Balancing can improve the accuracy of computed eigenvalues by sometimes reducing the norm of the matrix. Osborne  showed that balancing a matrix in the 2-norm also minimizes the Frobenius norm. Eaves et. al.  showed that balancing in the 1-norm minimizes the sum of the elements, if A is non-negative. Code for approximately balancing matrices in the 1-norm can be found in linear algebra packages such as Eispack (under the name balanc), Lapack (under the name gebal), and Matlab (under the name balance).
Our first code is a sparse version of the standard dense code. It takes a matrix, permutes it into its strongly connected components, and balances each component. The C version of the code takes as input a matrix in either column-compressed or permuted-column-compressed format. The code returns a matrix in permuted-column-compressed format together with the permuted diagonal matrix used to scale the original matrix and information about the strongly connected components found. The Matlab code includes a slightly modified version of the C code together with a mex-file interface.
The second is a set of Krylov-based methods. These methods access the matrix to be balanced using only matrix-vector and sometimes matrix-vector multiplications. We have three algorithms, the first uses only matrix-vector multiplication, the other two use both matrix-vector and matrix-transpose-vector multiplications. In each case the algorithm can be described in a few lines. The Matlab code provided below is no more than 20 lines of code per algorithm. The rationale for these algorithms can be found in the document "Balancing Sparse Matrices for Computing Eigenvalues".
T.-Y. Chen and J.W. Demmel. Balancing Sparse Matrices for Computing Eigenvalues. < abstract> < gzipped postscipt > Lin. Alg. Appl. 309:261-287. April 2000.
T.-Y. Chen and J.W. Demmel. Balancing Sparse Matrices for Computing Eigenvalues. In Templates for the Solution of Algebraic Eigenvalue Problems: a Practical Guide, Z. Bai, J. Demmel, J. Dongarra, A. Ruhe, and H. van der Vorst, editors. Pages 152-157. SIAM, 2000.
Also available are the slides from a talk I gave at the NERSC scientific computing seminar. < gzipped postscript >
 E.E. Osborne. On pre-conditioning of matrices. JACM , 7:338-345, 1960.
 B. Parlett and C. Reinsch. Balancing a matrix for calculation of eigenvalues and eigenvectors. Numer. Math. 13:293-304, 1969.