# Style individual epigraphs or leave default?

I am writing a doctoral thesis and I have a fair few epigraphs after each of my chapter titles. I can't decide whether it is better to style each of the individual epigraphs, or have a generic styling for all of them. That is, some of the epigraphs are short, and some are long and what looks good for the long epigraphs does not look so good for the short ones.

Best not to fiddle, or get it looking perfect?

To clarify: I am looking for advice on how to implement the epigraph package on a large document. I believe that fiddling about and hand adapting code is not the TeX way, and I am interested in what others would do in this circumstance.

Last Update:

I did originally style the individual epigraphs. But when I moved to having more than 1 epigraph, I invoked the \begin{epigraph} env, which seems not to play ball with the command:

\setlength{\epigraphwidth}{.8\textwidth}


And thus, it all starts to get a bit higgledy-piggledy. I have actually settled on the style below, but personally I think it looks a little crook.

MWE:

\documentclass{report}
\usepackage{setspace}
\usepackage{epigraph}
\setlength{\epigraphrule}{0pt}
\onehalfspacing
\begin{document}
\chapter{Introduction}
\setlength{\epigraphwidth}{.95\textwidth}
\begin{epigraphs}
\qitem{For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.}%
{---\textsc{Ecclesiastes 9:5-6}}
\qitem{In the long run, we are all dead.}%
{---\textsc{John Maynard Keynes}}
\end{epigraphs}
\noindent Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus tincidunt urna gravida odio ultrices ullamcorper. Praesent bibendum feugiat tortor pellentesque luctus. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Donec et velit magna. Proin malesuada ornare lacinia. Pellentesque ac justo sit amet neque ullamcorper mollis. Quisque tempus vehicula tempor. Quisque magna tortor, aliquam eu dictum a, sodales nec dui. Etiam semper sem interdum tellus egestas imperdiet. Donec sed dolor non nibh rhoncus scelerisque ac vel diam.
\end{document}

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This question doesn't seem to be anything to do with TeX or friends. It's a question about typography. And as such, it's not particularly interesting. It's just a question of how much you value consistency versus how much you value each epigraph looking "just right". –  Seamus May 28 '11 at 11:57
I disagree. I was looking for advice on how to implement the epigraph package on a large document. I believe that fiddling about and hand adapting code is not the TeX way, and I am interested in what others would do in this circumstance. –  Frank_Zafka May 28 '11 at 12:07
@Seamus: "It's a question about typography. And as such, it's not particularly interesting." What are you on about?! –  morbusg May 28 '11 at 12:24
@morsbug I mean that among questions of typography, it isn't an interesting one. The next sentence explained why I thought it wasn't an interesting typography question. I see now how I could be misunderstood as saying that questions of typography are not interesting, which is false. –  Seamus May 28 '11 at 12:48
It doesn't matter. Spell check comes much later. –  Frank_Zafka May 28 '11 at 16:11

I personally find epigraphs at the start of chapters disruptive. The start of a Chapter should lead the reader to read on rather than distract.

I would suggest to place them at the end of the Chapters to reward the reader with something rather lighter - after what I presume is a difficult read. In this respect I would suggest follow Knuth's style, which is shown below.

As you will observe you can vary them in size and they still look stylish. As to the positioning and your quest for typographical perfection follow Tschichold's advise in the quote above!

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An interesting perspective. –  Frank_Zafka May 28 '11 at 17:21
@RSoul If you think about an HTML page, you would never place an epigraph with your headline. The Chapter Title is a headline. –  Yiannis Lazarides May 28 '11 at 17:51
I appreciate different opinions, but the question is not whether epigraphs are correct or appropriate at the start of a chapter, but that were I to use them, how to achieve the most consistent, least distracting layout. Finally, I regularly read chapters starting with an epigraph. Perhaps in some contexts it is more appropriate than others? –  Frank_Zafka May 28 '11 at 18:04
@RSoul I appreciate what you say. If I had to keep them on top I would still say that the "Knuth style" is the most appropriate, i.e., vary the width to suit the typography. –  Yiannis Lazarides May 28 '11 at 18:12
I very much like Knuth's style and noted the very same quotes when I recently read through it. It's just that the epigraphs really do seem more appropriate at the start of the topic. It is just a matter of opinion, and horses for courses. –  Frank_Zafka May 28 '11 at 18:17

Taking the question as it has been posed (without entering into the questions whether epigraphs are a good or bad idea, or where they should be) ... I can't see anything inherently wrong with individually styling epigraphs, if it improves the document.

TeX, LaTeX and packages do wonderful things, but they have limits: they can't "see" and they can't understand what is being typeset. A human can. There will always be some things (such as the placement of floats, sometimes page breaking, microtypographical adjustments of things like title-pages and display matter) where the human eye can sometimes make improvements. And where that is the case, I wouldn't hesitate to adjust manually. In the end, these are tools to produce typeset documents, not ends-in-themselves.

However ... I would want to be quite sure that my improvements are truly improvements. Consistency is itself a virtue in typeset documents. Short answer then: fiddle by all means but only if you are actually confident that your "perfect" is actually an improvement.

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I was wrong about the \begin{epigraphs} not accepting multiple adjustment settings. It is possible to style all epigraphs in a \qitem list, thus achieving a consistent look, hopefully:

\documentclass{report}
\usepackage{setspace}
\usepackage{epigraph}
\setlength{\epigraphrule}{0pt}
\onehalfspacing
\begin{document}
\chapter{Introduction}
\setlength{\epigraphwidth}{.95\textwidth}
\begin{epigraphs}
\qitem{For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.}%
{---\textsc{Ecclesiastes 9:5-6}}
\centering
\setlength{\epigraphwidth}{.45\textwidth}
\qitem{In the long run, we are all dead.}%
{---\textsc{John Maynard Keynes}}
\end{epigraphs}
\noindent Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus tincidunt  urna gravida odio ultrices ullamcorper. Praesent bibendum feugiat tortor pellentesque  luctus. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Donec et velit magna. Proin malesuada ornare lacinia. Pellentesque ac justo sit amet neque ullamcorper mollis. Quisque tempus vehicula tempor. Quisque magna tortor, aliquam eu dictum a, sodales nec dui. Etiam semper sem interdum tellus egestas imperdiet. Donec sed dolor non nibh rhoncus scelerisque ac vel diam.
\end{document}

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