# Appropriate \tolerance for novel

Say I want to typeset a novel in a format close to the general standard (something like A5 format with top/bottom margins 2cm and margins 2cm & 2.5cm in the spine/non-spine sides of the book --- I don't know the correct term for the latter). What happens with the standard settings is that I get lots of overfull \hboxes. Some can be corrected using \-s, but others simply cannot. I know what TeX wants me to do in this case is to reword the text; however, when I typeset someone else's novel, that's kinda not an option.

So what do I do in this specific case where rewording the text is simply not possible? In some other posts, it is suggested to increase the \tolerance. It makes the layout a bit more ugly at some places, so that solution is not very satisfactory. But are there really any alternatives? If not, what would you set \tolerance to in the above case? (FYI, I tried with \tolerance=1600, mostly as an experiment. It's definitely not ugly.)

EDIT: On a side note, I'm using XeLaTeX with Linux Libertine O. But that shouldn't be a problem, right?

• Have you tried the microtype package? – Astrinus Jan 6 '15 at 8:28
• Yes, I always use it. The problem is there nevertheless. – Gaussler Jan 6 '15 at 8:42
• I'd try increasing \emergencystretch before I tried changing \tolerance – David Carlisle Jan 6 '15 at 11:04
• @Gaussler but you know the score by now: without an MWE impossible to give any detailed suggestions of changes to parameters. – David Carlisle Jan 6 '15 at 12:16
• @Gaussler: With a one-column document, you can probably manage with just \emergystretch=.5em. – morbusg Apr 7 '15 at 7:12

I'm typesetting a novel in LaTeX. The microtype package works well with pdflatex. If you don't use it, you won't benefit from it's features like Expansion, Kerning, Spacing and Tracking. (XeTeX does support Protrusion now) Here's a link to the TeX-stackexchange post regarding that issue.. Is microtype fully supported now by XeLaTeX? If not, how can I keep myself up-to-date?

You will also notice differences using different fonts. I've found some work more poorly than others. I'm using newcent "New Century Schoolbook". It's already prepackaged in TeXlive.

You can adjust the possible hyphenation of words in someone else's novel.

\usepackage{hyphenat}
\hyphenation{divis-ible hy-phenate hyphe-nate always indivisible master-piece}
\begin{document}
Now this word is not \nohyphens{divisible}. This word is now divisible again.


You can also justify with \sloppy if you'd settle for a more apparently squashed or stretched line than perfection, then return to \fussy justification when you only want the best standards available.

• In fact, I switched to LuaLaTeX since then, which supports more features in microtype. – Gaussler Mar 24 '15 at 11:09
• Just a note for users holding back from switching to LuaTeX/XeTeX based purely on the options available in microtype; The only thing setting them apart from pdfTeX in that regard is font expansion, which one could actually consider bad typography! – morbusg Apr 7 '15 at 7:09