Using LyX For DTP


I am not a LaTeX guru. I am not a TeX guru. I am not even a LyX guru. Therefore, there are likely to be portions in this document at which a guru will cringe, groan and rant over (indeed, I have already been told I am an arrogant pretentious so-and-so by one such person). I am temporarily putting this page back up until such time as I can rewrite it, but until then, please note that this document contains things which may not be the "best" way of doing things, or statements which proclaim my ignorance of esoteric LaTeX/TeX methods, but what is here does work.


Prompted by a query from a fellow LyX-er who volunteered to do a club newsletter, I thought I'd share my findings and experiences of the joys and pitfalls of using LyX to produce a magazine-like publication.

A magazine is quite different to the default uses that LyX gets put to; it isn't an article for a journal, nor is it a technical manual. Therefore I had to resort to learning a bit of LaTeX and dotting ERT here and there. I even wrote myself a class! (Actually, three of them) But this is all done from a LyX perspective, not from a LaTeX one: the LaTeX I learned was bits and pieces. Others may not need to do half the ERT I did, because their needs won't be quite the same as I had for my fiction magazine. (Well, it's a fanzine, not anything professional!)

What I needed:

  1. a mixture of one and two-column format
  2. table of contents and title together on the first page
  3. lots of included graphics which were bitmap rather than vector graphics (illustrations, not diagrams)
  4. said pictures needed to be varying sizes and placed where I wanted
  5. fancy page headers and footers
  6. a compact format, fitting in a fair amount of text while still looking good
  7. Story titles without "Chapter" naming or numbers
  8. non-standard table of contents (Story-Title by Author)
  9. Story titles in fancy fonts
  10. Story titles as images
  11. Poetry in calligraphic font
  12. fancy scene-separators in stories
  13. produce a list of illustrations, by illustrator
  14. to be able to produce good PDF format
  15. to be able to produce PDF format in small enough chunks to be downloaded from a web page

The solutions I found are probably quite inelegant, but they worked well enough. See the result with the Staked Blake fanzine.

I was using RedHat 7.1 Linux, with the standard teTeX installation which comes with that. When I started I was using LyX 1.1.6fix1, but upgraded to version 1.1.6fix2.

The Solutions

A mixture of one and two-column format

My first attempt was to use \twocolumn and \onecolumn, since I wanted one-column pages for the table of contents and editorial, and two-column pages for the stories. I wanted the story titles to be the whole width of the page, and I thought I could do that by making them a wide float. Unfortunately, even with the H option of the "float" package, all I ended up with was the title at the top of the next page, or no title at all.

So I used the multicol package. This requires the use of ERT at the start end end of each group of two-columns, but it worked.

Of course, as fate would have it, later I found out that \twocolumn has an optional argument that might have solved my problem... So I then used that instead, making my own environment which used \twocolumn and passed on its argument as the first argument to \twocolumn. The reason I made my own environment was because I didn't like the way that \twocolumn broke up the words, it was too \fussy. I preferred the level of hyphenation that multicol had, so I checked what it did, and put a \tolerance5000 into my \fztwocolumn environment, so that I could have my cake and eat it too.

Depending on the particular layout required, either one of the above solutions is useful. The multicol package is useful when I need a mixture of one- and two-column output on the same page. The downside of multicol is that one can't use non-wide floats, which is a problem for the placement of illustrations that are only the width of a column. So if I can, I prefer to use twcolumn.

Table of contents and title together on the first page

I originally was using the report document class (and as I said, ended up writing my own class) but that put the table of contents on a separate page of its own, so I ended up making my "fanzine" class based on the "article" class instead.

This is the start of my fanzine.cls file:

\NeedsTeXFormat{LaTeX2e} \ProvidesClass{fanzine}[2001/06/03 Fanzine customization package : Kathryn Andersen] %% %% based on Article %% I chose Article because Chapters in reports %% always started on a new page. %% Even the table of contents. %% %% Force this to be two-sided ten point. \DeclareOption{oneside}{\OptionNotNeeded} \DeclareOption{11pt}{\OptionNotNeeded} \DeclareOption{12pt}{\OptionNotNeeded} \DeclareOption{\PassOptionsToClass{\CurrentOption}{article}}% \ProcessOptions \LoadClass[10pt,twoside]{article}

(so I'm basically forcing it to be 10pt and two-sided)

Lots of included graphics which were bitmap rather than vector graphics (illustrations, not diagrams)

So of course one needs to use the graphics package.

