I've been using multiple column formats for a while now.

Sometimes it's through the multicol package, sometimes it's using the twocolumn option for the document class. In both cases, dealing with mixed column numbers can be a pain. It's less of a pain, and, more importantly, more predictable using a twocolumn document class, but it's less flexible.

What is, at this point, the idiomatic way of dealing with multiple column environments? In particular, what is the best way to deal with needing an environment with figures and tables spanning multiple columns?

My current solution is using the multicol package and ending the multicols environment, placing the figure, and starting the multicols environment. This can ruin space optimisation, though. Another way this is done is by creating a nonfloat minipage. Neither solution is particularly appetizing, and it really seems like there must be a better way at this point.

1 Answer 1


There is no better way than you probably found out on your own, see here: Getting floating objects in multicol environments . Sophisticated layouts with multiple columns including pictures and tables at different locations on each page, partially in the margin, are possible, but you have more or less to programm them step by step.

The newest version of the multicol package (1.8) provides a sensible command for placing text in margins, but the old limitations for floats still apply.

I never tried, but after listening to a speech on the Dante meeting in April 2014, I'm convinced that LuaTeX offers a way to do whatever with margins and columns, but someone has to write a Lua-Multicol-Package yet.

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