I'm writing a short document listing some chronological events. I want to pick out a period with a big brace. Here's a quick mockup:

alt text

What's the best way to do this? Can I set the size declaratively - ie from line A to line B - somehow?

  • 1
    Although it might not be best for your particular situation: Unicode provides for characters that are just the top of the brace, the bottom, and the middle. They can be connected with vertical lines of whatever length is necessary. Then, the resulting composite brace is as tall as it needs to be, but without being heavier in weight. Not specific to TeX. Of course, hardly any fonts have these characters. – user103221 Feb 23 '17 at 18:43
  • @RobtA seems awesome! what are the characters (top of the brace, the bottom, and the middle)? oops, found it: discover your character – nilon Apr 29 '17 at 7:48
up vote 25 down vote accepted

I suggest a variation of Giel's answer with tabular

$\left.\begin{tabular}{l}
line \\
one more line
\end{tabular}\right\}$

(or smth like {tabular}{p{5cm}} if you need not a couple of short lines but a paragraph inside the tabular).

  • Good idea. To span more rows, use \parbox instead of tabular. $\left. \parbox{\linewidth}{\lipsum[1]} \,\right\} \textrm{Title}$. Note: \lipsum[1] is a dummy text from lipsum.sty package. – xport Nov 27 '10 at 14:10

As this is one of the initial, and therefore most visible, incarnations of \tikzmark, I thought it a good idea to update it to an answer using the \tikzmark library.

\documentclass{article}
%\url{https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/1570/86}
\usepackage{tikz}
\usetikzlibrary{decorations.pathreplacing,calc,tikzmark}

\begin{document}

\hfill\tikzmark{right}
\begin{itemize}
\item First line
\item Second line \tikzmark{2nd}
\item Third line, which is quite long and seemingly tedious in the extreme
\item Fourth line, which isn't as long as the third \tikzmark{4th}
\item Fifth line
\end{itemize}

\begin{tikzpicture}[overlay, remember picture]
\node[anchor=base] (a) at (pic cs:2nd) {\vphantom{h}}; % push the mark to the top of the line (ie including ascenders)
\node[anchor=base] (b) at (pic cs:4th) {\vphantom{g}}; % push the mark to the bottom of the line (ie including descenders)
\draw [decoration={brace,amplitude=0.5em},decorate,ultra thick,gray]
 (a.north -| {pic cs:right}) -- (b.south -| {pic cs:right});
\end{tikzpicture}
\end{document}

braces next to text


Original Answer

I'd seriously suggest using tikz for this. Here's an alternative to Caramdir's (excellent) solution:

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{tikz}
\usetikzlibrary{decorations.pathreplacing,calc}

\newcommand{\tikzmark}[1]{\tikz[overlay,remember picture] \node (#1) {};}

\begin{document}

\hfill\tikzmark{right}
\begin{itemize}
\item First line
\item Second line \tikzmark{2nd}
\item Third line, which is quite long and seemingly tedious in the extreme
\item Fourth line, which isn't as long as the third \tikzmark{4th}
\item Fifth line
\end{itemize}

\begin{tikzpicture}[overlay, remember picture]
\draw [decoration={brace,amplitude=0.5em},decorate,ultra thick,gray]
 ($(right)!(2nd.north)!($(right)-(0,1)$)$) --  ($(right)!(4th.south)!($(right)-(0,1)$)$);
\end{tikzpicture}
\end{document}

What I like about this one is that it doesn't mess around with how the actual data is put in, the decoration is added afterwards almost as an afterthought, which (to me) fits in better with the feel of what you're trying to do.

What isn't so good is the placement of the brace horizontally. Because I don't know how your are typesetting your data, nor what sort of data it is, I've just shoved the brace to the right-hand side. If your data is more structured, as the graphic suggests, then it would be easy to make it appear in the right place. (Indeed, from experimenting, I'd say that if your data isn't nicely structured - by which I mean that the lines should be of similar widths - then a brace at the right-hand side doesn't look good as it's not easy to see exactly which lines it is including or excluding.)

  • 4
    That \tikzmark macro is a good idea, I have to remember that. – Caramdir Aug 11 '10 at 21:00
  • I think the result looks nicer if the tikzmark places its not slightly above the baseline: \node at (0,0.7ex) (#1)... – Seamus Mar 1 '11 at 14:37
  • @Seamus: Since I answered this, I've changed my way of doing it. I now place a \vphantom{X} in the node which makes it better placed. (Actually, I have \tikzmarkX which does this, and various other variants .. but you just knew that I'd have a more complicated scheme, didn't you!) – Loop Space Mar 1 '11 at 18:11
  • 7
    Why \node (#1) {};? \coordinate (#1); would be better. It avoids border issues with (name) versus (name.center) etc. – Martin Scharrer Jun 24 '11 at 12:20
  • 1
    @Raama Given that this is quite an old question and that that change would need a few bits that I'm not sure how to do, I think that's worth asking as a new question (refer back to this one, of course). – Loop Space Oct 25 '12 at 16:37

Just for fun an answer using TikZ:

\usetikzlibrary{matrix,decorations.pathreplacing}

\begin{tikzpicture}
    \matrix (m) [matrix of nodes,column 1/.style={anchor=west}]
    {
    The first line. \\
    The second line. \\
    A very long third line that goes on. \\
    A fourth line. \\
    And finally a last line. \\
    };

    \draw [decoration={brace,amplitude=0.5em},decorate,ultra thick,gray]
        (m-2-1.north -| m.east) -- (m-4-1.south -| m.east);
\end{tikzpicture}

example rendering

To specify from which row to which row the brace should go change m-2-1 and m-4-1 accordingly (the second number is always the row). To change thickness and color, change the ultra thick and gray parts (see section 14.3 of the TikZ manual). To add a text to the right of the brace change -- to -- node[black, right=0.7em] {some text}. The amplitude option defines how much the brace extends and you can add ,aspect=factor (with factor replaced by a number between 0 and 1) to specify where the pointy part lies on the brace (see section 27.3). Changing anchor=west to anchor=east make the lines right aligned, removing it centers them.

