Frequently Asked Question List for TeX


Tables longer than a single page

Tables are, by default, set entirely in boxes of their own: as a result, they won’t split over a page boundary. Sadly, the world keeps turning up tables longer than a single page that we need to typeset.

For simple tables (whose shape is highly regular), the simplest solution may well be to use the tabbing environment, which is slightly tedious to set up, but which doesn’t force the whole alignment onto a single page.

The longtable package builds the whole table (in chunks), in a first pass, and then uses information it has written to the aux file during later passes to get the setting “right” (the package ordinarily manages to set tables in just two passes). Since the package has overview of the whole table at the time it’s doing “final” setting, the table is set “uniformly” over its entire length, with columns matching on consecutive pages. longtable has a reputation for failing to interwork with other packages, but it does work with colortbl, and its author has provided the ltxtable package to provide (most of) the facilities of tabularx (see fixed-width tables) for long tables: beware of its rather curious usage constraints — each long table should be in a file of its own, and included by \LTXtable{width}{file}. Since longtable’s multiple-page tables can’t possibly live inside floats, the package provides for captions within the longtable environment itself.

A seeming alternative to ltxtable is ltablex; but it is outdated and not fully functional. Its worst problem is its strictly limited memory capacity (longtable is not so limited, at the cost of much complication in its code); ltablex can only deal with relatively small tables, it doesn’t seem likely that support is available; but its user interface is much simpler than ltxtable, so if its restrictions aren’t a problem for you, it may be worth a try.

The supertabular package starts and stops a tabular environment for each page of the table. As a result, each “page worth” of the table is compiled independently, and the widths of corresponding columns may differ on successive pages. However, if the correspondence doesn’t matter, or if your columns are fixed-width, supertabular has the great advantage of doing its job in a single run.

Both longtable and supertabular allow definition of head- and footlines for the table; longtable allows distinction of the first and last head and foot.

The xtab package fixes some infelicities of supertabular, and also provides a “last head” facility (though this, of course, destroys supertabular’s advantage of operating in a single run).

The stabular package provides a simple-to-use “extension to tabular” that allows it to typeset tables that run over the end of a page; it also has usability extensions, but doesn’t have the head- and footline capabilities of the major packages.

Documentation of ltablex is to be found in the package file.

FAQ ID: Q-longtab
Tags: tablesfigures