If using bitmap graphics, it's best to have them in jpg and/or png format (though if you aren't producing PDF it may be moot). Keep the jpg and png files in the same directory as your lyx files, and produce eps files from the originals. That way you can see your picture in LyX, which you wouldn't be able to do if you used the "include external materials" command.

I used gimp to produce the EPS files from the png files. One can also use the "convert" program from the ImageMagick suite, but the EPS files you get using that are bigger than the ones from GIMP (well at least, from Gimp 1.2.1 which is what I'm using)

For the Jpeg files, there's a program one can download from CTAN called jpeg2ps, which gives you a much better result for your EPS files than convert does; it takes advantage of the fact that Level 2 Postscript understands about Jpeg, and keeps your jpeg info intact, merely adding extra info to help Postscript understand it. This results in much smaller EPS files. (If you are a Debian user, you can just use apt-get to install jpeg2ps)

Also, because these are illustrations, not figures, I had to figure out (no pun intended) how to not have those wretched Figure: captions on them. It wasn't that difficult:

  1. include float
    You then get that Figure: thing inside the float box
  2. the style box has Caption in it. Change that to Standard. The "Figure:" bit dissappears!

Then you can include your "figure".

Pictures of varying sizes and placed where I wanted

This is actually two problems. The first problem was that pictures would go onto float pages by themselves when I didn't want them to; they'd be displaced if they were anything bigger than 50% of the page length!

So this is what went in my class file:

%% fix up float positioning %% -- enable pictures to be at the bottom of the page %% -- enable pictures to take up more space without being %% floated to their own float page \renewcommand{\topfraction}{.95} \renewcommand{\dbltopfraction}{.95} \renewcommand{\bottomfraction}{.7} \renewcommand{\textfraction}{.05} \renewcommand{\floatpagefraction}{.8} \renewcommand{\dbltopfraction}{.95} \renewcommand{\dblfloatpagefraction}{.8}

This basically means that a picture won't be stuck on a float-page unless it's 80% of the page height.

The other factor was, with my original layout, I was able to make pictures, say, be 2/3 of the page width and have the text wrap around them. In two columns.

Unfortunately, I have not found a way to do it with LyX/LaTeX.

The floatflt package does allow text to wrap around your figures, but with limitations. There are also limitations imposed by the multicol package as well. So with your figures you have three choices:

a) Use a wide figure float, making it the width of the page. You can make the actual picture smaller than the width of the page, but it will then have white space around it, which can look okay so long as there isn't too much of it.

b) use a non-floating figure inserted into the text directly, which is exactly the width of the column. This means you have to position it yourself, it won't be nicely floated for you. Unfortunately, the multicol package won't allow you to have non-wide floats. If you put them in, they never appear in the output. If you use \twocolumn rather than multicol, this isn't a problem, you can use non-wide floats.

c) figures wider than a column and less wide than a page, can have text wrapped around them (use the floatflt package) if you are in one-column mode. So, again, this requires you to work things out for yourself, so you can decide when to switch from two-column to one-column mode (and back again). Again, losing the advantage of letting LaTeX do the work for you. But sometimes ya gotta...

Fancy page headers and footers

I used the fancyhdr package. I never did end up putting graphical objects around my page-numbers though.

Read the documentation for the fancyhdr package, it's got a lot of info about page layout.

A compact format, fitting in a fair amount of text while still looking good

In the Document Layout, I used the geometry package, set narrow margins, and made the header and footer space smaller as well.

One wierd thing, though: I set the Left margin to be 2.5cm, and the Right margin to be 1.7cm... and when I get the result, the inner margin is 3cm wide, and the outer margin is 1cm wide. It isn't an odd offset thing, because it happens on both odd and even pages. That is, on an odd page, the left margin is 3cm and the right margin is 1cm, and on an even page, the left margin is 1cm and the right margin is 3cm. I have no idea why it did that.

In regard to the columns, I've found in the past, that making a 6mm gap between the two columns makes it more readable (I don't know what the default is with LaTeX, but I've found other programs make it too narrow).

