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The style of section headings

Suppose that the editor of your favourite journal has specified that section headings must be centred, in small capitals, and subsection headings ragged right in italic, but that you don’t want to get involved in the sort of programming described in section 2.2 of The LaTeX Companion (see LaTeX books; the programming itself is discussed elsewhere in this FAQ). The following hack will probably satisfy your editor. Define yourself new commands

\newcommand{\ssection}[1]{%
  \section[#1]{\centering\normalfont\scshape #1}}
\newcommand{\ssubsection}[1]{%
  \subsection[#1]{\raggedright\normalfont\itshape #1}}

and then use \ssection and \ssubsection in place of \section and \subsection. This isn’t perfect: section numbers remain in bold, and starred forms need a separate redefinition.

The titlesec package offers a structured approach to the problem, based on redefinition of the sectioning and chapter commands themselves. This approach allows it to offer radical adjustment: its options provide (in effect) a toolbox for designing your own sectioning commands’ output.

The sectsty package provides a more simply structured set of tools; while it is less powerful than is titlesec, it is perhaps preferable for minor adjustments, since you can use it after having read a smaller proportion of the manual.

The fncychap package provides a nice collection of customised chapter heading designs. The anonchap package provides a simple means of typesetting chapter headings “like section headings” (i.e., without the “Chapter” part of the heading); the tocbibind package provides the same commands, in pursuit of another end.

The memoir class includes facilities that match sectsty and titlesec, as well as a bundle of chapter heading styles (including an anonchap-equivalent). The KOMA-script classes also have sets of tools that provide equivalent functionality, notably formatting specifications \partformat, \chapterformat, \sectionformat, …, as well as several useful overall formatting specifications defined in class options.

Finally, the indefatigable Vincent Zoonekynd supplies examples of how to program alternative chapter heading styles and section heading styles. The web pages provide programming examples, and expect users to adapt them to their own LaTeX use.

anonchap.sty
macros/latex/contrib/anonchap (or browse the directory); catalogue entry
fncychap.sty
macros/latex/contrib/fncychap (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
sectsty.sty
macros/latex/contrib/sectsty (or browse the directory); catalogue entry
titlesec.sty
macros/latex/contrib/titlesec (or browse the directory); catalogue entry
tocbibind.sty
macros/latex/contrib/tocbibind (or browse the directory); catalogue entry

This answer last edited: 2011-06-01


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This is FAQ version 3.28, released on 2014-06-10.