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Fitting a Table to a Page Using Non-linear Optimisation

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journal contribution
posted on 06.06.2017, 01:08 by Beaumont, Nicholas
It is sometimes difficult to fit a large table comprising several rows and columns onto a page. The usual tactic is to manually adjust column widths, abbreviate some text and/or change some cells' font sizes until the table fits onto a page. We show that it is possible to express the problem of adjusting column widths so as to minimize the height of a table as an optimization problem with non-linear constraints. Five test problems were routinely solved using a free software package. We stress that the solutions are approximate because the model imperfectly simulates how many lines of a cell of a table will be required to contain a segment of text, but they appear to provide good approximations in difficult cases. The scant literature is summarized; the formulation and solution techniques outlined; examples are described; and differences between theoretical and actual answers explained. It would be possible to incorporate the calculations in word processing and typesetting packages such as Word and TeX.

History

Year of first publication

2003

Series

Department of Management

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