Many conferences in my area require that papers be submitted on letter paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins and a 12pt leading. So we end up with 9" for text. (I'm sure there's a name for that, but it is escaping me.) This gives us 9 in * 72.27 pt/in = 650.43 pt. If we subtract TeX's default \topskip = 10 pt for the top line, that gives us 640.43 pt for a little more than 54.3691 lines including the first line.

In a one column document, this is typically not an issue since there will be many paragraph breaks between which the extra (approximately) 0.3691 lines can go. In a two column document, this becomes fairly noticeable, especially with long paragraphs. See


for an example which isn't terrible, but quite noticeable.

One option is to set \topskip=14.43 pt. Another option would be to make the bottom margin 76.7 pt. A third option would be to modify both \topskip and the bottom margin. A fourth option (which I have used for all of my papers until now) is to just ignore it as it seems highly likely that no one on the program committee will notice and it's certainly not going to make a difference to my acceptance/rejection.

Is there a recommended way to handle this?

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    You have an error in your calculations: You subtracted the 2" from 8.5" (the width). And the text height is available as \textheight. – Caramdir Apr 16 '11 at 4:19
  • @Caramdir: Indeed! It's been a very long week. – TH. Apr 16 '11 at 7:21

Add heightrounded to your \usepackage{geometry}. It basically modifies the bottom margin automatically.

  • That is handy. I'll give that a shot. – TH. Apr 16 '11 at 3:46

A good approach is to use the techniques, outlined in the grid package. This package has been described in the TUGBoat article Mimicking Traditional Typesetting and is available in ctan. You do not only need to worry about text, but also figures and equations, which they all have to be multiples of the baseline.

enter image description here

  • For things like figures, headings, and equations, I'm not too worried about them. They have stretchable space. I'd love to have real grid typesetting, but the gird package has never worked for me. At this point, I'm content to just have a column of text look decent on its own, even if it doesn't match the next column. Thanks for pointing out the TUGBoat article. I'll definitely check it out. – TH. Apr 16 '11 at 3:46
  • @TH Actually, it is not all that difficult to set figures as multiples by setting the image height, when you include the figure. – Yiannis Lazarides Apr 16 '11 at 3:59

Would it be a serious typographical mistake to add the additional space to the leading? With \baselineskip=12.0835pt (after \begin{document}!) I get nicely aligned lines in your example.

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    The difference also disappears if you use \raggedbottom. – Philippe Goutet Apr 16 '11 at 9:33
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    @Philippe -- but \raggedbottom (otherwise very useful) doesn't give you the required 1in bottom margin. sigh. – barbara beeton Apr 16 '11 at 12:18

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