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I am modifying a thesis template for graduate students at my university and would like to improve our class file to better meet the graduate school's desires. The lady that must ok the format of a thesis has a very good eye for identifying space that is too big or too small... so she has identified that a thesis coming from a LaTeX template sometimes has flexible space - a double space, for example, does not always seem to be the same space/length on each page. Another example might be the space before or after a section or subsection heading.

My understanding is that this is controlled by the use of plus and minus when defining length parameters. Our class fill is built on top of the report class, which uses the plus and minus options on numerous occasions. Though this is a very nice feature, it is something that I am interested in turning off for the purposes of pleasing the graduate school. So, my question actually leads to a few questions... Can this feature be turned off globally? If so, how? If not, how would you remove the option for specific cases (like for the space around section/subsections, etc)?

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A "solution" for obeying these (absurd) requests is to issue \raggedbottom just before \begin{document} and live with poorly filled pages. :( – egreg Oct 2 '12 at 23:07
I cann't believe that a bigger or smaller space could be a reason to refuse a thesis. Nevertheless without the name of the class (if available on CTAN) or a link to it one can only guess. A complete minimal working example (MWE) could help to illustrate the wrong spacing. For a good typography are slightly varying distances neccessary. – Kurt Oct 2 '12 at 23:30
This is known as typesetting on a grid, TeX isn't particularly optimised for it (and LaTeX and its standard classes would take major surgery to ensure that all items are always placed on the grid) however you may want to look at some of the answers at tex.stackexchange.com/search?q=grid – David Carlisle Oct 3 '12 at 0:10
Welcome to TeX.SE. – Peter Grill Oct 3 '12 at 1:01

You can't turn off how TeX handles glue (i.e. make it ignore plus and minus), but you can redefine all dimensions (that matter in your case) with variable lengths to contain only fixed lengths. Maybe some of the questions on grid typesetting with LaTeX can help?

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The lady in the graduate school thankfully cannot turn down a thesis for a formatting issue like this (when the graduation deadline comes, it gets passes as is). The motivation instead is to make the formatting process less painful for future students. I am looking into each suggestion - \raggedbottom, grid typesetting, and perhaps redefining dimensions one at a time. Thanks for the feedback and I'll let you know what works. (An MWE is not straightforward, but if easy can do if nothing else helps.) – Karen Oct 4 '12 at 19:58

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