Squeezing space with LaTeX

I’ve been writ­ing a grant appli­ca­tion with a 10-​​page limit, and as usual it is dif­fi­cult to squeeze every­thing in. No, I can’t just change the font as it has to be 12 point with at least 2 cm mar­gins on an A4 page. For­tu­nately, LaTeX is packed full of pow­er­ful fea­tures that help in squeez­ing it all in. Here are some of the tips I’ve used over the years.

Make your text block as big as pos­si­ble. The sim­plest way to do that is using the geom­e­try package:

\usepackage[text={16cm,24cm}]{geometry}

Use a com­pact font such as Times Roman:

\usepackage{mathptmx}

Remove the spac­ing between para­graphs and have a small para­graph indentation

\setlength{\parskip}{0cm}
\setlength{\parindent}{1em}

Remove space around sec­tion headings.

\usepackage[compact]{titlesec}
\titlespacing{\section}{0pt}{2ex}{1ex}
\titlespacing{\subsection}{0pt}{1ex}{0ex}
\titlespacing{\subsubsection}{0pt}{0.5ex}{0ex}

Beware of enu­mer­ated and item­ized lists. Instead, replace them with com­pact lists.

\usepackage{paralist}
\begin{compactitem}
\item ...
\end{compactitem}
\begin{compactenum}
\item ...
\end{compactenum}

If you are allowed, switch­ing to dou­ble col­umn can save heaps of space.

\usepackage{multicols}
\begin{multicols}{2}
...
\end{multicols}

If the rules say 12pt, you can usu­ally get away with 11.5pt with­out any­one noticing:

\begin{document}\fontsize{11.5}{14}\rm

When you get des­per­ate, you can squeeze the inter-​​line spac­ing using

\linespread{0.9}

There is also a savetrees pack­age which does a lot of squeez­ing, but the results don’t always look nice, so it is bet­ter to try one or more of the above tricks instead.

A few more tricks are explained here and here.


Related Posts:


  • http://www.texdev.net/ Joseph Wright

    Don’t for­get to use microtype, if pos­si­ble, to get a bit of micro-​​typographic “legroom”.

    • http://robjhyndman.com Rob J Hyndman

      The microtype pack­age is great, even if you’re not try­ing to get more room. The line breaks look bet­ter and there is less hyphen­ation required. I use it as part of my stan­dard pre­am­ble these days.

  • Michał Masłowski

    When the text is just one line longer than allowed it might be appro­pri­ate to use looseness=-1 in a para­graph (nor­mally it is used to avoid hav­ing sin­gle line of a para­graph on a page).

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  • Ein Staunen­der

    One could also use a Black­let­ter font – there’s a good rea­son for this name …

  • Nan Qu

    Can I ask you some gen­eral sug­ges­tions on using Latex in writ­ing the­sis, or are there some good instruc­tions avail­able? For exam­ple, I always have trou­bles in posi­tion­ing figures/​tables into an ideal place, say, being close to the text rather than in a sep­a­rate page.

    Is there a gen­eral style in Latex that allows me more freedom?

    Sorry for both­er­ing you.

    • http://robjhyndman.com Rob J Hyndman

      I’ll tackle fig­ure place­ment in a post later this week.

      Update: See this entry on con­trol­ling LaTeX floats.

  • A R

    One more trick con­cerns foot­notes: if you have a lot of short foot­notes, and you can get away with it, try pack­age “foot­misc” with option “para” to set all the foot­notes as a sin­gle para­graph. OTOH, if you have long foot­notes, this will actu­ally make things worse as LaTeX can­not break foot­notes then.

  • Keren Ouak­nine

    Thanks Rob, tips were helpful!!

  • Mayssa

    Thank you!

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  • Laki

    Thank you very much. You saved my day…!