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I often hear that the best thing when dealing with floats in latex is to let latex do its thing and place them where it wants. I have mostly not listened to this but instead used the float-package and the H option to force the figures to where I want.

But then a while ago I decided to follow the advice and just leave it all to latex. This was for a report for class and I got a comment from the teaching assistant that I should avoid letting figures divide sections.

My question is therefore: Is latex float placement correct as in "if latex placed it there it is a proper place for it" or is it more like "if latex placed it there it makes the page look good from a distance".

To me these are two totally different things. It may look good, text flowing evenly around figures and tables but not be readable. And it may look worse, chunks of white space before/after figures but be really readable.

I would really appreciate some input on this.

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'Correct' here is not something there is an answer to. There are traditions in typesetting, but one can argue with them (see for example Tutfe's thoughts on figures). So I'm not sure this is really a good question: it's more of a discussion and will be a personal choice in the end. –  Joseph Wright Dec 9 '12 at 9:53
    
I don't know an answer, but I can propose you to look into the "The TeXbook" by Donald E. Knuth: that's awesome introduction to internal structure of TeX. –  m0nhawk Dec 9 '12 at 9:55
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My meaning of 'Correct' should be interpreted as "In a way that agrees with some widespread type setting practice". –  evading Dec 9 '12 at 9:56
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About the placement of figure inside the section where it is intended to, you can see: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/279/… –  hpesoj626 Dec 9 '12 at 9:56
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The float placement in LaTeX is not optimized to be correct in the sense that the content of the floating object should match the content in the context where it appears on the page. It is easy to see that there won't ever be a computer program to achieve this sort of thing without a lot of semantic modeling of the text content. Instead, it's a purely geometric optimization trying to fill the page(s) while at the same time not moving floating objects too far from their reference points. Don't expect any more! –  Stephan Lehmke Dec 9 '12 at 15:31
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closed as not constructive by Stephan Lehmke, egreg, lockstep, Thorsten, Stefan Kottwitz Dec 9 '12 at 17:59

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