Finding if you’re on an odd or an even page

Another question discusses the issue of getting \marginpar commands to put their output in the correct margin of two-sided documents. This is an example of the general problem of knowing where a particular bit of text lies: the output routine is asynchronous, and (La)TeX will usually process quite a bit of the “next” page before deciding to output any page. As a result, the page counter (known internally in LaTeX as \c@page) is normally only reliable when you’re actually in the output routine.

The solution is to use some version of the \label mechanism to determine which side of the page you’re on; the value of the page counter that appears in a \pageref command has been inserted in the course of the output routine, and is therefore safe.

However, \pageref itself isn’t reliable: one might hope that

would do the necessary, but both the babel and hyperref packages have been known to interfere with the output of \pageref; be careful!

The changepage package needs to provide this functionality for its own use, and therefore provides a command \checkoddpage; this sets a private-use ‘label’, and the page reference part of that label is then examined (in a hyperref-safe way) to set a conditional \ifoddpage true if the command was issued on an odd page. (The memoir class has the same command.) LaTeX users who are unfamiliar with TeX’s \if... commands may use the ifthen package:


Of course, the ‘label’ contributes to LaTeX’s “Rerun to get cross-references right” error messages…

The Koma-Script classes have an addmargin* environment that also provides the sorts of facilities that the changepage offers. Koma-Script’s supporting command:

executes different things depending on the page number.

The package ifoddpage is designed to provide the same facility; crucially, it can behave “sensibly” even if you are typesetting for one-side printing only; like the changepage it uses a ‘check’ command \checkoddpage. The conditional ‘side’ flags are set using (Plain) TeX conditionals; they are defined locally, so that you can minimise their use of TeX workspace — see the package documentation for the somewhat tricky sequence involved. In addition the package provides a command \ifoddpageoroneside, which is true on odd pages of a two-side document, or on all pages of a one-side document. Usage is:

  odd-side text
  even-side text
The author’s recommended usage (trickily) includes the whole operation in a box; this has the advantage that your test will always work, but the usual disadvantage that boxes may not split. In common uses, the whole work will be done inside a box (as, for example, in the case of a float), so the elaborate work proposed by the author is not necessary.
Part of the LaTeX distribution: latex
KOMA script bundle