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[See Torn paper: matching up the torn edges for more on this topic, as well as better illustrations of the final product.]

I have a document with a lot of short excerpts from another book scattered through it. Putting frames around them looks a little too 'clean'. How can I get a 'torn page' type effect, to make it look as if the excerpt has been physically torn out of a book? (I've occasionally seen this done in printed books, although I can't find an example right now.)

I'm not wedded to a very specific look here -- Googling 'torn page' gives plenty of examples. But just to give this some frame of reference, here are some of the nicer ones:

enter image description here


enter image description here


(The strong colouration in this second example is a probably a little too distracting for actual use, although it might be interesting as an option. It's more the edge effect I'm interested in.)

enter image description here

Edit (again): I tried typesetting my text according to the updated versions of the answers below. Here are the results:

enter image description here

Or with interpolated shading: http://people.ds.cam.ac.uk/mg262/combined2.pdf

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I am quite sure some tikz answers will show up soon; I'd like to note that it seems to me that some fractal-based solution might be a good idea. – mbork Dec 8 '12 at 20:14
For clarification: Are you interested in actually cutting off text, or just framing it with ragged edges that look like a torn page? – Charles Staats Dec 9 '12 at 0:13
@Charles Staats: just framing. – Mohan Dec 9 '12 at 0:24
Relevant: mathematica.stackexchange.com/q/4148 (if someone's looking for ideas) – Lorem Ipsum Dec 9 '12 at 4:44
To insert a image sample which looks right, you can capture the screen when using the appropriate pdf viewer, and crop the relevant part. A good tool for this kind of things under Windows is irfanview. – JLDiaz Dec 9 '12 at 18:28
up vote 79 down vote accepted

Not exactly the result you wanted, but it can be a starting point. It combines framed and tikz packages. The idea can lead to further improvements.


See http://www.texample.net/tikz/examples/framed-tikz/ (btw, I'm the author)

UPDATE: Playing with the idea of a fractal decoration, and also with shaded paper and blurred drop shadows, I got the following results. Currently the implementation still does not use framed, so it is restricted to the case in which the framed paragraph does not break among pages.


\usepackage{lipsum}   % To generate test text 
\usepackage[margin=1cm]{geometry}% for screen preview
\pgfmathsetseed{1} % To have predictable results
% Define a background layer, in which the parchment shape is drawn

% This is the base for the fractal decoration. It takes a random point between the start and end, and
% raises it a random amount, thus transforming a segment into two, connected at that raised point
% This decoration can be applied again to each one of the resulting segments and so on, in a similar
% way of a Koch snowflake.
\pgfdeclaredecoration{irregular fractal line}{init}

% define some styles
   paper/.style={draw=black!10, blur shadow, shade=bilinear interpolation,
                 lower left=black!20, upper left=black!15, upper right=white, lower right=black!10},
   irregular border/.style={decoration={irregular fractal line, amplitude=0.2},
   ragged border/.style={ decoration={random steps, segment length=7mm, amplitude=2mm},

% Macro to draw the shape behind the text, when it fits completly in the
% page
  \node[inner sep=1em] (A) {#1};  % Draw the text of the node
  \begin{pgfonlayer}{background}  % Draw the shape behind
  \fill[paper] % recursively decorate the bottom border
        decorate[irregular border]{decorate{decorate{decorate{decorate[ragged border]{
        ($(A.south east) - (0, random*5mm)$) -- ($(A.south west) - (0, random*5mm)$)
        -- (A.north west) -- (A.north east) -- cycle;



NOTE Some pdf viewers (eg. Sumatra) have issues to display the interpolated shading used in the last examples.

UPDATE See also the related question Torn paper: matching up the torn edges

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Even if it's not quite what I'm looking for, that's beautiful! I don't suppose you'd consider turning it into a package? – Mohan Dec 8 '12 at 20:20
Regarding the update: the q. doesn't request multi-page excerpts, so I think you're safe! – Mohan Dec 9 '12 at 10:47
Acrobat 9.4.1 displays correctly, some portability limintations: Evince 3.6.1 shows an artificial grid inside a the paper, qpdfview 0.4.1 shows the paper correctly but there are glitches in the shadow, xpdf 3.03 shows all black. – alfC May 6 '13 at 22:17
@JLDiaz, Also, is there any change one can use this frame around a lstlisting enviroment? I can't do it (\lst@next has an extra }). The error has to do with fragile issues. – alfC May 6 '13 at 23:21
Since version 3.0, shade=bilinear interpolation should be shading=bilinear interpolation. – Clément Feb 4 '15 at 23:50

EDIT: Added color on request.

Here is an approach which builds on Marc van Dongen's answer to Simulating hand-drawn lines.

\begin{tikzpicture}[pencildraw/.style={ %
    decoration={random steps,segment length=2pt,amplitude=1pt}
    } %
preaction={fill=black,opacity=.5,transform canvas={xshift=1mm,yshift=-1mm}},
pencildraw,draw,fill=paper,text width=.8\textwidth,inner sep=5mm] 

Output: enter image description here

And yes, this does not really look like paper.

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Thanks! Is memoir a requirement? – Mohan Dec 8 '12 at 22:16
No, memoir is not required. See also the question that I linked to. – Jesper Ipsen Dec 8 '12 at 22:16
By the way, is it possible to change the colour of the 'rectangle' enclosed by the line, or does the ragged edge make that difficult? – Mohan Dec 8 '12 at 22:53
@Mohan, it's easy to change the color. Simply replace fill=white with another color. You could define a new color \definecolor{paper}{RGB}{239,227,157}, and use fill=paper – Jesper Ipsen Dec 8 '12 at 23:05
@Ipsen... I would say that this is also well worth making into a package. – Mohan Dec 9 '12 at 10:45

I think this would be a natural application of the tcolorbox package.

In the answer below, I've used part of Jesper's answer to decorate the tcolorbox environment; this approach permits an environment-based approach, so that you can use, for example,


enter image description here

Furthermore, the tcolorbox allows page breaks.

enter image description here

Here's a complete MWE which can be built upon.

% arara: pdflatex
% !arara: indent: {overwrite: on}
    enhanced jigsaw, breakable, % allow page breaks
    frame hidden, % hide the default frame
        \draw [
            fill=paper, % fill paper
            draw=paper!50!black, % boundary colour
            decorate, % decoration
            decoration={random steps,segment length=2pt,amplitude=1pt},
            drop shadow, % shadow
        % top line
        (frame.north west)--(frame.north east)--
        % right line
        (frame.north east)--(frame.south east)--
        % bottom line
        (frame.south east)--(frame.south west)--
        % left line
        (frame.south west)--(frame.north west);
    % paragraph skips obeyed within tcolorbox
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