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I have two minipages next to each other, the first one containing text that describes an equation, and the second one containing the actual equation. I want to align the text vertically so that the first line of text uses the same baseline as the equation.

This is what I've got so far, but as you can see, not really right. The small spacing error annoys me and I feel like I don't understand how it works with the vertical spacing.

\documentclass[a4paper, 11pt, fleqn]{article}

\usepackage{autobreak}
\usepackage[left=15mm,right=15mm]{geometry}
\usepackage{etoolbox}

\newcommand{\zerodisplayskips}{%
  \setlength{\abovedisplayskip}{0pt}%
  \setlength{\belowdisplayskip}{0pt}%
  \setlength{\abovedisplayshortskip}{0pt}%
  \setlength{\belowdisplayshortskip}{0pt}}
\appto{\normalsize}{\zerodisplayskips} % To omit vertical spacing in the align-environment

\newlength{\equationheight}
\setlength{\mathindent}{0pt}
\newcommand{\textWidth}{.17\linewidth}
\newcommand{\eqnWidth}{.81\linewidth}


\begin{document}

    \paragraph{Long-Term Load}\mbox{}\\[-1.4ex]
    \settoheight{\equationheight}{$\alpha_{\mathrm{long}}=\alpha(1+\varphi_{\mathrm{creep}})$}
    \addtolength{\equationheight}{-1ex}
    \begin{minipage}[t]{\textWidth}
        \vspace{0ex} \vspace{\equationheight} Stiffness Ratio, Long-term \raggedright
    \end{minipage}
    \hfill
    \begin{minipage}[t]{\eqnWidth}
        \begin{align*}
            \begin{autobreak}
                \alpha_{\mathrm{long}}=\alpha(1+\varphi_{\mathrm{creep}})=6.06(1+0)=6.06
            \end{autobreak}
        \end{align*}
    \end{minipage}\\[0.5ex]
    %
    \settoheight{\equationheight}{$\dfrac{\dfrac{b\,h^2}{2} + (\alpha_{\mathrm{long}}-1)A_{\mathrm{s}} \, d}{A_{\mathrm{I,long}}}$}
    \addtolength{\equationheight}{-1ex}
    \begin{minipage}[t]{\textWidth}
        \vspace{0ex} \vspace{\equationheight} Distance to C.o.G \raggedright
    \end{minipage}
    \hfill
    \begin{minipage}[t]{\eqnWidth}
        \begin{align*}
            \begin{autobreak}
                x_{\mathrm{I,long}}
                    =\dfrac{\dfrac{b\,h^2}{2} + (\alpha_{\mathrm{long}}-1)A_{\mathrm{s}} \, d}{A_{\mathrm{I,long}}}
                    =\dfrac{\dfrac{300\cdot600^2}{2} + (6.06-1)679 \cdot 564}{183434}
                    =304.9\text{ mm}
            \end{autobreak}
        \end{align*}
    \end{minipage}\\[0.5ex]
    %
    \settoheight{\equationheight}{$\dfrac{b \, h^3}{12} + b \, h (\dfrac{h}{2}-x_{\mathrm{I,long}})^2 + (\alpha_{\mathrm{long}}-1) A_{\mathrm{s}} \, (d-x_{\mathrm{I,long}})^2$}
    \addtolength{\equationheight}{-1ex}
    \begin{minipage}[t]{\textWidth}
        \vspace{0ex} \vspace{\equationheight} Second Moment of Area \raggedright
    \end{minipage}
    \hfill
    \begin{minipage}[t]{\eqnWidth}
        \begin{align*}
            \begin{autobreak}
                I_{\mathrm{I,long}}
                    =\dfrac{b \, h^3}{12} + b \, h (\dfrac{h}{2}-x_{\mathrm{I,long}})^2 + (\alpha_{\mathrm{long}}-1) A_{\mathrm{s}} \, (d-x_{\mathrm{I,long}})^2
                    =\dfrac{300\cdot600^3}{12} + 300\cdot600 (\dfrac{600}{2}-304.9)^2 + (6.06-1) 679 (564-304.9)^2
                    =5.63\cdot10^9 mm^4
            \end{autobreak}
        \end{align*}
    \end{minipage}\\[0.5ex]

\end{document}

Output: output

Can anyone here help me understand what I'm missing? I thought that

\settoheight{\equationheight}{...<equation>...}
...
\vspace{\equationheight} <text>

would be sufficient to get the same baseline for the text and the equation.

PS. The align* and autobreak environments are always there because I do not have full control over the input, and occasionally the equations are too long to fit a single line.

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My solution is based on TeX primitives and plain TeX macros only. The basic idea is that each \eqline includes \hbox with two \vtops, because you need to have first lines aligned. First \vtop includes settings of \hsize and \raggedright. Second \vtop includes \halign with two columns declared as \displaystyle for left and right sides of equations. More lines in an equation must be separated by \cr.

