[texhax] penalties

pierre.mackay at comcast.net pierre.mackay at comcast.net
Thu Apr 30 23:50:20 CEST 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Sgouros" <tomfool at as220.org> 
To: texhax at tug.org 
Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 2:49:56 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern 
Subject: [texhax] penalties 

Hi All: 

I've never really had to mess with penalties in all the time I've used 
TeX, but now I have to, and I don't really get how to go about it. I 
have a long document (~150 pages), and there are only about four places 
where the line-breaking isn't working right. But in those places, I 
don't really know what to do. The FAQ suggests changing some penalties, 
but the other 500 paragraphs look fine, and I don't want to make global 
changes. I thought I could do this: 

{\hyphenpenalty5000 Text of offending paragraph.} 

Too sophisticated. I usually \hbox{the last two or three words,} 
of the paragraph. I do that throughout the article, to avoid clubs. 

But that seems to have no effect, whatever I set the value to. The FAQ 
also suggests appending "\looseness=-1" to the last word of the 

\looseness is a great tool for page balancing, but it goes at the start of the paragraph 
you are loosening. I always put it after anything else, but before \noindent. 
If it doesn't work, that means that the linebreaking has not found any workable 
values. I hunt for last lines that almost fill the page as indications that \looseness=1 will work 
and use \looseness=1 on almost all paragraphs with short clubs. 

I don't see how I could do page balancing without it. 

Pierre MacKay 
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