Two-Column Scientific Journal Articles

I was wondering why I find many two-column scientific Journal publications so hard to read.

I guess the main reason is that the figures are often too far away from their references. As shown here:



What you can see here is that there is a huge distance between the reference to figures 1 and 2 and the actual figures. When reading this on a computer screen you have to scroll around a lot.

The reason for this seems obvious: Journal publications layouts are still optimized for being printed on paper in letter format. Therefore, they use two columns because the lines of text would be too wide otherwise, except if they wasted more than half the page’s width by leaving it blank.

But it seems to me that the figure placement becomes really hard with these layouts. And it becomes even worse with strange  rules like “no figures on the front page” (at least it seems to me that such a rule exists. I think that it would be much more convenient if the text was laid out in one single column and if the figures were directly places next to their references (and in case of multiple references to those that explain the figure first).

Some Journals have obviously already realized this problem and I’m not telling a new story here, but still, I wonder why someone started to use this strange layout in the first place.



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