Whenever I search for LaTeX templates for books, theses (plural of thesis), lab reports and so on, I am often overwhelmed with hundreds of beautiful templates from which I have to choose just one.

However, when it comes to poetry anthologies, there is barely anything on the web (shock! horror!). I would have to build one from scratch using say, the memoir class, poetrytex or verse. Of course, this can be vexing if you don't have much LaTeXing experience...

So I was wondering if you could build some clean and simple templates for poetry lovers to get started. Here is an example from the Oxford Book of English Verse to give you some ideas.

The poetry anthology should include:

  • a title page
  • table of contents
  • poems
  • index (arranged alphabetically by author's surname)
  • options for setting indentations in the stanzas (see above and below links)

You could use this Tennyson poem as an example in your template.

  • See the verse selection on CTAN ... though I feel there must be more than that. (And memoir actually has a lot of very useful built-in features for typesetting poetry; check the manual.)
    – jon
    Jan 10, 2014 at 3:47
  • 3
    I’ve put Shakespeare’s sonnets on Dropbox for you to play with: dropbox.com/sh/9cy5ky37y1p6mbe/EeYor57Xzv A great deal depends on whether you want something suitable for reading on screen or for printing. Besides memoir, have a look at octavo.
    – Thérèse
    Jan 10, 2014 at 5:01
  • This question is ridiculous for a question on this site. It isn't reasonable to ask people to come up with entire solutions for books in an answer here. In any case, templates are a Very Bad Idea and best avoided like the plague. Far better to start from a solid class and proceed from there. Templates may appear to be a quick-fix, but they inevitably bite you in the most mysterious ways at the worst possible moments, usually when your code is already deeply template-dependent and your document severely addicted.
    – cfr
    Sep 18, 2017 at 23:06

2 Answers 2


I have never written poems, even with pencil, but I think that every book class is equally good as starting point to make a title page, table of contents and index. Which class to choose at this respect is mainly a matter of personal preference, IMHO. These are standard LaTeX procedures and there are hundreds of answers covering any possible problem and customization in these fields in this site.

So the only problem I see is the "verse environment". If that of memoirof those from the cited packages for typesetting poetry (also exist alt­verse or gm­verse in CTAN) does not provide a satisfactory results for you, try to learn to make your own environment (it's not as hard as it seem at the begining!).

If I've understood your question, mainly what you want is a progressive indentation of each line the stanza. This is possible with the parselines package, as you can see in my MWE.

I also added lettrines (so sloppy, I admit) fading colors and a few ornaments to the tile and ToC. This is not intended to be a good template,only to show that almost anything is possible with little effort starting with a general-purpose class (in this case, octavo).

Note: Compile twice is you want to see the ToC.



\newenvironment{verso}{\pagebreak[3]\begin{parse lines}[\parindent=1em\noindent]{\color{verso!!+}\hspace{\row\parindent}##1\newline\color{black}}}%
{\end{parse lines}}

\title{My \LaTeX{} \emph{poetry}}
\author{by Fran (that's me)}




\Huge \fontsize{75}{60}\selectfont
\artdecoframe{ My first\\ \emph{Poems}}
\large\emph{Who know I am \ldots} 


\chapter{Alfred, Lord Tennyson}
\section{\dotfill Break, Break, Break}

\makebox[.6em][c]{\lettrine{B}{}}reak, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!

And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!

O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;

But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!

But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

\chapter{Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer  (1836-1870)}
\section{\dotfill Volverán las oscuras golondrinas}


\makebox[1em][c]{\lettrine{V}{}}olverán las oscuras golondrinas
en tu balcón sus nidos a colgar,
y, otra vez, con el ala a sus cristales
jugando llamarán;

pero aquéllas que el vuelo refrenaban 
tu hermosura y mi dicha al contemplar,
aquéllas que aprendieron nuestros 
ésas... ¡no volverán! 

Volverán las tupidas madreselvas
de tu jardín las tapias a escalar,
y otra vez a la tarde, aun más hermosas,
sus flores se abrirán;


pero aquéllas, cuajadas de rocío,
cuyas gotas mirábamos temblar
y caer, como lágrimas del día...                
ésas... ¡no volverán!

Volverán del amor en tus oídos
las palabras ardientes a sonar;
tu corazón, de su profundo sueño
tal vez despertará;

pero mudo y absorto y de rodillas,
como se adora a Dios ante su altar,
como yo te he querido..., desengáñate:
¡así no te querrán!

  • 4
    Nice. If only you didn't use Zapf Chancery … ;-)
    – egreg
    Jan 10, 2014 at 23:36
  • @egred Be advised it could have been worse. My first thought was Auriocus Kalligraphicus... :-)
    – Fran
    Jan 11, 2014 at 0:33

Another example, this time using the book class (to setup book like margins and page layout), the poetrytex package to deal with the contents, list of poems, poem numbering, and other anthology things, and the verse package to actually typeset the poem (just being used for basic indentation in this case). I have not changed any of the fonts or formatting except for changing the title on the Table of Poems to simply read, "Poems" and a few other options passed into poetrytex:


\PassOptionsToPackage{bookmarks, colorlinks=false, hidelinks}{hyperref}
% Use PoetryTeX; http://www.ctan.org/pkg/poetrytex
\usepackage[numberpoems, clearpageafterpoem, useincipits]{poetrytex}

% Use the PA5 paper size

\renewcommand{\pttitle}{A Collection of Poetry}
\renewcommand{\ptsubtitle}{Mostly by people.}
\renewcommand{\ptdedication}{Frontmatter haiku:\\*This is dedicated to,\\*Someone else, not you.}



% Number pages with small roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv...)

% TOC %

% TOP %
\renewcommand*{\topname}{Poems} % Name for the table of poems

This is a prose preface.


% Start numbering pages with normal arabic numerals.

\begin{poem}{Break, break, break}{Tennyson}

\settowidth{\versewidth}{But the tender grace of a day that is dead}

% Incipits are used in the ToP if no title is given.
\incipit{Break, break, break},\\*
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!\\*
And I would that my tongue could utter\\*
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,\\*
That he shouts with his sister at play!\\*
O, well for the sailor lad,\\*
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on\\*
To their haven under the hill;\\*
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,\\*
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break\\*
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!\\*
But the tender grace of a day that is dead\\*
Will never come back to me.



A few selected screenshots:

Title Page Dedication and Contents Poem

  • Hi, it worked fine on MaxOSX Yosemite, but since I upgraded to El Capitan, I can't make TeXShop work with poetrytex. I have error like: /usr/local/texlive/2015/texmf-dist/tex/latex/poetrytex/poetrytex.sty:394: LaTeX Error: Unknown option pdfborder=0' for package poetrytex'. Could you help? Thanks in advance. Dec 28, 2015 at 9:29
  • That's an option that is passed to the hyperref package; you might need to update your version of hyperref (unless that option has been removed, in which case, could you file a bug report on the issue tracker?)
    – user10744
    Dec 28, 2015 at 15:08
  • Nevermind, I forgot the behavior changed when I released PoetryTeX 3.0. I've updated the answer to work with the old and new version.
    – user10744
    Dec 28, 2015 at 23:08

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