\def\eqlin#1#2{\medskip\hbox{\vtop{\hfuzz=2pt \hsize=.17\hsize \raggedright \noindent#1}%
   \kern.02\hsize
   \vtop{\halign{\hfil$\displaystyle##$&$\displaystyle{}##$\hfil\cr#2\crcr}}}}

\eqlin{Stiffness Ratio, Long-term}
  {\alpha_{\rm long} &= \alpha(1+\varphi_{\rm creep}) = 6.06(1+0) = 6.06}

\eqlin{Distance to C.o.G}
  {x_{\rm I,long} &= {\displaystyle {b\,h^2\over2} + (\alpha_{\rm long} - 1) A_{\rm s} d \over A_{\rm I,long}} 
                   = {\displaystyle {300\cdot600^2\over2} + (6.06-1)\,697\cdot564 \over 183434} = 304.9\,\rm mm
  }

\eqlin{Second Moment of Area}
  {I_{\rm I,long} &= {b\,h^3\over12} + b\,h \left({h\over2}-x_{\rm I,long}\right)^2 
                    + (\alpha_{\rm long} - 1)\, A_{\rm s}\, (d-x_{\rm I,long}) \cr
                  &= {300\cdot600^3\over12} + 300\cdot600\,\left({600\over2} - 304.9\right)^2
                    + (6.06 - 1)\,679\,(564-304.9)^2 \cr
                  &= 5.63\cdot 10^9 \rm mm^4
  }

\bye

EDIT OK, due to your comment: there is second solution, which implements a simple "autobreak" feature: first equal sign behaves like &= and other equal sign behaves like \penalty0{}= and this is a possible break point. Moreover, equal signs are aligned in all equations.

\def\adef#1{\catcode`#1=13 \begingroup \lccode`\~=`#1\lowercase{\endgroup\def~}}
\def\eqA{&=}
\def\eqlin{\bgroup\let\tmp=\relax \adef={\ifx\tmp\relax\expandafter\eqA\else\penalty0{}=\fi}\eqlinA}
\def\eqlinA#1#2{\medskip\hbox to\hsize{\vtop{\hfuzz=2pt \hsize=.17\hsize \raggedright \noindent#1}%
   \hfil
   \vtop{\halign{\hfil$\displaystyle##$&\vtop{\hsize=.74\hsize
                 \rightskip=0pt plus1fil\noindent\binoppenalty=10000 \let\tmp=\empty 
                 $\displaystyle{}##$}\hfil\cr#2\crcr}}}\egroup}

\eqlin{Stiffness Ratio, Long-term}
  {\alpha_{\rm long} = \alpha(1+\varphi_{\rm creep}) = 6.06(1+0) = 6.06}

\eqlin{Distance to C.o.G}
  {x_{\rm I,long}  = {\displaystyle {b\,h^2\over2} + (\alpha_{\rm long} - 1) A_{\rm s} d \over A_{\rm I,long}} 
                   = {\displaystyle {300\cdot600^2\over2} + (6.06-1)\,697\cdot564 \over 183434}
                   = 304.9\,\rm mm
  }

\eqlin{Second Moment of Area}
  {I_{\rm I,long}  = {b\,h^3\over12} + b\,h \left({h\over2}-x_{\rm I,long}\right)^2 
                    + (\alpha_{\rm long} - 1)\, A_{\rm s}\, (d-x_{\rm I,long})
                   = {300\cdot600^3\over12} + 300\cdot600\,\left({600\over2} - 304.9\right)^2
                    + (6.06 - 1)\,679\,(564-304.9)^2 
                   = 5.63\cdot 10^9 \rm mm^4
  }

\bye
  • Thanks for your suggestion! It is really nice. I have one problem that prevents me from switching to this solution though: I am automating documents, and occasionally the equation will be too long to fit in a single line (like I_{I,long} in the example). Therefore, I need to specify possible breaking points, but only line-break when necessary. For example, in some cases the x_{I,long} equation will fit in a single line and in some cases it needs two lines. That's what I used the autobreak-package for. Is it possible to incorporate this functionality in your solution somehow? – samirem Jul 17 '17 at 11:26
  • @samirem OK, I prepared second solution. – wipet Jul 17 '17 at 12:24
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I propose a much simpler solution, without autobreak. I added siunitx for a better formatting of numbers with units, and vertically aligned all = signs:

\documentclass[a4paper, 11pt, fleqn]{article}

\usepackage{autobreak}
\usepackage[hmargin=15mm, showframe]{geometry}
\usepackage{etoolbox}
\newcommand{\zerodisplayskips}{%
  \setlength{\abovedisplayskip}{0pt}%
  \setlength{\belowdisplayskip}{0pt}%
  \setlength{\abovedisplayshortskip}{0pt}%
  \setlength{\belowdisplayshortskip}{0pt}}
\appto{\normalsize}{\zerodisplayskips} % To omit vertical spacing in the align-environment
\setlength{\mathindent}{0pt}

