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Two or four figures (images) on one page is fine, but I find it really difficult to design a Letter-sized or A4-sized page with three figures, especially when all three figures have square aspect ratios. Are there any elegant solutions for this?

For example, here is a layout I came up with recently:

Sample page layout with three figures

Note that there is no text here, so all that whitespace makes the page even more inelegant. Placing figures in a row (or a column) makes them even smaller and the whitespace even more troubling. Unfortunately, this situation seems to occur quite often in technical page design.

I wonder if others have suggestions that could help improve how this page looks. Thanks!

  • Do you have text or anything else with the figures? Or only 3 figures? – go-junta Aug 12 '15 at 16:12
  • @go-me This question is for the case where there is no text, only three figures (although I find three-figure pages difficult even with text). I have now added an illustrative image to my question. – Girish Kulkarni Aug 12 '15 at 16:27
  • Could you resize one of them to span the full width of the document? – Joonas Aug 12 '15 at 16:30
  • Yes that does help in this case, but only because one of the figures (the green one) is very different from the other two. But that is not the case in general. Thanks for the suggestion though. – Girish Kulkarni Aug 12 '15 at 16:37
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Without any text...

Yes, it's hard to fit 3 square figures on a page, especially if you don't have any text or anything else on it to balance everything. Your only other options than the ones you mentioned in your questions are to alternate your squares if you want to keep the same size.

If it's going to be printed at some point, even on an office laser printer, your example doesn't leave much room for the margin, a staple in the top corner, binding or anything like this. You will need to shrink your figures a bit OR put 2 figures per pages if you can.

It usually looks like this if you want to have big squares and play safe:

Page with 3 figures standard

But if you can, the nicest way to add 3 square figures elegantly is to align them in the middle of the page, at smaller size.

Page with 3 figures centred

Otherwise, use 2 figures per page, or 1.

If you're not obliged to have 3 figures per page, it's ok to have 2 on one page, and a bigger one alone on another page. As long what you want to represent with your graphics is visible. Simply make the one with the most details on its own page.


If you had text...

If you have some text, you can create all sort of effects to balance your 3 figures.

Maybe you could add the figure number or source as text to add a little extra to your layouts.

Left aligned with compact text:

Page with 3 figures left

Alternating:

Page with 3 figures alternating

Right aligned with extended text area:

Page with 3 figures right

Top aligned:

Page with 3 figures top aligned

  • Thanks! Yes looks like adding some text is the way to go. I think the left aligned layout with compact text would suit technical documents. Now how to achieve that well in LaTeX is another question! – Girish Kulkarni Aug 12 '15 at 16:43
  • @GirishKulkarni Sometimes people add a little quote from the text mentioning the figure to put the reader back in context. You can use this too with the source or whatever other text... even one short line of text will help adding some balance. For LaTeX, you'll need to post another question, I have no clue about it but lot of people can help here! – go-junta Aug 12 '15 at 16:48

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