By default, the "book" class produces a layout with a big space for margin notes. One consequence of this behavior is the binding side has a smaller margin than the other side (with the twoside option which is the default behavior).

I don't use margin notes (at all) and I'm wondering if there is a way to say it to LaTeX. I would like not only that the margin notes space would be removed but also that LaTeX rearranges the other settings in consequence (for example, by increasing the binding side size).

I could use geometry package (example below) or other way of define my own margins.


However I prefer to stay as close as possible to the default behavior. Like it is not so common to use margin notes (in academic books for example), there should be a option to deactivate margin notes. I didn't find it, perhaps someone does...

Reminder : the default layout of book class : enter image description here

  • 2
    Isn't the inner margin supposed to be smaller so that the sum of two inner margins equals one outer margin (leaving binding correction out here) for an even layout of the two pages side by side...? (See for example section 3.2 of [texdoc.net/pkg/memdesign](memdesign).) Or do you mean something different?
    – cgnieder
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 14:46
  • 7
    It's a common misconception that the inner margin should be wider than the outer margin so that, taking care of the space for the binding, they end up to be equal. This isn't true for the vast majority of books (at least those printed before the “desktop publishing” era, when bad typography became the standard).
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 14:51
  • @egreg I agree but if the only reason to have outer margin wider than inner one is the margin notes and if you don't use margin notes, should it be more rational to 1. remove space dedicated to notes and 2. adjust margin in consequence?
    – ppr
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 15:12
  • @ppr The reason for having wider outer margins is not related to margin notes.
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 15:13
  • @egreg Thanks. If you explain what are these reasons (or paste a link to a explanation), I will consider that as a answer to my question.
    – ppr
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 15:20

3 Answers 3


I would say that the book class (nor any others) does not saves space for margin notes; rather, it allows you to specify the maximum space that you want to allow for marginalia so that they do not exceed the specified margin widths.

In two sided printing (e.g., for books) the basic layout is a double spread --- left hand and right hand pages open where the width of the outer margins are equal and the apparent width of the gutter (the distance between the left hand and right hand textblocks) is the same, i.e, all three white columns are the same width.

See any good book on typography; Robert Bringhurst's `The Elements of Typographic Style' is one of the best.

\usepackage[nomarginpar, margin=.5in]{geometry}

Or without a package:

\marginparwidth 0pt
\marginparsep 0pt
\oddsidemargin \dimexpr .5in -1in
\textwidth \dimexpr \pdfpagewidth -2\oddsidemargin -2in
  1. Remove margin notes

  2. Set left margin to .5in

    This step is tricky because oddsidemargin is not the length from the left edge, but the length from 1 inch from the left edge. So when you set it you have to subtract that inch.

  3. Increase body width

    Again, normally the body would be pagewidth - 2 * margin, but we need to account for the inch offset on both sides.

  • I wouldn't recommend to do margins by hand, geometry does a fine job.
    – Johannes_B
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 16:00

To sum up, there seems to have no way to say to LaTeX book class that you will not use any margin notes.

Another point (from @egreg in a comment) is that, even if you don't use margin note, it doesn't imply that the layout should be different. So there is no sense to try to tell LaTeX you will not use margin notes (because it will not change the layout). According to egreg : "the reason for having wider outer margins is not related to margin notes".

It seems hard to believe for me that LaTeX book class shouldn't have a different layout if margin notes didn't exist. After all, this class "saves" some space for these notes ; without this constraint, should layout be different?

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