%% multi-columns \setlength{\columnsep}{6mm}

Story titles without "Chapter" naming or numbers

Document Layout -> Extra
Section number depth -2
Table of contents depth 2

(I actually made myself a lyx layout class for Fanzine which set this as a default).

That was only one half of the solution: I still had to change the definitions of sectioning commands so that it wasn't trying to put things like "Chapter" on there. For this I used the titlesec package (other packages I tried first didn't quite do) with the [nops] option (because I was using the fancyhdr package for the page headers and footers).

Here's the section from fanzine.cls:

(assuming I have earlier defined the \fzhdrfamily for using a fancy font, see below)

%% Section -- no label, centred block in the header font \titleformat{\section}[block] {\fzhdrfamily\Huge\bfseries\filcenter}{}{0pt}{} \titlespacing{\section}{0pt}{1pt}{2pt} %% SubSection -- no label, centred block in the header font \titleformat{\subsection}[block] {\fzhdrfamily\Large\bfseries\filcenter}{}{0pt}{} \titlespacing{\subsection}{0pt}{5pt}{2pt}

Non-standard table of contents (Story-Title by Author)

After trying a few different things out, I used the titletoc package (rather than the tocloft package) because it gave more control over things.

This was how I defined my Section and SubSection table-of-contents entries:

%% Section TOC -- no label, no indent, line of dots \titlecontents{section}[0pt]{} {} {\hspace{2.3em}} {\bfseries\titlerule[5pt]{.}\contentspage}

%% SubSection TOC -- no label, line of dots \titlecontents{subsection}[1.5em]{} {} {\hspace{2.3em}} {\bfseries\titlerule[5pt]{.}\contentspage}

The other thing was, I wanted things in the table-of-contents that weren't in the actual header; rather than having just the title, I wanted the title and author. So I made some new commands of my own:

% format the TOC entry \newcommand{\sbtocentry}[2]{% {\bfseries #1} by \textsc{#2} }

% add story to TOC \newcommand\sbaddplainstory[2]{ \thispagestyle{plain}% force first page to have no header \section[{\sbtocentry{#1}{#2}}]{#1} % "short" form has Title + Author, "long" form has Title only \chead{\large\texthdr{#1}}% set the header at the same time }

(\texthdr was defined to use one of the fancy fonts, to be used in page headers and footers, see below)

Story titles in fancy fonts

I have alluded above as to how I put the fancy fonts into the section definitions.

That was the easy part -- relatively easy, that is. But I did that second. The first part was getting the fancy fonts. A saga. All I can say is, even though one is supposed to be able to use TrueType fonts with TeX, I couldn't get it to work. X-Windows had no problem with them, Ghostscript had no problem with them -- all I had to do was tell them what directories to look in, and construct one simple file (which I ended up writing a small script to do)... but TeX! In the end I gave up and converted selected fonts into Type1 (Postscript) fonts, and used vfontinstall (which I can't remember how I tracked down, actually) to install the resultant fonts.

In tracking down How-To-Install-Fonts-Into-TeX information, I was mightily confused by the seemingly constant reference to the program ttf2tfm -- which didn't exist on my system. It apparently comes with MikTex, but I have teTeX... which doesn't have it. It wasn't until a friend pointed out that the beauty of Unix is pipes... yes, there are indeed two commands which teTeX has, which if added together, do the same thing as ttf2tfm: ttf2afm + afm2tfm

What I've actually ended up with is a bit of a hybrid: Ghostscript knows about the TrueType fonts, but TeX knows about the Type1 fonts which were constructed from them. (after all, they're already installed in my system, X-Windows knows about them, and Ghostscript (once I created the relevant Fontmap file) knows about them already, so why install the converted Type1 fonts again?)

Strangely enough, it seems to work.

There's an article on CTAN about How-To-Use-True-Type-Fonts-With-Tex (which is really about How-To-Convert-True-Type-Fonts-And-Install-Them) which was helpful, but I only did the first part, the conversion. I can't remember where I tracked down the actual program used, sorry. But CTAN is a good place to start. And to do searches.

