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### 14.6 `\settowidth`

Synopsis:

```\settowidth{\len}{text}
```

Set the length \len to the width of the box that LaTeX gets on typesetting the text argument. The length name `\len` has to be a control sequence (see Control sequence, control word and control symbol), and as such must begin with a backslash, `\` under normal circumstances.

This prints the width of the lowercase ASCII alphabet.

```\newlength{\alphabetwidth}
\settowidth{\alphabetwidth}{abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz}
\the\alphabetwidth
```

If no such length \len has been declared with `\newlength`, if for example you mistype the above as `\settowidth{\aplhabetwidth}{abc...}`, then you get something like ‘Undefined control sequence. <argument> \aplhabetwidth’. If you leave the backslash out of \len, as in `\settoheight{alphabetwidth}{...}` then you get something like ‘Missing number, treated as zero. <to be read again> \setbox’.