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Orphan and widow control

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Orphan and widow control

1. Describe your environment: What is your industry? What is your role in your organization? Describe your stakeholders.


I am a structural engineer working in the bridge and heavy construction field.  I create designs for platforms, shoring towers, lifting devices, formwork, crane foundations, etc.  Pretty much anything the field needs to do complex structural work.  My design calculations need to be simple and easy to follow by other engineers but I do not need to take months to get them to a level of pristine publishable quality.  Although I create drawings that regular field crews must be able to understand for their own safety, calculations only get circulated amongst other engineers and sometimes to non-technical managers and staff.  

2. What version of Mathcad are you currently running?



3. Describe the problem you are trying to solve. Please include detailed documentation such as screenshots, images or video.


There is not much description to give as I'm sure this is a pretty common issue, and there may already be a feature request but none that was found with the keywords 'orphan' and 'widow' (common terms in word processors).  The problem is that near the end of the page get cut in half--part on the bottom of one page and the rest on the top of the next page.  That makes the equation unreadable.  Now usually I just add a few 'enters' and make the equation appear nicely on the next line.  What the problem is, is when I go back through a long document to make changes that require a lengthening or shortening of the document, then I have to go through every page to make sure all the spacing looks good.  Also I find that engineers in general are not architects and have an eye for the technical concepts but not as much the 'look' of their calculation document.


3A.  What is your suggested feature?


A very good question and but I am disappointed that you included this in the set of questions.  I feel like I have enough experience in my field, technical writing, and software implementation that my suggestions would be valuable.


I would suggest that there is at least an option in the 'Document' tab.  It should work that if a text box or an equation would be cut off, then the app will temporarily adjust the bottom margin for that page so that the equation is at the beginning of the next page in its entirety.  This adjustment of the bottom margin is only for the specific page and should not change the actual margin in terms if the grid or page footer.   And course it will cause a cascading effect, but at least it's the app that is taking care of the orphan's and widows, and not me every time I make an edit.

Maybe the user could supply an optional max. number of lines that the margin will adjust by so that extremely large items, like a matrix result, could be cut partway.  This way the user will have to be more specific how they want something like that to look.


So when the user start to type something near the bottom, when the app detects that the equation might get cut off, it would temporarily give the user more space until they finish writing/editing the equation.  That way it won't jump back and forth between the two pages while they are editing (like when I decide I need a tall matrix, then backspace it out, then change my mind again, etc.).  And if a user starts to edit an equation that has been automatically moved to the next page, maybe it stays like that until the user finishes editing it, then it will readjust to the previous page if the equation gets small enough.


This applies to plots and text boxes, but maybe not images.  It could be an option for any image you insert or maybe it is still controlled as a global option.  Like "Automatic orphan/widow control for: ☐ math, ☐ text boxes, ☐ plots, ☐ images, ☐ [whatever other options], etc."  And there should be an option for "☐ treat overlapping regions as one (for widow/orphan control)"

4. "What is the use case for your organization?"


This is not a well structured question and I am not sure what you are looking for here.  If you are asking of "how often does you organization encounter this challenge?" then, pretty much every time we use the program.

5. What business value would your suggestion represent for your organization?

I don't think only my 'organization' would be the sole beneficiary of this feature.  I think you need to look at this 'in the bigger picture' so the value is multiplied by however many 'organizations' you have as clients.  Generally this would be more efficient for everyone and less likely that a document will have cut-off calculations or text boxes, and will reduce the formatting portion of proofreading.   


Thank you for your consideration and I am happy to elaborate on this topic if you like.

1 Comment
Community Manager
Status changed to: Acknowledged

Hello @SPauliszyn,
Thank you for your idea and the information provided.