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PDFTeX typesets my document in two columns. Unfortunately, when a person opens the PDF, the PDF does not let the person's mouse pick up text from one column, but rather interleaves text from left and right, which makes no sense.

To illustrate:

Here is some text      Here is some text
in the left column.    in the right column.
It speaks of           It speaks of
leftward things.       rightward things.

Interested in the left text, the person tries to highlight it with his mouse (maybe to copy it into an e-mail, for example). Regrettably, this is what his mouse picks up:

Here is some text Here is some text in the left column. in the right column. It speaks of It speaks of leftward things. rightward things.

Understandably, this annoys my audience.

Solutions?

FURTHER INFORMATION

I am using LaTeX's report class in \twocolumn mode. Packages used are probably irrelevant to my question, but happen to be these: ifthen; graphicx; amsmath; caption; hyperref.

I do not know whether my problem is a TeX issue, a LaTeX issue, a DVI issue (but does PDFTeX even use DVI?), or a PDFTeX issue. Actually, I do not believe that it is a PDFTeX issue, since the problem arises even if I use latex and dvipdf instead of pdflatex.

My audience knows little or nothing about TeX, so it does no good to provide the audience my LaTeX source. The mouse problem only makes them complain that I should instead have used Microsoft Word—which, obviously, I would rather not do.

UPDATE

A developer of Evince, the PDF reader, has kindly come here to comment below. He has not posted an answer as such, but his comments are very much worth reading. You can find his comments by the name @gpoo both under this question and under the accepted answer below.

(Since the answerer has noted that he prefers other software, I should note that I rather like Evince, myself. In fact, I use Evince even though I do not use GNOME, with which Evince is usually associated.)

EXAMPLE

A boring example follows. If you compile it to PDF, open the PDF, and try to copy text from the left column with your mouse, it does not work. Why not?

\documentclass[twocolumn]{article}
\begin{document}
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.

\section{First}

  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.

  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.

  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.

\section{second}

  Here is some text. Here is more text.

  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
  Here is some text. Here is more text.
\end{document}
  • 1
    Sorry, I can select text columnwise (using Adobe Reader), there is no mixing between columns – user31729 Feb 15 '16 at 15:40
  • 3
    This is a viewer issue. Adobe Reader, Skim and Preview all pick up the first column. I can only reproduce the problem with Evince, and I had long since concluded that Evince should never be used. – Ian Thompson Feb 15 '16 at 15:48
  • 1
    @IanThompson: Apparently yes. I tested with okular as well -- the copying is as expected. I've not installed evince at all. – user31729 Feb 15 '16 at 15:52
  • 1
    @ChristianHupfer --- answered. – Ian Thompson Feb 15 '16 at 16:13
  • 1
    It works as expected with Evince 3.18, which makes sense if newer Okular also works (both use Poppler to render the document). – gpoo Feb 15 '16 at 19:31
11

This is a viewer issue. Adobe Reader, Skim and Preview all pick up the first column, as you would expect. I can only reproduce the issue with old versions of Evince and Okular. I don't have a recent version of either of these viewers, but @Christian Hupfer and @gpoo have tested more up to date versions of Okular and Evince and found that they both work. For other reasons, I have long since concluded that Evince should never be used. I haven't seen software that crashes so often since Windows 95.

  • 1
    @thb: Well -- 0.20.2. is newer than 0.9.4 -- the conclusion should be rather that it should work with 0.20.2, but apparently, this not the case! – user31729 Feb 15 '16 at 16:54
  • 3
    I have filed a bug report against evince: [bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=762096]. – thb Feb 15 '16 at 17:27
  • 4
    The answer is misleading as it ignores the fact that both Evince and Okular uses the Poppler library to render PDF. If there is any bug on this, it is in Poppler.That said, both documents works fine with Evince 3.18 and Poppler 0.39. – gpoo Feb 15 '16 at 19:18
  • 1
    It does. The selection text is handled by Poppler, as Evince and Okular passes the coordinates and Poppler give the selected text back. The very reason that old versions of both fail and newer versions of both work. As a matter of fact, you can try poppler-glib-demo in different versions to check it by yourself. – gpoo Feb 16 '16 at 8:36
  • 2
    @IanThompson Your two last sentences are very aggressive and subjective... – Paul Gaborit Feb 16 '16 at 12:17

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