I am using pdflatex and just want to know how to change the footnote line (thickness, length).

Besides that: How can I set the distance between text-lines in the text.


3 Answers 3


The footnote rule should take no space on the page. That's the purpose of

\kern -3pt
\hrule width 2in
\kern 2.6pt

First of all TeX backs up vertically by 3pt, then prints the rule (which is by default 0.4pt thick) and then skips by 2.6pt: the total is zero.

So a correct redefinition would be

  \kern -3pt
  \hrule width \textwidth height 1pt
  \kern 2pt

Instead of \textwidth one can also put an explicit dimension. The rule height added to the positive kern after the rule should give the negative of the back up amount preceding the rule.

One should note that the amount of skipping down gives the separation between the rule and the footnote text. With this definition the rule will be at 2pt + height of strut from the baseline of the footnote's first line. Before the rule there's a vertical skip measured by \skip\footins, whose default value is 9pt plus 4pt minus 2pt. With the 3pt back up, the space between the text and the footnote rule will be at least 4pt and at most 10pt.

Jan Tschichold frowned upon footnote rules: he said that there should be none at all or it must occupy the entire text width.

  • 2
    +1 for explanation of \kern. Is there any special reason to use -3pt in LaTeX2e source? Why not \hrule width 2in\kern-0.4pt?
    – Leo Liu
    Jun 29, 2011 at 15:36
  • 1
    So we could define lengths for the width and height to allow beginners to adjust them easily? \newlength{\footnoterulewidth} \setlength{\footnoterulewidth}{.4\columnwidth} \newlength{\footnoteruleheight} \setlength{\footnoteruleheight}{.4pt} \renewcommand{\footnoterule}{% \kern -3pt \hrule width \footnoterulewidth height \footnoteruleheight \kern \dimexpr 3pt - \footnoteruleheight \relax } Jun 29, 2011 at 15:57
  • @Leo: I assume to place the line 3pt above the first footnote line, i.e. as separation. Jun 29, 2011 at 15:59
  • 1
    @Martin: It is interesting, this can be put into a document class like memoir or KOMA-script. I think for beginners it is better not to change the definition, unless to remove the rule.
    – Leo Liu
    Jun 29, 2011 at 16:05
  • 1
    @Martin: this is code for a small package that provides \setfootrule. It can have the option none for suppressing the rule maybe hooking to footmisc.
    – egreg
    Jun 29, 2011 at 18:02

You can redefine \footnoterule to do what you want. For instance, here's a really ugly footnote rule:


The first command of the \rule command is how long it is, the second how thick.

Given that the footnote rule should not actually take up any space on the page, egreg's answer should be preferred to this one.

  • I think \textwidth would be more correct here than \linewidth. But isn't the footnote rule not anyway shorter than that? (I hardly use footnotes) Jun 29, 2011 at 15:42
  • @Martin yes, and normally it's much less that 5 points thick. The point was to show how to change it, not to suggest what to change it to. You're right about \textwidth over \linewidth but then, see my first point...
    – Seamus
    Jun 29, 2011 at 18:22
  • With shorter I meant shorter than \textwidth, not the height/thickness. The normal length (or width) is .4\columnwidth which is like .4\textwidth. Jun 29, 2011 at 18:25
  • 1
    @Martin my suggestion is bad on both dimensions. (I did say it was a really ugly rule). That wasn't the point of my example. If it's definitely wrong you can change it to what you want. If it's alright, you might just leave it as is and not learn how to change all the parameters...
    – Seamus
    Jun 29, 2011 at 18:27

The equivalence of the original definition is:

\newcommand\footnoterule{\kern-3pt \hrule width 2in \kern 2.6pt}

You can redefine \footnoterule to control it. For example:

\renewcommand\footnoterule{{\color{blue}\hrule height 2pt}} % a long blue line
  • 1
    LaTeX commands should be preferred over plainTeX ones for answers. The latter easily confuse beginners. But +1 on mentioning the use of colors. Jun 29, 2011 at 15:27
  • 2
    -1 for not keeping into account that the output routine relies on the fact that the footnote rule should take no space on the page. See comments in source2e.pdf, page 301 for the A4 version.
    – egreg
    Jun 29, 2011 at 15:34
  • 5
    @Martin: this is one case where primitive commands /must/ be used; \rule starts a paragraph, which is not wanted here.
    – egreg
    Jun 29, 2011 at 15:36
  • @egreg: Thanks for the explanation. I really appreciate it. Jun 29, 2011 at 15:43
  • @all: thanks...that was really helpful. Thanks.
    – fab
    Jun 29, 2011 at 15:56

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