61

I have a document containing a table which is slightly too wide for the page. But instead of growing to the right side only, I would like to have it centered on the page.

I have tried to use the center environment but this doesn't seem to help.

  • 4
    Have a look at Center flow chart horizontally, the answer works also for too wide tables, perhaps also have a look at Centering wide tables or figures. Similar solution here: How to center the minipage. – Stefan Kottwitz Dec 27 '11 at 16:30
  • Please compose a compilable MWE that illustrates the problem including the \documentclass and the appropriate packages so that those trying to help don't have to recreate it. – Peter Grill Dec 27 '11 at 16:30
  • 1
    @PeterGrill: I don't think a MWE is really necessary here. It's kind of a common, easily understandable issue. – Martin Scharrer Dec 27 '11 at 16:45
  • @martin Sure, but knowing, say, the class, help know which tools are readily available. – daleif Dec 27 '11 at 17:34
  • 1
    Wouldn't it be best to find the reason why the table is too wide, and solve that? – DevSolar Mar 22 '12 at 12:02
57

If a table (or any other horizontal box) is wider than the text (\textwidth) an overfull hbox warning is given and the content is placed anyway, which makes it run into the right margin. To avoid this and to suppress the error the content must be placed in a box with is equal or smaller than \textwidth. The \makebox macro with its two optional argument for the width and horizontal alignment can be used for this: \makebox[\textwidth][c]{<table>} will center the content. See Center figure that is wider than \textwidth and Place figures side by side, spill into outer margin were this is used for figures and further explained.

For more complicated tables, especially if they should contain verbatim material, you should use a different approach. \makebox reads the whole content as macro argument which does not allow verbatim content and is not very efficient (ok, nowadays the latter isn't really important any longer). The \Makebox macro or the Makebox environment from the realboxes can be used as an replacement. It reads the content as a box. Better would be the adjustbox macro or environment from the adjustbox package together with the center key.

\begin{adjustbox}{center}
<your table (i.e. the tabular or similar environment)>
\end{adjustbox}

Which centers the content to \linewidth (mostly identical to \textwidth) by default but also takes any other length as an optional value, e.g. center=10cm. Note that <your table> should be a tabular or equivalent environment, not a table environment.


You can now also use the tabular key of adjustbox (as first key!) to save the extra \begin{tabular} .. \end{tabular} which is then added internally.

\begin{adjustbox}{tabular=lll,center}
     a & b & c \\
     a & b & c \\
     a & b & c \\
\end{adjustbox}
  • Thank you very much for the detailed explanation. Why not use \centerline{} as suggested in another answer? Are you aware of any drawbacks? – Dejan Dec 28 '11 at 5:51
  • 3
    @Dejan: \centerline reads the content as a macro argument as well and is basically the same as \makebox[\hsize][c], using more lower-level TeX commands than LaTeX ones. It will work, but \makebox or \adjustbox is more flexible. – Martin Scharrer Dec 28 '11 at 8:52
  • 2
    I don't know how to get this solution to work. I use adjustbox but it throwing error. Not in outer par mode It refers to my \begin{table}[] code – Whitecat Nov 17 '15 at 17:36
  • 15
    I found out the problem is \begin{adjustbox}{center} should go just before \begin{tabular}{ll|l} not \begin{table}[] The answer should be adjusted, as it is not clear what <your table> means. – Whitecat Nov 17 '15 at 17:42
  • 1
    @Whitecat: The confusion about table and tabular is widespread under beginners. The table is the floating container which also provides the possibility of a caption and the tabular is for creating the actual table, which can also be used outside table as long you don't need a caption. I changed my answer to make this more clear. – Martin Scharrer Jan 17 at 16:39
16

Put your table into \centerline{}. The table will extend evenly into both margins if it's wider than \textwidth.

  • 1
    This works great as long as there is no new lines between centerline and the table. – fotanus Aug 7 '15 at 15:44
6

I’ve seen that an answer based on the use of \centerline has been considered; I then thought that even the following crude hack, that I sometimes employ as a quick one-shot cure for similar situations, could be worth mentioning:

% My standard header for TeX.SX answers:
\documentclass[a4paper]{article} % To avoid confusion, let us explicitly 
                                 % declare the paper format.

\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}         % Not always necessary, but recommended.
% End of standard header.  What follows pertains to the problem at hand.

\usepackage{mwe} % facilitates the writing of Minimale Working Examples like 
                 % this one, not to be used in actual documents



\begin{document}

\lipsum[1]
\begin{center}
    \addtolength{\leftskip} {-2cm} % increase (absolute) value if needed
    \addtolength{\rightskip}{-2cm}
    \begin{tabular*}{1.2\textwidth}{@{\extracolsep{\fill}}|ccc|}
        \hline
        Does & this & table  \\
        really & need & to  \\
        be & so & wide?  \\
        \hline
    \end{tabular*}
\end{center}

It works with floating objects, too: see, for example, figure~\ref{fig:a} and
table~\ref{tab:b}.

\begin{figure}[tbp]
    \centering
    \addtolength{\leftskip} {-2cm}
    \addtolength{\rightskip}{-2cm}
    \includegraphics[width=1.2\textwidth,height=5cm]{image}
    \caption{A example image}
    \label{fig:a}
\end{figure}

\begin{table}[bp]
    \centering
    \addtolength{\leftskip} {-2cm}
    \addtolength{\rightskip}{-2cm}
    \begin{tabular*}{1.2\textwidth}{@{\extracolsep{\fill}}|ccc|}
        \hline
        And & what & about  \\
        this & one, & eh?  \\
        \hline
    \end{tabular*}
    \caption{An example table}
    \label{tab:b}
\end{table}

\lipsum[2]

\end{document}

This is the output:

Output of the above code

  • \addtolength{\leftskip}{-2cm} and \addtolength{\rightskip}{-2cm} seems a cleaner solution to me. – mmj Jun 15 '18 at 7:15
  • @mmj: I’m afraid I don’t understand: didn’t I do exactly that? – GuM Jun 15 '18 at 8:22
  • Maybe I wasn't clear enough, I should have written explicitly "your solution \addtolength... seems cleaner than the others", although it is much less voted. – mmj Jun 16 '18 at 19:59
  • @mmj: Oh, now I see what you meant! Indeed, it has been a little silly of me not to understand it in the first place! And—well—thanks for your appreciation… – GuM Jun 16 '18 at 23:15

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