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Typesetting epigraphs

Epigraphs are those neat quotations that authors put at the start of chapters (or even at the end of chapters: Knuth puts things at the ends of chapters of the TeXbook).

Typesetting them is a bit of a fiddle, but not impossible to do for yourself. Fortunately, there are two packages that do the job, to some extent; there are also facilities in the two “big” classes (memoir and koma-script.

The epigraph package defines an \epigraph command, for creating a single epigraph (as at the top of a chapter):

\chapter{The Social Life of Rabbits}
\epigraph{Oh!  My ears and whiskers!}%
         {Lewis Carroll}

and an epigraphs environment, for entering more than one epigraph consecutively, in a sort of list introduced by \qitem commands:

\begin{epigraphs}
\qitem{What I tell you three times is true}%
      {Lewis Carroll}
\qitem{Oh listen do, I'm telling you!}%
      {A.A. Milne}
\end{epigraphs}

The \epigraphhead command enables you to place your epigraph above a chapter header:

\setlength{\unitlength}{1pt}
...
\chapter{The Social Life of Rabbits}
\epigraphhead[<distance>]{%
  \epigraph{Oh!  My ears and whiskers!}%
           {Lewis Carroll}%
}

The <distance> says how far above the chapter heading the epigraph is to go; it’s expressed in terms of the \unitlength that’s used in the picture environment; the package’s author recommends 70pt.

The package also offers various tricks for adjusting the layout of chapter header (necessary if you’ve found a hugely long quotation for an \epigraphhead), for patching the bibliography, for patching \part pages, and so on. (Some of these suggested patches lead you through writing your own package…)

The quotchap package redefines chapter headings (in a moderately striking way), and provides an environment savequotes in which you can provide one (or more) quotations to use as epigraphs. The facilities seem not as flexible as those of epigraph, but it’s probably easier to use.

The memoir class offers all the facilities of the epigraph package. The Koma-script classes have commands \setchapterpreamble and \dictum to provide these facilities.

epigraph.sty
macros/latex/contrib/epigraph (or browse the directory); catalogue entry
KOMA script bundle
macros/latex/contrib/koma-script (or browse the directory); catalogue entry
memoir.cls
macros/latex/contrib/memoir (or browse the directory); catalogue entry
quotchap.sty
macros/latex/contrib/quotchap (or browse the directory); catalogue entry


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This is FAQ version 3.27, released on 2013-06-07.