Mistakes of LaTeX: the tabular environment

One constant annoyance that I’ve encountered when people learn LaTeX is the default behavior of the tabular environment. Rather than presenting itself as a separate paragraph block, it is instead automatically in TeX’s horizontal mode. This means that if, for example, a user writes:

some text


more text

the tabular will be presented left-ish aligned (actually, indented by \parindent). This is never what the user intended. Worse still is the result if the blank line before or after the tabular is omitted. My solution to this was to encourage users to create an aroundtbl environment which usually was just a \begin{center}\end{center} but the correct solution would have been to not require this in the first case. Instances where a user wants a tabular to be in horizontal mode are rare and if they really were important, wrapping the tabular in a minipage would be a better solution (or having a variant of the tabular environment).

It’s long past time for this to be able to be fixed in LaTeX proper, but it makes sense to do it with the tabular replacement in finl.

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