I'm still new to (La)TeX, so I don't know if this is a good, or even a right, question to ask.

Anyways, when I use default classes, the layout always looks something like the one on the left (image). Is it possible to add more boxes and remove existing ones (maybe the header and footer) and make a crazy layout like the one on the right? Basically, how do I acquire ABSOLUTE control over the layout?

Where is this default layout defined? I imagine, I could learn a lot by studying the code.

Probably gonna be a lot of work. Fortunately I got nothing but time these days.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Some of what you ask can be controlled by settings and commands. Depends on your document class. I'll let others answer that. meanwhile: Your "crazy layout" is inadvisable in TeX. You can do that on a per-page basis, since you can put nearly anything anywhere. But if you intend to have flowing text automatically continue from one box to another, then use a page layout program (such as Scribus) instead. In other words, use the right tool for the job.
    – user139954
    Apr 16, 2018 at 17:53
  • Alternatively, take a look at SILE (sile-typesetter.org). It might still be a bit buggy, but it is designed to be able to handle such layouts. (And it takes a lot of inspiration from TeX.)
    – jmc
    Apr 16, 2018 at 18:20

2 Answers 2


Your question is a bit vague as to the requirements.

If the intention is for a single page layout (eg for a poster presentation) then more or less any shaped box can fairly easily be placed at any location, so the layout that you show is not that difficult.

However at the primitive level TeX only has one document flow, so if your requirement is for multiple independent document flows flowing from boxes of those shapes to similarly specified boxes on other pages then things are considerably more difficult.

There are packages that handle two document flows (typically for parallel bi-lingual texts) and some packages (like flowfram) implement with various restrictions multiple flows but it gets progressively harder the more requirements that you make. One fundamental difficulty is that tex line and page breaking are not connected so that you can not (without some difficulty) change the line width at an automatic page break, so of you want to allow your text to automatically flow out of the tall narrow box on the left, then it needs to flow into a box of the same width.


As David explained, flowfram could do that, even for non-rectangular frames but may be a big disadvantage for automatic processing of large texts as text cannot flow from a frame to another of different width in the same paragraph. For small documents (wall ads, posters, etc.) manual fixing of that flow is annoying but not big problem, though.

However, said that, probably flowfram is not the right tool for a LaTeX novice, when you are really looking for an desktop publishing (DTP) software. With Scribus you can make more easily a complex layout, including no rectangular frames. It is worth to note that the content of Scribus frames could be LaTeX code.

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