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Is there a way to tell LaTex to avoid putting figures consecutively in a single column. Instead, I want to distribute the figures in the top of the columns and/or other pages in the same way (only top), and only if it is really necessary (or otherwise stated) to put them consecutively.

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twocolumn document mode does not allow the traditional floats with optional float placement specifiers [htbp]. The only specifier that works is [H] from the float package. Even then things are not 100%. The only "movable" float is given by the starred versions *. As such, layouts of your requirement have to be manually adjusted. See the UK TeX FAQ entry on "Floats in multicolumn setting". –  Werner Oct 18 '11 at 4:50
    
@Werner: Is there a way to avoid consecutive figures in a one column environment? –  Peter Grill Oct 19 '11 at 4:16
    
As I understand it, consecutive means that the figures literally follow one another in the typeset output. So, if this is the case, the only way around it in onecolumn mode is to space the images out in the actual text and use the "here" float specifier (like [h] or actuall [H]). Using any one of [tbp] will create a FIFO list of images, that can be flushed together if there's enough room on a page, thereby making them appear consecutively. –  Werner Oct 19 '11 at 6:31
    
@Werner: Yes, but this question is about figures being on top of page. So, with the [t] constraint, how to force figures to not follow each other? What I was getting at is that we can't solve this problem with multiple columns, until we can at least solve it with a single column. –  Peter Grill Oct 20 '11 at 23:18

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

To control the positioning of single-column figures (i.e. the non-starred version) in a two-column layout, you may adjust the topnumber counter which controls the maximum number of floats at the top of the column (and is also used for figures with onecolumn).

\documentclass[twocolumn]{article}

\setcounter{topnumber}{1}% default value is 2

\usepackage{lipsum}

\begin{document}

\lipsum[1-5]

\begin{figure}
\centering
\rule{1cm}{1cm}
\caption{A figure}
\end{figure}

\begin{figure}
\centering
\rule{1cm}{1cm}
\caption{Another figure}
\end{figure}

\end{document}
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Very nice - if you only want the figures at the top in columns, add \setcounter{bottomnumber}{0} (default value is 1) as well. –  Werner Oct 25 '11 at 23:57
    
Thanks, that is a good workaround. :) –  adn Nov 1 '11 at 7:33

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