I submitted my dissertation (> 200 pages), and was told by an editor that there are several pages where a long word (eg. an organic molecule name) or a citation actually extends beyond the right margin boundary. For printing purposes, I've been told to correct this.

Since this is a huge document, is there a way to do this globally, instead of going line by line, each time it occurs? I was thinking maybe a package that would let me do something like:



  • 3
    Fine tuning is a hard job before printing a document. I suggest you to use the draft option on the class and see the black marks on the margin showing the overfull. Usually you have to change a little bit the text around to solve the problem.
    – Sigur
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 16:55
  • That might have negative consequences on pages breaks etc. Might be easier to just use \setlength\overfullrule{5pt} it does the same thing.
    – daleif
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 18:36
  • What does ``\overfullrule{}'' actually mean? Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 2:14
  • \overfullrule{<dimension>} is the width of a rule placed on the output at the right of the line (or block of lines) that exceed the right margin. the purpose of this rule is to make it immediately obvious what is too wide. if there is a large blank space before this rule, then the problem is most likely a box that is defined to be wider than necessary. Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 4:39

2 Answers 2


the only way i know to do this globally without checking to see what words are extending into the margins is to use \sloppy, and you really don't want to do that. the resulting interword spacing is often terrible, and it can change previously "good" paragraphs.

the next easiest method is to look into the log file for overfull hbox messages, determine what words are involved, and add those with appropriate break points into a \hyphenation{...} list in the preamble.

if there are true exceptions, that aren't handled by this method, look to see whether they may be compounds with explicit hyphens -- those won't be hyphenated automatically. you can define a command \hyph to replace the explicit hyphen in a way that enables the automatic hyphenation routine to take effect. see Force hyphenation for a word beginning with a digit for the definition and rationale.

finally, if none of the above is applicable, insert "discretionary" hyphens into the affected word with \-, as in "hy\-phen\-ate".


How about including those culprit words into a hyphenation list? Look here: http://www.forkosh.com/latex/ltx-244.html

Have you tried adding


to your preamble?

  • You can also do this on a per-word basis with hyph\-en\-a\-tion. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 17:56

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