Using The Float Package To Lock Figures In Latex

Positioning Figures in LaTeX

LaTeX, as a typesetting system aimed at producing high-quality texts, handles figure positioning automatically by default. Figures may float to locations deemed optimal based on the document flow and layout. This behavior allows LaTeX to make typographical decisions to best present the content.

However, the autonomous figure placing can also create issues when figures get separated too far from their textual references. Additionally, having multiple figures grouped together can interrupt the reading flow. In certain cases manually controlling the figure placement is needed.

The default behavior of figures floating to optimal positions

LaTeX's algorithm analyzes the document lexical units and assigns figures to locations designed to aid readers. Criteria includes avoiding suboptimal page breaks, preventing overflowing textual content, and grouping relevant figures. This produces professional typeset documents tailored for printed media.

When floating figures are problematic

Figures moving away from their references

Since LaTeX automatically positions figures based on optimizing page layout, the resultant location may diverge from being proximal to the textual reference. This distance can disrupt the reading flow or force the reader to search through multiple pages.

Figures scattered throughout the document

Similarly, LaTeX may determine related figures should be distributed across sections rather than grouped. This could hinder understanding compared to relevant visualizations appearing in sequence. It also decreases serendipitous re-examination of valuable reference material.

Locking Figures with the float Package

The float package provides control mechanisms to override LaTeX's automated figure placement behaviors. It enables manual figure position locking to address suboptimal typographic decisions. This allows adhering figures precisely to their textual references or logically grouping related figures.

Loading the float package

Basic syntax for including the package

Using the package requires adding:\


To the preamble. Then float modifiers can be added to figure insertion commands like:\

  \caption{Figure caption}

The H float modifier

Locking a figure to the precise location in the text

The H modifier explicitly locks the figure to the specific position in the source text instead of letting LaTeX optimize the page flow. This forces the figure to appear directly adjacent to the textual reference regardless of other typography or aesthetic considerations.

Using [H] for all figures vs. selected figures

The [H] can be blanket applied to all document figures using:\


However, selective use of [H] for only problematic figures may have better outcomes balancing auto and manual placements.

Best practices for locking figure positions

Carefully assess if overriding LaTeX's float algorithm truly benefits the document or unnecessarily contradicts typographical best practices. Use figure locking judiciously for situations like adhering multipanel figures or ensuring legibility of complex images.

Troubleshooting Issues with Locked Figures

While the H modifier precisely positions figures, complications can arise requiring debugging of latex code and manual rectification of inserted figures.

Debugging overlaying text and figures

In certain cases, inserting a mid-paragraph figure with [H] may cause the locked figure to visually overlay text instead of forcing a page break or proper wrapping around the image bounds. Resolving such issues requires restructuring sentence formulations to accommodate the figure location.

Adjusting spacing around locked figures

LaTeX inserts predefined buffer space surrounding floated figures to integrate them into text. But locked figures may lack sufficient gap for legibility, necessitating manual spacing tuning like:\

  \caption{Figure caption}

Forcing LaTeX to move text instead of figures

By default LaTeX dynamically positions figures even with the H modifier, repositioning text to accommodate the images. You can override this to forcefully inject a figure without moving surrounding text by using:

    \includegraphics[height=6cm, width=7cm, keepaspectratio]{figure.png}

Example Code for Locking a Figure Mid-document

For a real use case, let's examine source code that inserts an important figure mid-paragraph and observe the output.

Code walkthrough to lock a figure in a custom location

This text discusses an important concept then leverages [H] to inject a diagram directly adjacent for increased comprehension:



Discourse surrounding widget framification often overlooks... However, quantizing the mobilizers reveals bidirectional coupling as shown in Figure \ref{fig:widget}. This interdependency invalidates common assumptions...

  \caption{WIDGET ecosystem dependencies.}\label{fig:widget}  

Failure to account for this reverberative structure leads to distortions when modelling widget dynamics because...

Explanation of key options

Important configuration choices here include:

  • Loading float package in preamble using [figuresonly] applies position locking globally
  • Textual reference previews the figure for natural flow into the locked visualization
  • [H] modifier adheres the figure directly next to the preceding sentence
  • Image width standardized to the line length for consistency

Conclusion and Next Steps

Summary of float package capabilities

The float package enables manual override of LaTeX's automated figure positioning, preventing issues with distant or scattered images. Using the H modifier figures can be programmatically locked to precise locations alongside textual references. This improves flow and comprehension but may require troubleshooting spacing or text conflicts.

Recommendations for learning more

For additional details on advanced usage of the float package alongside other image and table placement techniques refer to "Formatting Information" guidebook published by LaTeX project.

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