Placing a decorative separator in text [duplicate]

How do I put a decorative separator (like three asterisks or other symbols) in a text document so as to separate two sections of text, but not in a way that depends on LateX \section commands?

Such symbols used to be relatively common in books, but seem less common now.

NOTE: The proposed duplicate says "I would like to use a symbol", and the answers mostly reflect that. But I don't care if the decorative separator is a single symbol; in fact, it is better if it isn't. So, this question is more general than that one.

First option using memoir class

The memoir class provides the \plainbreak and \fancybreak commands for this purpose (see the manual, texdoc memoir, pp. 99-101). There is also a \plainfancybreak command that will omit the fancy symbols if the break occurs at the top of a page.

\documentclass{memoir}
\usepackage{lipsum}

\newcommand{\starbreak}{%
\fancybreak{* * *}%
}

\begin{document}
\lipsum[1]

\plainbreak{2}

\lipsum[2]

\starbreak

\lipsum[3]

\end{document}


Second option for any class

To add to @Boris's answer, you can use the psvectorian package to access many beautiful ornaments that are well suited to this purpose.

Here I define two commands: the first just puts ornaments as a break in the text; the second puts a header text plus ornaments.

The psvectorian package allows you to include beautiful PostScript illustrations, which are listed by number in the documentation (texdoc psvectorian, in French but the examples are in LaTeX). The basic command is \psvectorian[width=1em]{2} where the {2} specifies that you want image 2 as listed in the documentation.

You can either include them directly as in this example (which, because it uses PostScript, must be compiled with latex -> dvips -> ps2pdf, not with pdflatex). Or you can compile the graphics separately (e.g., using the standalone package) and just use \includegraphics from the graphicx package to include them.

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{lipsum}
\usepackage{psvectorian}

\newcommand{\ornamentleft}{%
\psvectorian[width=2em]{2}%
}
\newcommand{\ornamentright}{%
\psvectorian[width=2em,mirror]{2}%
}
\newcommand{\ornamentbreak}{%
\begin{center}
\end{center}%
}
\begin{center}
\ornamentleft
\ornamentright
\end{center}%
}

\begin{document}

\section{First section}

\lipsum[1]

\ornamentbreak

\lipsum[2]

\lipsum[3]

\end{document}


• The problem with this is that TeX sees a feasible page break point before the ornament. – egreg Apr 6 '15 at 16:29
• @egreg Wouldn't that be a good thing? – musarithmia Apr 6 '15 at 16:40
• No, the ornament should not go at the top of a page. – egreg Apr 6 '15 at 16:42
• @egreg Oh, I see; that's true for the ornament-only break. The text-plus-ornament break seems to me just like another header, which can move to the top of the page. memoir includes a \plainfancybreak command just to avoid that problem. – musarithmia Apr 6 '15 at 16:47
• @egreg Is there an easy workaround? – Manuel Apr 6 '15 at 17:03

Most people just put some nice symbols in a center environment, like this:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{lipsum}
\pagestyle{empty}
\begin{document}
\lipsum$1$
\begin{center}
$\ast$~$\ast$~$\ast$
\end{center}
\lipsum$2$
\begin{center}
$\clubsuit$~$\clubsuit$~$\clubsuit$
\end{center}
\lipsum$3$
\end{document}][1]


there are two tugboat articles that deal with ornaments that can be used as separators in a way that is not tied to sectioning.