\usepackage{siunitx}
\sisetup{exponent-product =\cdot}

\newcommand\descrbox[1]{\parbox[t]{0.2\linewidth}{\raggedright#1}}

\begin{document}

\paragraph{Long-Term Load}\mbox{}\\[-1.4ex]
\begin{align*}
 & \descrbox{Stiffness Ratio, Long-term\raggedright} & \alpha_{\mkern1mu\mathrm{long}} & =\alpha(1+\varphi_{\mathrm{creep}})=6.06(1+0)=6.06 \\
 & \descrbox{Distance to C.o.G}& x_{\mkern1mu\mathrm{I,long}}
                     &=\dfrac{\dfrac{b\,h^2}{2} + (\alpha_{\mathrm{long}}-1)A_{\mathrm{s}} \, d}{A_{\mathrm{I,long}}}
                    =\dfrac{\dfrac{300\cdot600^2}{2} + (6.06-1)679 \cdot 564}{183434} = \SI{304.9}{mm}\\[1.5ex]
 & \descrbox{Second Moment of Area}
                &I_{\mathrm{I,long}}
                  & =\dfrac{b \, h^3}{12} + b \, h \Bigl(\dfrac{h}{2}-x_{\mathrm{I,long}}\Bigr)^2 + (\alpha_{\mathrm{long}}-1) A_{\mathrm{s}} \, (d-x_{\mathrm{I,long}})^2 \\
 & & & =\dfrac{300\cdot600^3}{12} + 300\cdot600\Bigl(\dfrac{600}{2}-304.9\Bigr)^2 + (6.06-1) 679 (564-304.9)^2 \\
   & & & =\SI{5.63e9}{mm^4}
\end{align*}

\end{document} 

enter image description here

  • Thanks, your solution looks very nice. However I need the functionality of autobreak (as explained in my comment to this answer). Is it possible to incorporate in to your solution? I tried a bit but failed so far. – samirem Jul 17 '17 at 12:28
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Are use of minipages must be? Without it (in hope that I correct understand question) I obtain the following result:

enter image description here

If instead minipages is used tabularx the code become far more simple (and by this concise):

\documentclass[a4paper, 11pt, fleqn]{article}
\usepackage[showframe,
            left=15mm,right=15mm]{geometry}
\usepackage{amsmath}

\usepackage{booktabs,tabularx}
\usepackage[exponent-product=\cdot]{siunitx}



\begin{document}
    \paragraph{Long-Term Load}\mbox{}\\%[-1.4ex]

\noindent%
    \begin{tabularx}{\linewidth}{@{}>{\raggedright}X>{$\displaystyle}l<{$}}
Stiffness Ratio, Long-term
    &   \alpha_{\mathrm{long}}
            = \alpha(1+\varphi_{\mathrm{creep}})
            = 6.06(1+0)
            = 6.06
            \\  \addlinespace[1ex]
Distance to C.o.G 
    &   x_{\mathrm{I,long}}
        = \dfrac{\dfrac{b\,h^2}{2} + (\alpha_{\mathrm{long}}-1)A_{\mathrm{s}}\, d}
                {A_{\mathrm{I,long}}}
        = \dfrac{\dfrac{300\cdot600^2}{2} + (6.06-1)679 \cdot 564}{183434}  %\\
        = \SI{304.9}{mm}
            \\  \addlinespace[3ex]
Second Moment of Area 
    &   \begin{aligned}[t]
        I_{\mathrm{I,long}}
            & = \dfrac{b \, h^3}{12} + b \, h (\dfrac{h}{2}-x_{\mathrm{I,long}})^2 +
                (\alpha_{\mathrm{long}}-1) A_{\mathrm{s}} \, (d-x_{\mathrm{I,long}})^2  \\
            & = \dfrac{300\cdot600^3}{12} + 300\cdot600 (\dfrac{600}{2}-304.9)^2 +
                (6.06-1) 679 (564-304.9)^2  
                \\
            & = \SI{5.6e9}{mm^4}
        \end{aligned}
    \end{tabularx}

\end{document}
  • You understood the question correctly, and I think you have a creative solution to the problem. But I need the functionality of autobreak, and cannot specify line breaks "manually". However, I did not manage to put an autobreak-environment in the tabularx-environment.. do you have any suggestion how this can be solved? – samirem Jul 17 '17 at 12:31
  • autobreak is not so smart as you are :-), so better is manualy break equation (if necessary). With this is less work than measured part of equation width and after then employ it. with manuals breaking you will also use different math environments like multlined, etc. shortly, i haven't other suggestion. – Zarko Jul 17 '17 at 13:24

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