I am seeking advice (any ideas) how to typeset a bilingual dictionary that will contain many pictures. The picture below shows the dictionary.


  1. The lines in columns differ.
  2. The spaces around pictures differ.
  3. I guess it would be better if the headword remained with the picture (then more space will come)

I understand that because of the picture the lines are stretched and the space as well. I am looking for general ideas.

Dictionary containing pictures

  • Really nice! I suggest to not center the images! Align them with the text. Same for the captions. Maybe it would look even nicer if the width of the pics would be the width of a column. – schmendrich May 30 '12 at 7:18
  • For me it looks good as is. Scaling the images to line width can cost many space (have a look at the first image, it would be a 1.5 times higher, if scaled). The promblem with the different spaces is caused, as you said, by stretching the columns to equal bottoms, but ragged bottoms will look worse that the differing image spaces. – Tobi May 30 '12 at 7:48
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    If you like to make your code public pleas consider showing it in Showcase of beautiful typography done in TeX & friends. – Tobi May 30 '12 at 7:51
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    Thank you for ideas. I will certainly make my code public and leave a note in Showcase of beautiful typography when it's ready and polished. – chejnik May 30 '12 at 8:42
  • One idea worth thinking of is to set all pictures to same width and height; different width and height can be disturbing. – chejnik May 30 '12 at 15:22

It's a job very well done and I think it looks great.

One suggestion that can perhaps improve the looks, is to have the portrait images with large aspect ratios have their description on the side. This is common in catalogues with a lot of images such as the Scott Catalogue for stamps shown below.

enter image description here

Perhaps the catalogue is not a very good example, but Scott managed to squeeze probably about 30,000 images in about 900 pages. Probably your dictionary's images will grow in number give it a thought now (and have a look at similar books to yours in a library) for ideas.

If you are going to print it, especially self-publishing at a place like Lulu.com choose the right book size early and make estimates of costs, pages and decide on page margins.

On the technical side textdoc revtex ltxgrid for some improvements in layout and floats in two column grids.

  • Thank you for ideas Yiannis. New idea is to choose bigger book size, that would probably lessen the problems with spaces and lessen number of pages from around 1100 to ?800. I never heard about Lulu.com, my idea is to print it in a small printhouse in two examples and publish online with instructions how to print it in printhouse. – chejnik May 31 '12 at 7:36
  • @chejnik Sounds good. Let us know when you do put it online. – Yiannis Lazarides May 31 '12 at 19:53

I used some ideas that have been posted, namely to change papersize to B5 using 8pt font and 2-up two B5 pages to one B4 page with Multivalent. The bigger papersize seems to suit well to headword list. I post here three examples - one with 6cm width of pictures

B5 6cm picture width centered

and the second with 4cm width of pictures.

B5 4cm picture width centered

and the third with landscape pictures width=\columnwidth and portrait pictures height=\columnwidth

B5 picture with columnwidth

I would appreciate further comments and advices to improve the final layout. Notice: All landscape pictures will be resized to one ration and portrait pictures as well. Thank you

  • I think the wider pictures look better in this layout --- which looks really nice, by the way. – jon Jun 1 '12 at 7:19
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    I also prefer the \columnwidth pictures. Smaller pictures break the alignment by adding vertical lines in places where you don't want or need them. By the way, how do you manage vertical alignment (i.e. the fact that all columns end in the same place, even when there are pictures)? – ienissei Jun 1 '12 at 9:03
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    @chejnik: Yes. Changing the book size was a good idea. Also to columnwidth the pictures. What do you think about placing the captions of portrait pictures beside the pictures instead under the pictures? Would like to see the code. – schmendrich Jun 1 '12 at 9:17
  • It is worth trying placing the caption of potrait pictures beside it. Where exactly do you suggest the placement? I can try to submit example. Should I post the code as a new answer or edit this answer? @ienissei: Actually it is coincidence that all pictures are vertically aligned and there is no extra vertical space. So the bigger pictures will add more vertical space if the picture will appear at the end of the column. – chejnik Jun 1 '12 at 9:48
  • I suggest, to align the portrait pictures left and the caption on the right side aligned to the bottom of the pic. I would like to upvote your code as a new answer ;) – schmendrich Jun 1 '12 at 10:42

Using figures give best result so far. Lines and spaces around pictures do not differ.

\setlength\fboxsep{0pt}\setlength\fboxrule{0.5pt}   \fbox{\includegraphics[width=7.2cm]{the_picture.jpg}}
\caption{The name of the picture}

To display only the names of the pictures (without Figure 1.:) use


To control the amount of pictures on the page use

% float control
\renewcommand{\topfraction}{0.9}    % max fraction of floats at top
\renewcommand{\bottomfraction}{0.8} % max fraction of floats at bottom
%   Parameters for TEXT pages (not float pages):
\setcounter{totalnumber}{2}     % 2 may work better
\setcounter{dbltopnumber}{2}    % for 2-column pages
\renewcommand{\dbltopfraction}{0.9} % fit big float above 2-col. text
\renewcommand{\textfraction}{0.07}  % allow minimal text w. figs
%   Parameters for FLOAT pages (not text pages):
\renewcommand{\floatpagefraction}{0.7}  % require fuller float pages
% N.B.: floatpagefraction MUST be less than topfraction !!
\renewcommand{\dblfloatpagefraction}{0.7}   % require fuller float pages
% remember to use [htp] or [htpb] for placement

Here comes two examples. First illustrates placing of the picture directly at the position and the second one placing the pictures at the top (because there was no space to place it at position).

Placing at position

Placing at top

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