I have an overfull box in a French text which looks like this:

overfull box

The sequence at the end of the line is:

d'Ananias~: \og Vous

"Vous" cannot be hyphenated and \og inserts a non-secable space, so the only place where it could be cut is after the colon.

I'm using XeTeX with microtype (2.5 beta6 for XeTeX support). How can I fix this overfull box?

Do I have to allow lines to stretch more (and how)?

  • I think that the best and easiest thing to do is recomposing the phrase before the colon!
    – Spike
    Jun 13, 2011 at 8:27
  • @Spike: I'm afraid that is not an option.
    – raphink
    Jun 13, 2011 at 8:30
  • 1
    @Raphink: I don't use XeTeX, but with pdfTeX, passing the draft document class option to the microtype package will disable all micro-typographic extensions. Solution: Load microtype with the final option -- this may influence line-breaks.
    – lockstep
    Jun 13, 2011 at 9:08
  • 1
    @lockstep: I haven't passed the draft option. Instead, I use \overfullrule=1mm in the preamble, so only overfull boxes are debugged without affecting the rest.
    – raphink
    Jun 13, 2011 at 9:32
  • 1
    Try to add \emergencystretch=1.5em in the preamble.
    – lockstep
    Jun 13, 2011 at 9:39

2 Answers 2


The link Overfull gives "More satisfactory is to make small changes to \tolerance, incrementally, and then to look to see how the change affects the result; very small increases can often do what’s necessary."

%!TEX TS-program = xelatex

\usepackage[protrusion = true,


  Voici l'accusation que Pierre a formulée à l'encontre d'Ananias: \og Vous avez menti à l'Esprit-Saint. \fg{} Il est également possible de blasphémer contre le Ciel, contre les saints, contre la vertu.


enter image description here

With \tolerance=270 enter image description here

I think expansion does not work with xelatex

  • The result is indeed nicer this way. Thank you.
    – raphink
    Jun 13, 2011 at 12:17

Try to add \emergencystretch=1.5em in the preamble. This way, TeX's line-breaking algorithm will try a third time with the value of \emergencystretch added to the allowed space between words per line. (1.5em is half the value of \sloppy which should only be used as a last resort.)

  • 1
    This (on top of microtype) actually fixes 3/4 of my overfull lines. Thanks!
    – raphink
    Jun 13, 2011 at 10:07

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