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}

 \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:

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

• 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).

• Pingback: Jürgen Fenn (juergenfenn) 's status on Wednesday, 14-Oct-09 12:04:28 UTC - Identi.ca()

• 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.

• 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