I am taking up a task for typing an old text which is over 1200 pages. I am attaching a sample page. I am new to TeX, I still did not get the hang to create a good structure so that it will give me the flexibility to change appearance with ease, if required.

for example if I want to change the verse properties (size, color, font etc) then I should be able to make change at one place and make it reflect on all the verses.

Sorry for asking a generic question but I do not want to add hours of labor to implement a small change across the 1200 page book. So thought before I begin my project I would seek expert advice from this forum.

I am attaching a screenshot with some comments and suggestions, Thanks for your help enter image description here

  • 4
    @egreg makes some good suggestions on about it in Consistent typography. – Werner Oct 3 '11 at 18:07
  • Thanks for asking this question. I also plan to typeset a book or two in Sanskrit; I may post an answer when/if I ever get to it. You may also consider using XeLaTeX, as illustrated for Sanskrit in some posts here: cikitsa.blogspot.com/search/label/TeX – ShreevatsaR Oct 7 '11 at 10:32
  • @ShreevatsaR i am using XeLaTeX for typing this. I can type and create a simple PDF, what I want to learn is how to create a book with many fonts/size so that I increase the readability. But I wanted to create all the desired fonts I want to work with in the preamble so that later if any change to be made then I can change in the preamble and incorporate all the changes in the book at once. – Aku Oct 7 '11 at 12:37

To get a good sense of how TeX, LaTeX, and friends can help you separate broad formatting decisions from content for large and complex documents (such as books), I would recommend you first read the document A Few Notes on Book Design by Peter Wilson. The author is also the creator of the memoir document class for LaTeX, which may be of use to your project. The "Notes on Book Design" document will help you make some basic decisions regarding the title page and other front matter, the layout of pages at the start and within the body of each chapter, ratios of text-width to text-height on the physical sheets of paper, the choice of header and footer lines (if any), the page numbering style, etc

Second, it appears to be the case (judging from your screenshot, at least) that there is a lot (over 1000 pages) of "ordinary text"; for this, you'll have to make basic decisions regarding the font size, linewidth, distance between successive lines, the amount that the first line of each paragraph should be indented by, etc. In addition, there seem to be about 700 cases of "verses" (each line to be set centered, correct?), most (or all?) of which are preceded by some text (of explanatory nature?) that would appear to have to be typeset fully justified. For these 700 cases, your main concerns should likely be (i) how to offset the special text/verse groups visually from the surrounding text? (vertical whitespace, left and right indentation, different font family, different font size, ...) and (ii) do you (or do you not) permit page breaks between the introductory part and the corresponding stanza?

In addition, you should probably plan ahead for such things as the creation of an index and instances of non-Sanskrit fonts -- most likely in the introduction and when creating references to the secondary literature (which font, font size, line width, line spacing, etc.)

These are but a few of the concerns, but probably among the major ones, you'll need to sort out before you spend significant time actually getting the document entered into an electronic format.


  1. For Sanskrit fonts, you may already have some specific font(s) in mind. It may be useful to consult this webpage of the University of Chicago's South Asia Language Resource Center. Other people may have further suggestions for fonts that may be suitable for your project.
  2. To typeset a LaTeX document with fonts stored in .ttf (TrueType) and .otf (OpenType) format, it's necessary to use the xetex "engine" (or the luatex engine) instead of the widely used pdftex engine. The change-over costs from pdflatex to xelatex are not that high, fortunately. From a user perspective, the main change is that one has to load the fontspec package (current version: 2.2a) and then use that package's \setmainfont and related commands to set up fonts. I suggest you study this package's manual carefully, esp section 10.18 on "OpenType scripts and languages." (Hopefully, other members of this group with more practical experience in this field will be able to provide further advice.)
  • 1
    Looks more like sanskrit than Thai to me ;-) – ℝaphink Oct 4 '11 at 5:55
  • @mico - It is Sanskrit, this is an ancient text which is available in few hardbound books I am thinking to typeset it and make it available on the internet. Verse need to be centered, verses should not break on two pages, they must always be together, fontsizes are almost same in the book however I want to introduce various font sizes to show distinction between verse, its preceding few lines. I don't know much about working with different font sizes. Thats why I asked here, your answer gave me some insights, I will read more about Peter Wilson'sbook. – Aku Oct 4 '11 at 13:30
  • Thanks for the additional explanations about the font. I've provided an addendum to my answer in which I mention a website that provides links to freely downloadable sanskrit fonts. – Mico Oct 4 '11 at 14:25
  • @Mico- Thanks for your answer, These fonts are really a great help, because I just have only Sanskrit 2003. I was wondering if you can tell me how can I set up different fonts to work with at the beginning of my work, if you can point me to an example that would be of great help. – Aku Oct 4 '11 at 15:07
  • I'm afraid I have no personal experience whatsoever with typesetting a document that uses sanskrit fonts. I've provided an additional addendum to discuss how one would use xelatex (instead of "regular" pdflatex) to freely use fonts in ttf and otf format that are on one's computer system. Hope that helps. – Mico Oct 4 '11 at 15:50

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