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From Beautiful Evidence:

enter image description here

Each paragraph is left-justified but neither excessively hyphenated nor ragged on the right side.

The tufte-book class seems to be too ragged. How can I configure the balance between "raggedness" and hyphenation in the tufte-book class?

It seems to use

\RequirePackage{ragged2e}
\setlength{\RaggedRightRightskip}{\z@ plus 0.08\hsize}

but I don't know if this is the right variable to modify.

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That is the correct variable to play with. It is allow lines to be up to 8% shorter than standard. Try reducing it via e.g.

\setlength{\RaggedRightRightskip}{0pt plus 0.02\hsize}

for a percentage (here 2%) of the line length or

\setlength{\RaggedRightskip}{0pt plus 1em}

for an absolute possible shortfall. For the tufte classes this change needs to be made in the preamble.

See the documentation of the ragged2e package for further information.

Here are a couple of samples, first with a short fall of 1em:

Sample one

and then as standard

Sample two

\documentclass{tufte-handout}

\usepackage{lipsum}       %Dummy text in Latin
\usepackage[latin]{babel} %Correct hyphenation patters

\setlength{\RaggedRightRightskip}{0pt plus 1em}

\begin{document}

\lipsum[1]

\end{document}
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  • Any attempt to use \setlength{\RaggedRightRightskip} in Lualatex (e.g. in above MWE with babel removed) leads either to a latex system crash or \RaggedRightRightskip undefined error. The macro is still mentioned in the manual. Aug 15 '20 at 12:21
  • @AubreyBlumsohn I can't reproduce that; the example runs fine for me under lualatex. Aug 17 '20 at 8:35
  • My bad -- actually it is the tufte-handout. The above MWE does not compile -- probably a previous version of tufte-handout loaded \usepackage{ragged2e} but the current version does not (or maybe just under Lua?). Adding \usepackage{ragged2e} to the above MWE corrects the problem. Aug 17 '20 at 9:45
  • @AubreyBlumsohn The newest version of tufte-handout I can find is 2015/06/21 v3.5.2 (both ctan and github) and the above code works with that in pdf- and lualatex. Aug 18 '20 at 7:36

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