LaTeX – How to reach a page limit for a paper

This entry was posted by on Monday, 4 April, 2011 at

Scientific papers often have contradictions: be complete, yet not superfluous. Be concise, but also mention mr. such-and-so who did some related work. The page limit is often a restrictive factor when writing papers. Several tricks from an editorial point-of-view can be used, but there are also ways to convince LaTeX to put more ink on one page.

First and foremost

Make sure you meticulously edit and rephrase your text before you start cutting corners in the margins – this alone may already save a few lines. The English language is very rich in synonyms – often you can say the same with fewer words or characters!

Editorial tricks

  1. Find redundancy – if you say the same thing twice in your paper, you may be able to simply remove one of the statements (probably the second).
  2. Search for synonyms – the English language is very rich in words for the same thing, so it could very well be there’s a more concise way to say the same.
  3. Avoid itemized or enumerated lists – though it may seem less “pretty”, go for inline numbering such as i) roman 2) numeric c) alphabetic. Saves HUGE in paper real estate.
  4. Use a viewport on your figures, and crop them to minimal size. It may even be worthwhile to edit figures in a “landscape” dimension so they waste less vertical space.
  5. Make sure your figures are vector images (e.g. EPS). Personally I like to be able to read a figure when the paper is printed, but you may be able to downscale the figure so it is just readable. The interested reader can then always zoom to 400% on screen.
  6. Tables are usually horribly ineffective when it comes to information density. If space really is an issue, consider putting the items in the table into an inline enumeration; separated by semicolons; though it is less pretty (admit, a table looks very much like you put a lot of thought into its contents and the arrangement thereof).
  7. After each equation environment, use a \noindent. Not only does this look better, it also allows LaTeX to cram a few more words on the lines, saving some lines in the end.
  8. Citing with “Einstein et al. [Einstein1905]” is terribly expensive, luckily most computer science journals and conferences are satisfied with [42] and then the proper mention of [42] at the end in the References section.
  9. (not recommended) If you have an Asian name you may get away with skipping “the”, “a” or several other words, hoping the reviewers will take it for Chinglish and accept the paper. If the rest of the content is good (and this method is used solely to stay within the page limit) you may even get away with it.
  10. Come up with a different title. If your title spans two lines, observe the font size and imagine how many words in 10pt you could put there. Although a long title may look nice (and maybe gain some benefits in keyword-searches and the like) the paper real-estate may be worth more.

LaTeX tricks

Figure caption hack – captions are often dangling way below a figure. You can condense this:

\includegraphics[width=0.49\textwidth,viewport=100 34 1331 688, clip]{figures/myfig.pdf}
\vspace{-.8cm} \caption{my caption}

The negative vspace decreases the vertical size of the figure’s float. If you have a couple of figures, you can easily gain space for a few extra lines of text.

Latex: Squeezing the Vertical White Space

Squeezing Space in LaTeX by University of Cambridge, Engineering Department.

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