By default, LaTeX allows a page break after the first two lines of paragraphs following section/subsection headings. How can I enlarge this minimum to, say, three lines or 10 percent of the value of \textheight?

7 Answers 7


There may be a generalisable mechanism: Using e-TeX and its \clubpenalties command. In the following example, patching \@afterheading seems to do the trick.



    {\clubpenalty \@M}{\clubpenalties 3 \@M \@M 0}{}{}
    {\clubpenalty \@clubpenalty}{\clubpenalties 2 \@clubpenalty 0}{}{}


\textheight 480pt









An extra line.




UPDATE: egreg has written a detailed explanation of \widowpenalties and \clubpenalties.

  • 4
    Neat. I didn't know \clubpenalties. One lives and learn. Aug 26, 2010 at 14:22
  • 1
    That must be the first time I taught you something, Ulrike. ;-) Note: I'm not sure about the workings of \clubpenalties, but I've edited my code example so that the third penalty value (which seems to affect the third and all following lines of a paragraph) is 0 instead of \@clubpenalty (which defaults to 150).
    – lockstep
    Aug 26, 2010 at 14:28
  • 2
    I don't think you need the third argument at all if you want to affect only the first 3 lines. But I have some doubts about your patch: Your setting affects now all following paragraphs. If you want to set the penalty only for the first, you must reset \clubpenalties with "\clubpenalties 0" in the "else"-part of \@afterheading. Aug 26, 2010 at 14:51
  • If I replace \clubpenalties 3 \@M \@M 0 with \clubpenalties 2 \@M \@M, no page break is allowed at all. But your're right about all following paragraphs being affected; I've edited my code example to solve this issue.
    – lockstep
    Aug 26, 2010 at 15:29
  • Oooh, I didn't know about \clubpenalties either. Nor did I know about the etex documentation or etoolbox. That's a good value answer! Aug 27, 2010 at 13:38

I solved this with the needspace and titlesec packages, as in:


Hardcoding 1in is crude -- should probably be a multiple of line height. At any rate, this works great in my documents without the need for hand tuning each section.

  • @srking: Thanks, but Ulrike Fischer and Lev Bishop already mentioned needspace in their answers.
    – lockstep
    Mar 27, 2011 at 1:17
  • 3
    @lockstep - Sure, but I just found combining needspace with titlesec capability to be particularly convenient. Cheers.
    – srking
    Mar 27, 2011 at 2:44
  • 5
    @lockstep: The advantage of srking's solution is obviouly that one doesn't need to manually put \Needspace (and that it works without \patchcmd trickery), so +1 from me. Mar 27, 2011 at 7:57
  • @Hendrik: You're right -- +1, and +1 for @srking's answer.
    – lockstep
    Mar 27, 2011 at 9:30
  • 2
    Actually, titlesec provides a feature very similar to needspace with \bottomtitlespace. Jul 1, 2011 at 10:09

You could use needspace. With a bit calculations and tests it shouldn't be too difficult to find sensible values:


\lipsum[1] \vspace{27\baselineskip}


\lipsum[1] \vspace{28\baselineskip}


    {\clubpenalty \@M}{\clubpenalties 3 \@M \@M 0}{}{}

\patchcmd works for all cleanable parameterless macros, but it is meant for cleanable parameterized macros. For parameterless macros, LaTeX \g@addto@macro does the job without the need for the <success> and <failure> parts and, of course, without the need for etoolbox.

  • Oops, I am very sorry, I got it wrong! \patchcmd searches and replaces!
    – Ahmed Musa
    Aug 26, 2010 at 16:44

titlesec offers the option nobottomtitles to move titles close to the bottom to the next page. The starred variant is more accurate, see the manual. By default the threshold is .2\textheight.

\renewcommand{\bottomtitlespace}{.2\textheight} % default value
  • This is the only option that actually works.
    – Johan
    Jun 27, 2018 at 12:08
  • it seems to work well, except i am losing the format of my sections.
    – JeT
    Feb 2, 2019 at 1:06

I haven't tried it myself, but perhaps you can use the needspace package for this. Be sure to heed the FAQ warning about how this may confuse tex, even if you do succeed in preventing page breaks between the lines (eg, ending up with an overfull page leaving those lines jutting out of the bottom of the page).


There isn't a generalisable mechanism.

Single last lines or single first lines of a paragraph, appearing at the beginning or the end of a page, are known as 'widows' and 'orphans/clubs' (I think they're that way round). TeX has a mechanism for avoiding, or at least penalising, widows and orphans, but it's specialised for this case of keeping the first or last two lines together, and it can't be extended to three lines or more.

There may be a way of addressing this by doing scary output routine gymnastics, but that would be a very exotic thing to do.

  • 2
    This true for TeX90, but wrong for eTeX - which all modern engines provide. Sep 6, 2012 at 21:23
  • Oooh, I didn't know about \clubpenalties -- ta! Sep 18, 2012 at 21:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .