30.48     45.72
archC        18         24         45.72     60.96
archD        24         36         60.96     91.44
archE        36         48         91.44     121.92
flsa         8.5        13         21.59     33.02
flse         8.5        13         21.59     33.02
halfletter   5.5        8.5        13.97     21.59
note         7.5        10         19.05     25.4
letter       8.5        11         21.59     27.94
legal        8.5        14         21.59     35.56
11x17        11         17         27.94     43.18
ledger       17         11         43.18     27.94

Note that the B paper sizes are ISO sizes: for information about using
JIS B sizes, see Use.htm.
=== end quote ===

Note that there is no "tabloid", only "11x17" (i.e. "tabloid" 'portrait)
and ledger (i.e. "tabloid" 'landscape). But I can't specify 11x17 or
ledger in Lilypond, because it doesn't recognize this.

So I tried searching for that "" mentioned in the above info
document, to see if maybe I could customize it. Doing:

find / -name

I found three copies, one corresponding to each version of ghostscript I
have installed (only the first, 7.07, from an RPM):


Editing each file in turn, I found a line (around line 41) like:

 /11x17 {792 1224 //.setpagesize exec} bind def  % 11x17 portrait

And later on, under "STRICT...", one that was commented out (approx. line
109), like:
% /tabloid {792 1224 //.setpagesize exec} bind def  % 11x17 portrait

So I removed the % from the tabloid line to enable that option.

Further down (line 124?) there was a list of "/.pagetypenames", which
included /11x17 but not /tabloid. So I added /tabloid. Actually, I added
it to the same line as /11x17 (rather than after "STRICT", which would
have been more consistent), but since it worked that way I didn't bother
to go back and change it.

So I made similar changes to the files for the other
ghostscript versions.

Then I edited the Lilypond file, specifying tabloid/landscape (which is
what I really wanted), ran Lilypond on it again, and it generated no
errors about PS or PDF, as it had before (just some musical warnings - bar
checks, etc.).

Then, trying to open each file (PS and PDF) with KGhostView, KPDF, GGV,
and GPDF, here's what worked/didn't work:

- KGhostView opened the PS file, but displayed it incorrectly (music at
the bottom of the page, overflowing, etc). Choosing View - Paper Size -
11x17 fixed it; now it displayed tabloid landscape, with the music
formatted correctly. However, I couldn't get it to display the PDF without
getting the orientation wrong in one way or another.

- KPDF displayed the PDF correctly upon opening it - no modifications

- GGV refused to open the PS, complaining "File is not a valid PostScript
document". However, it displayed the PDF just fine, except that the whole
page was rotated. In other words, the music fit, spanning the length (17
inches) of the page, but the page was displayed in portrait orientation
with the staff lines vertical. Choosing View - Orientation - Landscape
rotated it correctly, but the music was cut off past 11 inches wide.

- GPDF, like KPDF, displayed the PDF correctly the first time!

Hopefully that helps, and if there's an easier/more reliable way to make
this work, I'd be happy to hear about it!

BTW, I'm still not sure which version of Ghostscript Lilypond is using;
all I know is that typing "gs --version" at a command prompt displays
"8.15", while typing "ghostscript --version" displays "7.07". I suppose I
could make symbolic links in the /usr/bin or /usr/local/bin directories to
choose which version I wanted to use, but now that it's at least working I
feel more like leaving it alone!

Marcus Macauley

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