I have a two-column article with many figures, which work out to a little less than 1 figure per column over all pages. In the text, some of the figures are mentioned in bunches, so that a naive placement ends up having pages with any number of figures in each column.

Is it possible to constrain the layout such that at most one figure is allowed at the top of each column?

I do not care where a given figure ends up being placed.

I am currently distributing the figures by hand, but that is very fragile. In fact, I already need to maintain two placement schemes for slightly different typesetting.

I cannot put two figures each in a full-width minipage, since graphics and captions can have ungainly differences in height.

  • Please add a minimal working example to your question so users can reproduce your problem. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 13:19
  • 2
    \setcounter{topnum}{1} Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 13:26
  • @DavidCarlisle Perfect, thank you. The combination of \setcounter{topnumber}{1}, \setcounter{bottomnumber}{0}, and \setcounter{totalnumber}{1} has fixed my problem right away. I get some warnings that floats are stuck, but I cannot see any negative effect from that. Care to write up an answer so I can accept it?
    – ntessore
    Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 13:42
  • Or just use \begin{figure}[t]. BTW, totalnumber has more to do with [h] floats. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


If you set


Only one float will appear at the top of a column.

You can set the other values to 0 such as


or set \def\fps@figure{t}so only top floats are considered for \begin{figure} unless other areas added by the optional argument such as [p]

  • Thanks to this answer, I found this great other answer, which also points out dbltopnumber among other useful things.
    – ntessore
    Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 13:57
  • 1
    oh yes Frank's opus, but referencing that is more like "read the manual" than answering a specific question (source2e.pdf also has this information in principle of course) Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 14:00

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