The actual installation I did with vfontinstall (aka vfontinst) which is a godsend for the quite complicated process of installing fonts into TeX -- considering the demand that one rename all the files to fit with Berry's font naming conventions... (a point slightly moot for me, since (a) I'm not planning on exchanging LaTeX source with anyone, just PDF files and (b) a lot of the fancy fonts I use are non-standard anyway)

However, vfontinst is still worth it, because, besides renaming the font files for you, it creates the various different files, and moves them into the right spots as well. I had to change some of the things it did (fortunately it builds scripts do do each step of the process, so you can change them before you call them) -- for example, make it do a separate file for the font information rather than modifying the psfonts file.

Fonts require research...

Story titles as images

What I wanted here was to be able to use a graphic instead of a title, for the actual story-title, but still have it appear sensibly in the table of contents. This was so that I could use interesting effects in my graphics program (Gimp) and also not have to install every single TrueType font I had into TeX; if I was only using that particular font once, for one title, it was not worth the effort (particularly as some fonts simply wouldn't convert -- X-Windows liked them, but the conversions didn't).

This was a big challenge. I had to resort to a large amount of ERT, rather than being able to use Section or Figure commands from LyX. I ended up making my own command, as follows, with three arguments -- the title, the author, and the name of the file containing the title-graphic. (And yes, there were two versions of the file -- the EPS file and the PNG file)

This was the command:

\newcommand\sbaddstory[3]{ \thispagestyle{plain}% no page header first page \section[{\sbtocentry{#1}{#2}}]% the "short form" has the info {\resizebox{1\textwidth}{!}{\includegraphics{#3}} }% % the "long form" has the graphic \chead{\large\texthdr{#1}}% set the page header with the title }

I figured out what commands to use for the graphic by the expedient of making a test file in LyX which had the graphic the way I wanted it, and then exporting to LaTeX and seeing what the commands were. Not having a copy of the LaTeX book at the time, that was what I was reduced to...

Oh, and I forgot to mention, each story was in a separate file, and included in a master file; therefore each new story started on a new page.

Poetry in calligraphic font

First I had to import the caligraphic font (see above). The Berry font name for this particular font ended up being "ome".

Then more ERT and more commands.

%% Fonts for poems -- Merlin font \newcommand\fzpoemfamily{\usefont{T1}{ome}{m}{n}} \DeclareTextFontCommand{\textpoem}{\fzpoemfamily}

%% a Poem environment %% the argument is the size of the font \newenvironment{fzpoem}[1] {\fzpoemfamily #1} {} %% a Poem title \DeclareTextFontCommand{\fzpoemtitle} {\fzpoemfamily \Huge}

So, for the poem title I did ERT saying


(and more ERT adding it to the table of contents (there was another command I had which was similar to the addplainstory one))

and then I did the poem in a Verse environment, and surrounded it with ERT saying
\begin{fzpoem} and \end{fzpoem}

That gave me the poem in the caligraphic font (with its title in the same font, rather than in the fancy Section-header font).

I have since discovered (thanks to Lyx Quickstart) that one can (a) make a new environment recognisable by adding it to your .layout file (though it seems that they have to be environments which don't have any arguments) and (b) can change the font style using a pseudocolour character style on the characters. Both these techniques have been added to my current class/layout files. (see below for links to the source). For the environment, I made a new fzpoemverse environment which was just an fzpoem environment which also used a Verse environment (since LyX doesn't seem to be able to nest environments without using ERT).

Fancy scene-separators in stories

After all the messing about with fonts, this was relatively easy. I just had to figure out what the name of the Zaph Dingbat font was, and create the following commands:

% commands to select the Zaph Dingbat font \newcommand\fzdingbatfamily{\usefont{U}{pzd}{m}{n}} \DeclareTextFontCommand{\fzdingbat}{\fzdingbatfamily}

% generic separator \newcommand{\fzsep}[1]{ \medskip{} {\centering \large\fzdingbat{#1}\par} \medskip{} }

% large separator, laid out like a cross \newcommand{\fzseplarge}[1]{ \medskip{} {\centering \large\fzdingbat{#1}\par} {\centering \large\fzdingbat{#1#1#1}\par} {\centering \large\fzdingbat{#1}\par} \medskip{} }

Then one just had to decide which dingbat character to use as one's separator. I made it generic because I have two different fanzines that I do, and they have different styles of separator.

