Extra vertical space in floats

A common complaint is that extra vertical space has crept into figure or table floating environments. More common still are users who post code that introduces this extra space, and haven’t noticed the problem!

The trouble arises from the fact that the center environment (and its siblings flushleft and flushright) are actually based on LaTeX’s list-handling code; and lists always separate themselves from the material around them. Meanwhile, there are parameters provided to adjust the spacing between floating environments and their surroundings; so if we have:

\begin{figure}
 \begin{center}
   \includegraphics{...}
   \caption{...}
 \end{center}
\end{figure}

or worse still:

\begin{figure}
 \begin{center}
   \includegraphics{...}
 \end{center}
 \caption{...}
\end{figure}

unwarranted vertical space is going to appear.

The solution is to let the float and the objects in it position themselves, and to use “generic” layout commands rather than their list-based encapsulations.

\begin{figure}
  \centering
  \includegraphics{...}
  \caption{...}
\end{figure}

(which even involves less typing).

This alternative code will work with any LaTeX package. It will not work with obsolete (pre-LaTeX2e) packages such as psfig or epsf — see graphics inclusion for discussion of the genesis of \includegraphics.

This answer last edited: 2012-11-16

This question on the Web: http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=vertspacefloat