# Is it possible to have a two-column figure caption in revtex?

I am writing an article using REVTeX 4.1, in a two-column layout (so my preamble starts, essntially, \documentclass[reprint, aps, pra]{revtex4-1}). One of my figures is very wide (i.e. uses the figure* environment) and has a very extensive caption. I have tried to migrate as much of this content into the main text as I could but the caption is still hard to read.

I am hoping that a two-column layout (or even three columns?) will make the caption easier to read. However, I'm having trouble implementing this to see if this is even a good idea. REVTeX is known to clash with multicol and takes over all the column management, leaving available only the low-level commands \onecolumngrid and \twocolumngrid which are not very well documented and which don't seem to get on well with a figure*'s caption.

Is this possible?

For completeness, here's a MWE.

\documentclass[reprint, aps, pra]{revtex4-1}

\usepackage[demo]{graphicx}
\usepackage{lipsum}

\begin{document}
\maketitle

\lipsum[1-8]

\begin{figure*}[t]
\includegraphics[width=\columnwidth]{figure}
\caption{
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Ut purus elit, vestibulum ut,
placerat ac, adipiscing vitae, felis. Curabitur dictum gravida mauris. Nam arcu libero,
nonummy eget, consectetuer id, vulputate  a, magna. Donec vehicula augue eu neque.
Pellentesque habitant morbi  tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis
egestas. Mauris  ut leo. Cras viverra metus rhoncus sem. Nulla et lectus vestibulum
urna  fringilla ultrices. Phasellus eu tellus sit amet tortor gravida placerat.  Integer
sapien est, iaculis in, pretium quis, viverra ac, nunc. Praesent  eget sem vel leo ultrix
bibendum. Aenean faucibus. Morbi dolor nulla,  malesuada eu, pulvinar at, mollis ac.
Curabitur auctor semper nulla.  Donec varius orci eget risus. Duis nibh mi, congue eu,
accumsan eleifend, sagittis quis, diam. Duis eget orci sit amet orci dignissim rutrum.
}
\end{figure*}

\lipsum[1-6]

\end{document}

• It's a journal class: you should not mess with the layout. – Joseph Wright Feb 6 '15 at 22:31
• What do you mean by "hard to read"? Or, what would be "easier to read"? – Werner Feb 6 '15 at 22:38

You can, but I don't think the copy editors of the journal you're submitting the paper to will be happy. Here is the code for a two column caption:

\documentclass[reprint, aps, pra]{revtex4-1}

\usepackage[demo]{graphicx}
\usepackage{lipsum}

\begin{document}
\maketitle

\lipsum[1-8]

\begin{figure*}[t]
\includegraphics[width=\columnwidth]{figure}
\makeatletter
\renewcommand{\@makecaption}[2]{%
\par\vskip\abovecaptionskip\begingroup\small\rmfamily
\splittopskip=0pt
\setbox\@tempboxa=\vbox{
\@arrayparboxrestore \let \\\@normalcr
\@make@capt@title {#1}{#2}
}%
\setbox\z@=\vsplit\@tempboxa to .55\ht\@tempboxa
\setbox\z@=\vtop{\hrule height 0pt \unvbox\z@}
\setbox\tw@=\vtop{\hrule height 0pt \unvbox\@tempboxa}
\noindent\box\z@\hfill\box\tw@\par
\endgroup\vskip \belowcaptionskip
}
\makeatother

\caption[]{
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Ut purus elit, vestibulum ut,
placerat ac, adipiscing vitae, felis. Curabitur dictum gravida mauris. Nam arcu libero,
nonummy eget, consectetuer id, vulputate  a, magna. Donec vehicula augue eu neque.
Pellentesque habitant morbi  tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis
egestas. Mauris  ut leo. Cras viverra metus rhoncus sem. Nulla et lectus vestibulum
urna  fringilla ultrices. Phasellus eu tellus sit amet tortor gravida placerat.  Integer
sapien est, iaculis in, pretium quis, viverra ac, nunc. Praesent  eget sem vel leo ultrix
bibendum. Aenean faucibus. Morbi dolor nulla,  malesuada eu, pulvinar at, mollis ac.
Curabitur auctor semper nulla.  Donec varius orci eget risus. Duis nibh mi, congue eu,
accumsan eleifend, sagittis quis, diam. Duis eget orci sit amet orci dignissim rutrum.
}
\end{figure*}

\lipsum[1-6]

\end{document}


• Well, the preprint is already on the arXiv (figure 5 here), but I'll probably re-upload with an accepted version once that exists. The journal will most likely kill it, of course. Mostly, I just wanted to play around with it and see whether it works or not - it's a huge, complex figure with a very long caption that I don't want to cut, and it makes for very difficult reading in its current huge-block-of-text form. If there's something that can make it easier to read, at least on the arXiv version, then I'm happy to grab it. – E.P. Nov 7 '15 at 23:26
• I'd be interested in your take on whether this is advisable for this specific example, btw ;). – E.P. Nov 7 '15 at 23:26
• @E.P. My advice would be to write short captions. After seeing the PDF, I'd recommend either shortening the caption (and moving the description to the text) or leaving it as is. I don't think you gain in clarity with a two column format that would also be confusing because the article is in that format too. – egreg Nov 7 '15 at 23:28
• Thanks for the input. Shorter captions was of course the first thing I considered but this is really the minimal form I want to keep. (The figures are what keeps this long paper going and interesting, and I need someone who's skimming the paper to be able to get a sense of the figure from just its caption.) I'll try out your code on Monday and see how well it does against the double-column-on-double-column drawback. – E.P. Nov 7 '15 at 23:38
• Code works as expected. Not to say that I'll keep it, but it's nice that the tool is out there. Thanks again for your input. – E.P. Nov 10 '15 at 15:41