  • Additional question: if I want some further text to the right of the brace, could you say how to do it? (The idea is that in the document I'm trying to typeset, a bunch of lines need to be collected together with a brace and some text like "and their spouses" on the right of the brace.) I could ask a new question, but if the answer is a trivial variation of this, it would pretty much be a duplication. – ShreevatsaR Oct 26 '11 at 16:55
  • @ShreevatsaR: Simply replace -- in the \draw command by -- node[right=1em] {and their spouses} (adjust the 1em to whatever distance looks good for your text). Exactly the same also works for Andrew's solution. – Caramdir Oct 26 '11 at 23:16

A simpler solution:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{lipsum}
\usepackage{schemata}
\begin{document}
\lipsum[1]
\schema[close]{\lipsum[2]}{}
\lipsum[3]
\end{document}

MWE

  • 4
    A very elegant solution. It's worth mentioning that the second argument can be used to place text in the margin, i.e. \schema[close]{body text}{margin text} – onewhaleid Jul 22 '14 at 23:33

In mathmode you could use some trickery like putting a matrix to the left of a \right}, e.g.:

\documentclass{article}

\begin{document}

\begin{displaymath}
    \left. \begin{array}{cc}
        - & - \\
        - & - \\
        - & -
    \end{array} \right\}
\end{displaymath}

\end{document}
  • Ooh, actually this works nicely, though I'm not sure how it will copy with a body of text. I might also be able to use \cases in an unconventional way... – Internet man Aug 11 '10 at 19:51
  • @tex-offender you can wrap bodies of text in an \mbox{}, within that box text is rendered in normal (i.e. non-math) mode – Giel Aug 13 '10 at 21:29

You can use pstricks-add.sty as follows: (details can be found here on page 18)

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{pstricks-add}
\usepackage{lipsum}

\begin{document}
\lipsum[1]
\par\noindent%
\begin{minipage}{0.99\linewidth}%adjust if necessary
\noindent\hfill\rnode{A}{}~
\par
\vspace*{-0.5ex}%adjust if necessary
\lipsum[1]
\vspace*{-2ex}%adjust if necessary
\noindent\hfill\hspace{5mm}\rnode{B}{}~%
\psbrace[linecolor=red,ref=lC](B)(A){Important!}
\end{minipage}
\par
\lipsum[1]
\end{document}

This is the output:

alt text

  • 1
    the braced paragraph lacks the expected paragraph indent. – barbara beeton Nov 7 '11 at 19:38

Here's an implementation of Andrew Stacey's excellent (and very famous) tikzmark idea using the tcolorbox package.

screenshot

As you can see, it allows page breaks, although the brace is repeated across pages.

% arara: pdflatex
% !arara: indent: {overwrite: on}
\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{lipsum}
\usepackage[many]{tcolorbox}
\usetikzlibrary{decorations.pathreplacing}

\newtcolorbox{rightbrace}{%
    enhanced jigsaw, 
    breakable, % allow page breaks
    frame hidden, % hide the default frame
    overlay={%
        \draw [
            fill=none, % fill paper
            decoration={brace,amplitude=0.5em},
            decorate,
            ultra thick,
            gray,
        ]
        % right line
        (frame.north east)--(frame.south east);
    },
    % paragraph skips obeyed within tcolorbox
    parbox=false,
}

\begin{document}

\begin{itemize}
    \item First line
          \begin{rightbrace}
            \item Second line 
            \item Third line, which is quite long and seemingly tedious in the extreme
            \item Fourth line, which isn't as long as the third 
          \end{rightbrace}
    \item Fifth line
\end{itemize}

\begin{rightbrace}
    \lipsum[1]
\end{rightbrace}
\lipsum[2]

\end{document}
  • @cmughes How to do the same for a curly bracket on the left side of the text please? I have posted a new question, particularly for a curly bracket spanning Items inside an Itemize environment, for which your knowledge might be particularly useful. Could you know an anwer? – Vincent Mia Edie Verheyen Apr 17 '16 at 20:42
  • @vincent: try using frame.north west and frame.south west :) – cmhughes Apr 17 '16 at 20:49
  • @cmhuges: I have tried, but the brace is still oriented wrongly. It should be flipped horizontally (cf. the code in my answer of the mentioned question Items inside an Itemize environment). – Vincent Mia Edie Verheyen Apr 17 '16 at 20:52
  • Oh, I see the problem now :) not sure of the answer, maybe there could be a trick like reflecting the brace? Don't know if tikz has a left brace?... – cmhughes Apr 17 '16 at 21:20
  • To reflect the brace, reverse the direction of the path. So use (frame.south west) -- (frame.north west). – Loop Space Feb 15 at 19:28

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