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This is my first post. Please be gentle....

Objective: a book-length document that has 300+ sections, ranging from a couple of sentences to many paragraphs, or possibly pages. The section title will be a single column across the page, and the section text will be two-column. The text baselines will be even, let's say 12 points apart (no extra spacing between lines), and the baselines of the left column will continue across the gutter to be the baselines of the right column. No math, tables, or other floats, so I don't have to worry about that.

One more thing: they will be sort-of balanced, which is to say that if there are 10 lines in the left column, there will be either 9 or 10 lines in the right column, depending on the length of the text. And if there are only 9 lines, there will be blank space at the bottom of the right column where the 10th line would have been.

To me this is a much more elegant solution than balancing the two columns by adding arbitrary (and ugly) interline spacing in one column, but getting this output seems to be the real stumbling block.

I have tried multicol and ltxgrid and several other approaches as suggested here and elsewhere, but then I've never seen my exact question addressed.

There is probably a typographic term for what I'm looking for, and maybe if I knew what the term is, I could search better.

I'm pretty inexperienced in (La)TeX, but right now I'm very frustrated. I thought the whole purpose was that this is a transparent tool that would allow me to just write, while it took care of the formatting. That's not what I'm experiencing, unfortunately.

Thank you.

  • Welcome to TeX.SE. Your description of the document setup (and of some of your frustrations...) is fairly detailed. However, in terms of good communication about LaTeX-related matters, nothing beats having actual code to look at. E.g., which document class do you use? How are the sectioning titles defined? With which options do you load multicol? Is \raggedbottom or \flushbottom in effect? And so one... – Mico Nov 30 '16 at 22:13
  • It seems that multicol does exactly what you describe. Could you be a bit more specific about why it does not meet you needs? – Eric Domenjoud Dec 1 '16 at 0:01
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Using the multicol package, you get what you want. You just have to set \parskip=0pt and to return to one column layout for each section heading.

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{multicol}
\usepackage{lipsum}

\parskip=0pt

\begin{document}

\section{section 1}

\begin{multicols}{2}
\lipsum[1]
\end{multicols}

\section{Section 2}

\begin{multicols}{2}
\lipsum[2]
\end{multicols}

\section{Section 3}

\begin{multicols}{2}
\lipsum[3]
\end{multicols}

\end{document}

enter image description here

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Perhaps the 2nd answer in this question will help in getting the section header across the columns and controlling column breaks

How to make a section header span the whole page in a twocolumn document

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