This is what I did for Staked Blake (the "v" gives a crossed diamond):

\newcommand{\sbsep}{ \fzsep{v} } \newcommand{\sbsepwide}{ \fzsep{vvv} } \newcommand{\sbseplarge}{ \fzseplarge{v} }

There's two ways of using these; one is to use ERT at each scene break, for example
The other is to add a Separator "style" or three to your Layout file for that particular class. For example:

Style FZSeparator LatexType Command LatexName fzsep Margin Dynamic ParSkip 0.4 TopSep 0.7 BottomSep 0.7 ParSep 0.7 LabelType No_Label Align Center AlignPossible Center

Font Series Bold Size Large EndFont End

See the layout files below for all the examples. With the FZSeparator style, you type in the characters you're going to use for the separators. For the Refractions and Staked Blake Separator styles, you don't type in anything, so they are slightly different.

Produce a list of illustrations, by illustrator

What I used to do (before LyX) was create this by hand -- I would print out a version of the document, and make note of what page each illustration was on, and then go back and write it into the table of illustrators.

With LyX, I can use cross-references! Put a label next to each illustration. Then, on the first page, create a table with two columns, one containing the name of the illustrator, and the second column in that row, containing Page references to the particular illustrations that that person did. No tedious page-number-noting required!

This is one bit where LyX is definitely a plus.

To be able to produce good PDF format

Firstly, use the pslatex package, so that your default fonts are the same as the PDF default fonts (that is, Times, Helvetica, Courier, rather than Computer Modern). Also, Zaph Dingbats are standard for PDF, so if you want to use dingbats for something (like separators), use those.

If you want to use extra fancy fonts, make sure that they are Type1 fonts, not Metafont. Even though Metafont is standard for TeX, it doesn't convert well into PDF.

Secondly, if one is going to use pdflatex, then have two versions of each illustration (as mentioned above); one in either JPG or PNG, and the other in EPS format. Now some people might point out that it would be easier to use the tex2pdf script (which is on Sourceforge, I think) which automatically converts the EPS files into PDF files which can be included into the produced PDF file. I have two reasons for not doing this: the most important one was that all my greyscale pictures got scrambled when I did this. The second reason is that if the original file is a bitmap JPG or PNG, then it's better to include the original file than to do too many conversions. But those who are using vector graphics would probably prefer another method.

As has been pointed out before, there is a bug with Ghostscript 5.50 which means that ps2pdf puts bitmap fonts rather than outline fonts into the PDF file, which makes it bigger and uglier. Unfortunately, 5.50 is the version which comes standard with RedHat 7.1 (sigh). So I tracked down an RPM (I'm using RedHat, remember) of a more recent version of Ghostscript, on and found one for version 6.50 (actually, I also found one for version 6.0, but I had trouble installing it). Of course, this isn't so much of a problem now, since most current distros have moved beyond that old version of Ghostscript, but I thought it was still worth mentioning, since some people may still have old distros.

To be able to produce PDF format in small enough chunks to be downloaded from a web page

The output produced by pdflatex with the hyperref package is very nice, with bookmarks and links from the table of contents... but with my fanzine, the resultant file was 3.7M! And compressing the file wouldn't reduce it very much.

I could have split the file with "split" I suppose, but that wouldn't give people workable files (and not everyone would be able to figure out how to put the bits back together again, either).

What I did with my original publication (when I used MS Publisher) was that I had the whole publication split into multiple files (each one with its starting page-number set by hand) and I would produce a PDF file from each separate file.

Unfortunately, with LyX/LaTeX you can't do that, because the document and all its included files has to be treated as a whole, or the page-numbering won't be correct.

But there's a way around this limitation, if one doesn't mind producing PDF files without any bookmarks or linking: print the document to a file, a certain number of pages at a time. The LyX print dialogue allows you to print to a file (which will be a Postscript file), and select the page-range you want to print.

So I printed it out, 20 pages at a time, and produced a number of Postscript files. Then I ran ps2pdf over the Postscript files. Voila! The whole document, in smaller, palatable chunks.

