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December 5, 2010 / Rohit

Two Column Paper Layout

Most technical papers which I have read till date use the two-column format. Basically the text in each page is laid out in two columns rather than one. For example, see the GFS paper. Now this style of formatting is common in newspapers and magazines, but not so when it comes to text which you might read on your computer.

Reading papers in the two column format, on a computer, is really cumbersome. The main problem comes with scrolling. You finish reading the first column of text and then you have to scroll all the way up to start reading the next column. An alternative of course is to fit the page onto the whole screen, such that one can see both columns at the same time.  But doing this decreases the text size and it becomes too small to read.

Figure 1: Two Column Paper Layout. Best-Fit. How can I read this?

So I set out to find if there was something which converted two-column PDFs into a single column PDF. Papercrop seems to be able to do this, but I wasn’t able to build it for Linux (I wonder how it handles pictures which span both columns)

Apart from Papercrop, I couldn’t find anything. So is there a better way to read a two-column paper other than taking a printout?

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