LaTeX tips to meet publication page limits

November 19, 2005

Any print publication will naturally have a page limit for articles it publishes. I use LaTeX for typesetting my papers, and I’ve put together here a collection of tricks I use to squeeze space out. I’ve sorted them roughly in decreasing order of effectiveness.

Do this first

  • Decrease the document’s font size to the lowest allowed size. For example, \documentclass[10pt]{article} reduces your document’s font to 10 points if you’re using the article document class.
  • If you’re using the article document class, add \usepackage{fullpage} to your preamble. As its name suggests, this package shrinks the margins and uses more of each page.
  • Convert display math (equation, eqnarray, etc.) to inline math ($ $), wherever possible.

Decrease the font size used for references

It is common for print journals to use a smaller font for references than normal text. But the default style files for conference papers (like ACM‘s sig-alternate.cls) often don’t do this. You can do this yourself by enclosing the bibliography portion of your document with a LaTeX font size environment like this:


\small{
    \bibliography{mybibliographyfile.bib}
}

To make the references even smaller, use \scriptsize instead of \small, but I don’t recommend using smaller font sizes.

Reduce spacing by changing environment variables

LaTeX uses certain default values set by the style-sheet to determine, for example, the spacing between items in a list, before and after equations, before and after figures, etc. This document on Squeezing Space in LaTeX gives a list of such variables you can manipulate. They usually involve adding a negative amount of space to an existing environment variable. For example:

\addtolength{\itemsep}{-0.05in}

The above code reduces the separation between items in a list by 0.05 inches. The right amount to add can only be found by trial and error. I’ve found that it is most effective to change the following variables: \itemsep (about 0.1 in), \topsep(about 0.07 in), \textfloatsep(about 0.05 in), \intextsep(about 0.05 in), \partopsep(about 0.03 in), \parskip(about 0.02in)

Note that sometimes, adding a more negative amount does not seem to reduce spacing, and when pushed beyond a point, the typesetting gets totally messed up. Use this technique in moderation.

Using \vspace

This is a more direct method to cut down spacing exactly where you need it. It is best illustrated with an example:


This is the end of a paragraph.
\vspace{-0.2in}
\begin{figure}[h]

This cuts down the space between the end of a paragraph and the figure that follows it.

Use the space meant for author information

If you are submitting a paper for a double blind-reviewed conference, you will not be revealing the author names and affiliations. But the style file often reserves a certain amount of space for it, even if you don’t specify any author information. The only way around is to edit the style file itself. This is how you can do it for ACM’s sig-alternate.cls (Note: you make such modifications at your own risk, I have only tested this for v1.6 of the class file).

  • Find the line \advance\topmargin by -37 pt. Change the 37 to 47.
  • Find the line %This should be the subtitle. Comment the next six lines.
  • Find the line ending with % Increased space for title box -- KBT, and comment it.
  • Comment the line \newtoks\copyrightnotice.
  • Skip the next three lines. Comment the next six lines (\begin{center} to \end{center}).
  • Find the line starting with \def\@toappear{}. Comment this line, and the next six lines (up to and including the line that begins with \def\conferenceinfo.)
  • Find the line starting with \newtoks\copyrtyr. Comment this line, and the next seven lines (up to and including the line that begins with \def\permission.)

Fix paragraphs that end at the beginning of a column

In any document, it is common to have paragraphs where the last character is at the beginning of a column. Often, it is possible to shorten that paragraph just enough to make the paragraph end in the previous line instead, thus saving one entire line. Browse you entire document looking for such paragraphs, and fix as many as you can.

Convert oversized tables into images

Sometimes, we have tables that span more than one column, but does not really need two columns. For example, the following table may not fit into a single column.

\begin{table}
\centering
\begin{tabular}{l l l l l l l}
    BlahBlah & BlahBlah & BlahBlah & BlahBlah & BlahBlah & BlahBlah & BlahBlah\\
\end{tabular}
\caption{BlahBlah table}\end{table}

But, we can use the same trick we use for resizing images to make this table fit into, say 90% of the column width, like this:

\begin{table}
\centering
\resizebox{0.9\columnwidth}{!}{
    \begin{tabular}{l l l l l l l}
        BlahBlah & BlahBlah & BlahBlah & BlahBlah & BlahBlah & BlahBlah & BlahBlah\\
    \end{tabular}
}
\caption{BlahBlah table}
\end{table}

Shrink images

This obvious trick is, IMO, the main cause of illegible conference papers, but sometimes, there is no other choice. Shrink your images using your favorite LaTeX graphics package till the text size on the figure is about the same size as the main text.

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12 Responses to “LaTeX tips to meet publication page limits”

  1. marq Says:

    thanks for the tips man, you saved about 5 pages for my paper in singlecolumn article.

  2. Ajay Says:

    Hey, thanks for the hacks.

  3. Demetrios Says:

    Great piece of help!!! I appreciate it…

  4. ondrej Says:

    Thank you for the article, very useful tips!

  5. Sujit Says:

    Cool!!
    But that reducing font size for reference didn’t work for me. (It is not reducing font size of references 😦 )
    Any ways good tips…
    Thanks 🙂

  6. Vinay Says:

    Nice article! I didn’t know you had a blog 🙂

  7. xeels Says:

    Thanks so much. You saved my thesis.

  8. Krisztian Says:

    Niiiice!!!

    Thanks!


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