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I've written two novels so far using LaTeX, however I've had to take great pains to use flushbottom to produce even line/paragraph spacing (I had an obsession with getting the lines on opposing pages to line through). This has often meant I needed to change wording to prevent widows from causing gaps at the bottom of the page. I feel the need not to do this in future, as it seems stupid to sacrifice content just to fulfil layout, and most professionally published novels in fact allow their line spacing to change to eliminate widows. I normally have parskip and parsep set to zero, so the spacing is even (using flushbottom and then tweaking, as above) but if I remove the parskip and parsep settings, the document will eliminate the space, but the distance between paragraphs is different to the distance between lines.

How do I use flushbottom for this automatic spacing increase such that the distance between paragraphs and lines is the same? It's too jarring to have the space between paragraphs different to the space between lines, especially when novels are formatted with first line indentation.

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  • it is of course much easier to have even spacing with raggedbottom, if you use flushbottom then you have to ensure that everything inserted on the page is an exact multiple of \normalbaselineskip otherwise you are setting impossible constraints that can not be achieved. Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 10:42
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    but set \setlength\parskip{0pt} will stop the inter paragraph space ever stretching Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 10:42
  • I'd hoped flushbottom would allow the lines to 'spread out' to fill the page (to a certain degree), which it does, but only by increasing the inter-paragraph spacing, which makes paragraphs stand out, so I'm trying to find out whether all of the spacing can spread out evenly so there aren't different gaps between paragraphs and lines. I don't mind removing the parskip setting as long as everything ends up the same spacing.
    – user145107
    Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 10:44
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    you can adjust the word spacing to avoid widows (using \looseness) and the widows-and-orphans package will alert you where that is necessary. Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 10:45
  • I'll take a look at that as an option - at the moment, the only setting I have in relation to widows and orphans is \setnoclub[1] \setnowidow[2]
    – user145107
    Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 10:46

2 Answers 2

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If you look carefully through well-published non-technical (text only) books, you will probably find occasional facing pages that are both one line longer or shorter than the preceding or following pair of pages. This is a traditional technique used by compositors to maintain visually grid-locked pages of the same length. (It's easiest to spot such pages in books printed on non-opaque paper.)

Implementing this must be done as the very last thing, starting at the beginning and testing often. The coding is \enlargethispage{<number>\baselinekip}, where the number is 1 to add a line, and -1 to shorten by a line, and this must be added on facing pages. The most reliable place to add it is at a paragraph break before a paragraph that is certain to appear on that page. Test often.

Before doing this, it's worth trying to compress longish paragraphs with short last lines with \looseness=-1 tacked onto the end of the paragraph or to expand paragraphs that are set tight or have long last lines by inserting \looseness=1 at the end of the paragraph, as suggested in a comment by David Carlisle. This may be done either on the page to be changed or up to several pages earlier, as long as it doesn't affect any pages in between. Again, this usually requires several reruns, starting at the beginning.

By "beginning" is meant separately for any chapter or similar chunk that starts on a new page. Be careful that your changes don't cause the text to expand to an extra right-hand page, which would result in the insertion of an extra blank page between chapters, and an increase of two pages in the total.

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  • Thanks for the detailed explanation, Barbara. I'll possibly look into that for my next book if it worries me enough. I think one of the ideas I have it may not be worth the effort of checking (or even be controllable), since it's going to have randomly ordered sections that would be difficult to typeset, but thanks for the response! I suspect others may also find it helpful.
    – user145107
    Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 15:29
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With thanks to David Carlisle's comments, the closest I've achieved to what I want has been to use:

\baselineskip=1\baselineskip plus 1pt

Given most of my pages are almost entirely full except for the odd blank line at the bottom, this gives decent results without appreciable differences in paragraph to line spacing.

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