Fancy Borders around things

There is a package on CTAN called "niceframe" which does the trick. It uses characters from a few dingbat-type fonts to define some fancy frames, and a command, "generalframe" where you can go off and define more frames (you just have to tell it what characters to use for the sides and corners). It includes a few dingbat fonts in the bundle, and one of them is just nothing but border characters -- very nice!

Some words of warning, though:

  • you will get errors complaining that \ding has already been defined. This is because pifont.sty (a standard sty file in teTex) defines \ding as a command, but niceframe has defined it as a font. Edit the niceframe.sty (and/or the niceframe.dtx file) to change \ding to \dingfont everywhere, and that will fix it.
  • because the dingbat fonts are metafonts, they will be included in your PDF files as bitmaps. Either make sure that your dvips setup gives you sufficiently high resolution bitmapping (or the frames will look horribly jaggy when printed out) or find some way of converting them to Type1 fonts.
  • it goes without saying that the thing with the border around it needs to be less than a page...
  • this also only works when in one-column format

Fancy Borders by using included images

I also wanted to be able to use an image for a fancy border; to include an image (a graphic file) which is a border image (that is, is has nice things all around the edges, and is empty in the middle) and be able to plonk something (like a poem, for example) in the middle of it.

One possible solution is to include it as part of a "picture" environment, while telling LaTeX that this picture takes up zero space. So, say a border around a whole page, like this:

\setlength{\unitlength}{\textheight} \begin{picture}(0,0) \put(0,-1){

(include your picture here)

} \end{picture}

(followed by the text to be bordered)

Setting the unitlength to the height of the page means you don't have to be calculating the height of the page in order to figure out where the Y position of the bottom left-hand-corner of the border picture is, though you may have to adjust the thing slightly, like \put(-0.05, 0.95) for example. Then you include your picture, making it 100% of the page height.

Then the next tricky bit is positioning the text to be included inside the border -- you will need to put in a vertical space above the first line of the text which is the length of the top of the border, and indent the text the width of the side of the border. You can do this with the Layout->Paragraph window; the Vertical Space Above, make it Length, and give a length. Then in the Extra tab, give the paragraph(s) an indent of some length.

Problem with Times font and PDF

I ran into an unfortunate problem with my font usage, when I was attempting to give my resultant PDF files to my agent overseas to print out. The files had been created with Times (the Postscript Times font that comes with TeX). Acrobat does not store Times, Helvetica or Courier fonts, as we well know. But this was unfortunate in this case, because my agent was reading the file with Times New Roman, which is very slightly different -- different enough that the kerning of the letters was inconsistent, and looked quite odd if one was paying attention. So, after all the effort of using pslatex and so on... I ended up not using Times after all, so as to force the inclusion of the font I used, so that it would look the same for my agent and for me.

I ended up using Utopia. The files generated weren't actually all that much larger, presumably because embedding an outline font doesn't take up huge amounts of space (unlike embedding a bitmap font).


I actually ended up doing the cover as a separate document, because I wanted different page margins for it. I used the "scalefont" package to do the title on the cover and on the first page (since those fancy fonts were already installed, and outlines do look better than bitmaps).

Here are links to my source files:

  • Attach:fanzine_cls.txt The base class for fanzines which does all the work
  • Attach:fanzine_layout.txt The LyX layout file for fanzines -- the other layout files #include this one.
  • Attach:stakedb7_cls.txt The class built on fanzine.cls which was used for Staked Blake.
  • Attach:stakedb7_layout.txt The LyX layout file for Staked Blake
  • Attach:refract_cls.txt The class built on fanzine.cls for Refractions (note that this only defines separators -- 99% of the work is done in fanzine.cls). I split it up this way because I have different fanzines which need to look different, but have a lot of common needs.
  • Attach:refract_layout.txt The LyX layout file for Refractions
  • Attach:fzframes_sty.txt This is a style sheet built on the niceframes.sty style sheet, which uses it, and the fonts which come with niceframes to define an exhaustive collection of frames (so that one doesn't have to go through all those fonts picking out characters more than once).

Well, I hope that this long rambling thing has been helpful to somebody.

Kathryn Andersen

Even more!

Problem with pdflatex, running into TeX capacity exceeded problem, when ordinary latex was fine. Found this useful tip at the pdftex mailing list.