For some time I've been working on editing a conference proceedings, putting the different chapters together. I'm working on two different systems, which run slightly different versions of pdflatex. In order to increase readability, the publisher ask to make sure to have always at least 3 lines of each paragraph at the beginning or ending of a page (they call situations where this is not the case 'widows' and 'orphans' - I'm not sure whether this is a well known term)

In order to achieve this, I perform some tweaking with \enlargethispage{} and the occasional \clearpage. So then things look perfect on one system, I switch to the other system, where pdflatex decides differently on where to put page turns and all the tweaking doesn't work anymore - in the worst case you get pages with just one line :P

I don't have a clear example or anything, so I don't expect a definite answer. I'm perfectly capable (I think) to do some further googling or some further investigation into the system - I just would like to have some ideas on where to go next:

  • First of all: can such differences in the way page breaks are inserted indeed be caused by different pdflatex versions only? (libpoppler 3.141592-1.40.3-2.2 vs 3.141592-1.xxx - I don't have access to the latter system currently, it's the pdflatex that runs on Ubuntu 12.04; it's a newer one than the former)
  • if yes, are there ways to force pdflatex into some kind of compatibility modus in order to get the same results across both systems?
  • if no, where should I start looking further into this? Should I look at the packages I load, or maybe something outside the pdflatex suite altogether?

Thanks in advance for reading through this and formulating some thoughts about it.

  • 7
    It's far more likely to be be an issue with the packages your are loading than with the binary, certainly in terms of the page breaking routine. You should first try to cut your issue down to a minimum, then use \listfiles to see what is being loaded in each case. Then we can try to help. Normally, if you want identical results you are best making sure you have exactly the same packages on all systems involved. We can advise on that once you've worked out what the real culprit is. – Joseph Wright Sep 6 '12 at 7:40
  • Thanks for looking into my long question. You confirm what I already feared. For me I really don't have the time to try and figure out where the culprit is; I'll just have to make sure to do the final fine-tuning always on the same system. – Jakob van Bethlehem Sep 12 '12 at 8:25

I doubt that the problems come from different versions of pdfTeX; it's far more likely that you have different versions of packages or fonts. Try to produce a minimal file that exhibits the problem and make sure that packages and fonts on both systems are the same.

But even if you would then file a bug against pdfTeX, the most likely answer will be: Update.

Or save yourself the trouble and update all systems to TeXLive 2012.

See also Avoiding page breaks shortly after section/subsection headings

  • Thanks for taking the trouble to look into this question. Unfortunately I'm not administrator on one of the systems, so there is no way to update to TexLive 2012. Like Joseph above you confirm my fear that differences are almost certainly due to packages. Good to know for certain, but given my time constraints and complexity of the document, with many packages loaded indirectly through the publishers own document class, I won't be able to figure out a minimal example - unfortunately I'll have to just live with it. – Jakob van Bethlehem Sep 12 '12 at 8:33

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