I'm trying to bring together two styles, the airy Tufte's page layout

enter image description here

... and Michael OKane's "painless Memoir" document found on this site.

I've tried to edit OKane's template directly; I've tried to use the "geometry package" ... and yet, nothing seems to work.

Here's the striking result of my attempt with geometry:

enter image description here

Any help would be welcome. Thank you kindly.


2 Answers 2


Initial remarks

Firstly, consider what elements of Tufte's book design you want to emulate (the page geometry, the styling of running heads and headers, side notes, different widths and position of floats).

If the answer is "everything, of course" then think seriously about simply using the tufte-latex class, which is established, well-featured and includes all of these and more. It also has good manual-cum-examples.

Using tufte-latex will be a lot less work than reproducing the whole style in memoir, especially if you are not very familiar with memoir's many features. Some of the Tufte style, e.g. the different floats, are quite tricky. You should have a good reason for wanting to use memoir.

Secondly, if you must use memoir, I would start from scratch, rather than trying to adapt someone else's "simple" template.

Thirdly, if you're using memoir, you should use its features to do what you need to do, as its intended to replace or emulate a lot of other packages. For example, you shouldn't be using geometry to do the page layout.

Some Tufte elements in memoir

That said, I have selectively borrowed numerous elements of Tufte's design for my thesis, which is a memoir document, particularly the layout and handling of footnotes. At other points, for example the typeface, the Tufte style is less suitable for my document.

Here are examples of how I've implemented these elements, which I've done partly by reference to code in tufte-latex. These may help if you decide to proceed. This isn't a finished project and there are likely better ways of doing some of the following.

Here's what it looks like: https://i.stack.imgur.com/aQqXt.jpg

Page Layout

Based on an A4 two-side page, measurements from tufte-latex.



Ragged left body text

% ragged2e provides ragged justification with hyphenation
% linespacing ~ 14pt

Full-width running headers

Tufte uses loosely-tracked small caps for the running headers, which do look very nice. You will want a font with true small caps, however. I compile with XeTeX, so use fontspec's features to set this font up.


% font settings for page headers

% use small caps in running headers

% chapters on left, sections on right, without numbers

% full-width-headers

% use this

All footnotes are sidenotes

% text styling of all side footnotes
% styling and placement of mark
\footmarkstyle{{#1. }}
% memoir command - do all footnotes in margin

(edit) If sidenotes run off the bottom of the page, use the marginfix package. With many sidenotes, the extrafloats package might be needed.

Floats with side captions

Use memoir's own sidecaption environment. The ragged-left layout on verso pages is probably not something I will keep.


Full-width floats

% FULLWIDTH environment
% The following code should be used *after* any changes to the margins and
% page layout are made (e.g., after the geometry package has been loaded).

% \newlength{\fullwidthlen}
% \setlength{\fullwidthlen}{\marginparwidth}
% \addtolength{\fullwidthlen}{\marginparsep}

  • 3
    +1, very nice answer. What font did you use for the example on imgur? Jan 6, 2016 at 12:22
  • 1
    Thanks. It's FF Tisa fontshop.com/families/ff-tisa Jan 7, 2016 at 12:49
  • Thank you very much for the ideas and tricks; they are very useful for my PhD dissertation, the design of which is inspired by Tufte and Aaron Turon’s dissertation. Depending on the specific case, the first part of the fullwidth environment might need to be different depending on whether the pageis recto or verso, thus one can use \checkoddpage\ifoddpage\begin{adjustwidth*}{}{-\fullwidthlen}\else\begin{adjustwidth*}{-\fullwidthlen}{}\fi. It is recommended to have \strictpagechecktrue in the preamble. Feb 7, 2021 at 11:34

Rob Oakes says that;

The memoir class, by Peter Wilson, may be the Great Start of Africa of LaTeX document classes. In the right hands, it can be used to typeset nearly any type of book imaginable. And it turns out, that with a little bit of trickery, you can use its \marginpar and sidecaption environments to automatically incorporate ragged marginalia into your books and reports.

His article explains a shorter approach(I prefer that), it is not complete Tufte-Book yet after the mentioned tweaks. However its simplicity is beautiful and inspiring in order to similar tweaks if necessary/desired.

Ps: LyX tricks explained as well.

  • 1
    unfortunately the referenced article gives Access denied. when I try to open it. Could @trblnc fix this.
    – user855443
    Jun 11, 2018 at 18:39
  • Fixed. Please check again.
    – trblnc
    Jun 12, 2018 at 9:14

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