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I have a footnote that ends with an awkward orphan.

enter image description here

The footnote is so long and the orphan so small that I would normally be able to fix this quite easily by pushing the orphan 12 back up on the preceding line with a non-breaking space character ~.

But in this case the orphan is created by biblatex, and I have no idea how to remove an orphan created by it. I tried the only thing I could think of, which was to add ~ to the reference, i.e. [~12]{elseth1982}, but it has no effect. Is there any way I can fix this locally (i.e. without adding a non-breakable space before all page numbers in my citations)?

The relevant part of my document looks like this (it's not a MWE, so no need to try to compile it):

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[style = authoryear-comp]{biblatex}
\renewcommand{\postnotedelim}{\iffieldnums{postnote}{\addcolon\addspace}{\addspace}} % use colon with space before pages, but use just a space before citations that aren't pages (§, no., etc.)

\begin{document}
Text\footnote{Footnote text\parencites[3]{maageroe1978}[3]{maageroe1981}[33]{maageroe1983}[12]{elseth1982}.}
\end{document}

EDIT: The terminology confuses me here. I would've thought a single word on a line by itself at the end of a paragraph would be a widow (since it "has no future"), but Wikipedia calls it an orphan.

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  • 1
    Ah, I see now I got confused by the term "orphan". It usually involves a page break, but I now realize you're referring to a line break without a page break.
    – Mico
    Sep 19, 2015 at 14:40
  • 1
    Try \renewcommand{\postnotedelim}{\iffieldnums{postnote}{\addcolon\addnbspace}{\addspace}}. The space inserted after the colon is currently breakable and we probably don't want that.
    – moewe
    Sep 19, 2015 at 15:25
  • 3
    Now, If you are worried about applying this globally (why would you? it bothers you now, it will bother you again if it happens again), use \AtNextCite{\renewcommand{\postnotedelim}{\iffieldnums{postnote}{\addcolon\addnbspace}{\add‌​space}}} just before the offending citation. I would have thought it desirable to hold the page number to the colon in all cases with your layout, but then I'm not sure about conventions here. If there were a page prefix like "p." I wouldn't worry about the break too much, but here it just looks awkward.
    – moewe
    Sep 19, 2015 at 15:29
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    To be honest, it wouldn't bother me here either. If it were pushed to another page, that would bother me. But here, I wouldn't be worried about it.
    – cfr
    Sep 19, 2015 at 15:38
  • 1
    OK, but the way to get rid of the orphan here is to make the page number stick, I think. (It definitely seems the easiest here.) I have to say breaks don't look too bad, but I think I would still prefer the page number to stick, but then I'm not a professional when it comes to typographical subtleties such as this. (And another thing one should keep in mind is the repercussions from such a change: the lines in the example are quite short and taking away break points can have negative effects). If you don't already use the microtype package try that first, it can help with these troubles.
    – moewe
    Sep 19, 2015 at 15:39

1 Answer 1

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As you seem to have a normal footnote you could try \looseness-1 (it depends on the concrete text if it helps):

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{lipsum}
\begin{document}
Text\footnote{%
%\looseness-1 
Footnote text\lipsum*[1] text text text text12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12).}
\end{document}

without \looseness

enter image description here

with \looseness

enter image description here

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  • But won't this push more onto the last line, so the widow elsewhere will be just as bad? That is, it may fix the line break issue in the footnote, but it won't fix the problem which avoiding that line break is supposed to solve? Or will this push enough to take up an additional line as well, which might, I suppose, solve the problem?
    – cfr
    Sep 19, 2015 at 15:46
  • @cfr If it makes the footnote one line shorter, it will also fix the widow elsewhere, as making the footnote one line shorter will allow one more line of body text before the footnote. (Caveat - I don't know what looseness does).
    – Sverre
    Sep 19, 2015 at 15:49
  • @Sverre I may have misunderstood what it does. The screenshot made me think that it reduced the density per line, but perhaps it increases it, in which case you're right. I guess you can always try it ;).
    – cfr
    Sep 19, 2015 at 15:54
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    @cfr: With \looseness TeX tries to make the paragraph shorter (or longer with a positive number) than the "natural" number of lines. But it won't do it if it doesn't work. Sep 19, 2015 at 15:54
  • I've been reading in the TeXbook now, and I gather that how aggressive \looseness is will depend on the value of \tolerance, which is set by default to 200. I have no idea what a good or bad tolerance is, so should I just leave \tolerance alone and conclude that TeX will apply \looseness appropriately (that is not too aggressively)?
    – Sverre
    Sep 19, 2015 at 16:55

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