BrailleMaster Resource Page

Braille Formatting

It is often necessary to control the output format of the Braille text from within the original text: For example to define new margins, to center lines, control page numbering, page headers, etc.

BrailleMaster allows dynamic changes of formatting parameters during translation, rather than relying on the default parameters as specified in the Control file. These dynamic changes are done using Star Commands.

Star Commands are special commands which can be included in the source text to control formatting of the resulting Braille. Certain Star Commands are used to override the default commands included in the Control File; other Star Commands can control the translation process or introduce special printing features.

Syntax of Star Commands

A Star Command always begin with an asterisk in the first position on a line, followed by a two-letter code and an optional numeric parameter.

The following Star Commands are recognized by BrailleMaster:

*PL Page Length
*MT Top Margin
*MB Bottom Margin
*LM Left Margin
*LL Line Length
*PI Paragraph Indent
*TA Tab Stop
*NL New Line
*NP New Paragraph
*BL Insert Blank Line
*PA Page Advance
*PN Set Page Number
*OP Omit Page Numbering
*PG Restore Page Numbering
*CC Print Centred Middle C's
*AS Print Three Centered Asterisks
*IB Insert Braille Code Directly
*CA Capitals On
*CO Capitals Off
*CE Centering On
*RC Release Centering
*HE Page Header
*FO Page Footer
*HM Header Margin
*FM Footer Margin
*SH Suppress Header
*SF Suppress Footer
*RH Restore Header
*RF Restore Footer
*LP Preserve Last Page
*TP Text Page Number In The Original Document
*XD Translation Disable
*XE Translation Enable
*RI Returns In - Preserve Carriage Returns
*RO Returns Out - Disregard Carriage Returns
*LR Load Rules

Note that all Star Commands must commence at the start of a line, i.e. the actual "star" must be in column one. Such a command line can have only one Star Command and nothing else. Of course, this assumes that none of your text lines would normally start with a star - otherwise such a line would be considered as an invalid Star Command.

The Star Commands are explained in greater detail as follows:

Page Length (*PL)

This command has to be followed by a number which specifies the length of the page, i.e. the total number of lines per page.

The default Page Length is 26. This corresponds to the standard size of most types of fanfold Braille paper.

Top Margin (*MT)

This command expects to be followed by the number of blank lines at the top of each Braille page. The default is zero.

Bottom Margin (*MB)

A counterpart of the previous command, this Star Command defines the number of blank lines at the bottom of each page. The default number is zero.

There is a simple relationship between the number of text lines on each page and the Top and Bottom Margins. To calculate how many actual text lines there are on a page, subtract the Top and Bottom Margin values from the Page Length, minus two (allowing for a header and a footer). For example, since the default page length is 26, and default top and bottom margins are zero, the default number of text lines per page is 24.

Left Margin (*LM)

This Star Command should be followed by a number which specifies the number of spaces to be inserted before the start of each new line. The default value for left margin is zero. Executing this command also forces a new line.

Line Length (*LL)

This command is to be followed by a number which specifies the number of characters on each line. Default value is 40.

Paragraph Indent (*PI)

A number following this command code will specify the indentation (number of spaces) at the first line of each paragraph. The default is 1. The number of indentation spaces is in addition to the left margin specified by the LM command. Executing this command also forces the start of a new paragraph.

Tab Stop (*TA)

This command is to be followed by a number specifying the horizontal distance between tab stops. The default distance is 10. The tabulation facility of BrailleMaster will be described in a greater detail later.

New Line (*NL)

This command is not followed by any number. It merely specifies that the following text should start at a new line.

New Paragraph (*NP)

Issuing this command makes sure that the next line will start a new paragraph.

Insert Blank Line (*BL)

This command may be followed by a number specifying how many blank lines should be inserted. If a parameter is omitted, a single blank line will be inserted.

Page Advance (*PA)

This Star Command instructs BrailleMaster to start the next line on a new page.

Page Number (*PN)

Normally, page numbers start with one and increase by one on each subsequent page. It could be that the embossed text is part of a larger document and the page numbering needs to start at a number other than one. This command makes it possible to override the internal page counter: The number following the command code specifies the next page number.

Omit Page Numbering (*OP)

This command disables automatic page number insertion. After this command, page numbers will not appear.

Restore Page Numbering (*PG)

After this Star Command, page numbering will start to appear from the current page.

Print Centered Middle C's (*CC)

This command will instruct BrailleMaster to output a line of 12 centered middle C's to separate sections of Braille print.

Print Three Asterisks (*AS)

This command has a similar function to the previous one: Three centered asterisks will be printed on a new line.

Insert Braille Code (*IB)

This command allows the insertion of Braille codes directly into the embossed text. The codes are entered either as sequences of dashes and asterisks, such as


for Dot 1,5,6; or simply by dot numbers. If there are more than one Braille code to be entered, they must be separated by spaces or commas.

For example the command *IB 125 15 123 123 135 outputs "hello" in English Braille. The same effect can be achieved using combinations of dashes and asterisks which simulate depressed keys on a Braille keyboard:

*IB -**-*- --*-*- ***--- ***-- *-*-*-

Note that BrailleMaster provides yet another method of inserting Braille code directly: this will be explained in greater detail in Chapter 10.

Capitals On (*CA)

Upon encountering this command, BrailleMaster will preserve lower and upper case letters of the original text. Normally, all Braille output is produced in lower case letters to conserve space required for capital signs. This command does not affect text in headers or footers: Headers and footers are always printed exactly as specified by the HE and FO commands.

Capitals Off (*CO)

This command cancels the effect of the "Capitals On" command.

Centering ON (*CE)

This command will cause the subsequent text lines to be centered on each line of the Braille document.

Release Centering (*RC)

This command cancels the effect of the "Centering On" command.

Header (*HE)

This command is used to specify a single line of text which will appear at the heading of each page. The requested heading text must be included immediately after the HE code of this Star Command.

Footer (*FO)

This command serves to specify a single line text which will appear in the footing of each page.

Both the heading and footing lines can include the page number. To include a page number, use the "#" ("hash") character where you wish the page number to be included during printing. The page number will be printed in place of the hash sign, regardless of the *OP and *PG commands.

Header Margin (*HM)

The Header Margin command specifies the number of lines between the header line and the first text line of the page. The default value of Header Margin is zero, which means that the first line will be printed immediately following the header.

Footer Margin (*FM)

This Star Command specifies the distance between the last line of text and the footer. The default distance is zero lines, which means that the footer will be printed immediately following the last text line of the page.

Suppress Header (*SH)

If this command is used, BrailleMaster will suppress the header line and use its space to fit an extra line of text on a page to conserve space. If page numbering is selected, the page number will be shown at the end of this line and the right margin will be adjusted adequately for the page number to fit.

Suppress Footer (*SF)

Similarly to the previous command, the Suppress Footer command helps to fit more Braille on a page by sacrificing the footer line.

Restore Header (*RH)

This command cancels the effect of the Suppress Header command.

Restore Footer (*RF)

This command cancels the effect of the Suppress Footer command.

Preserve Last Page (*LP)

Normally, the last page is ejected from the output device at the end of each print, even if there is just a single line on that page. This feature can be overridden using this Star Command. (If BrailleMaster was instructed to print footers at the end of each page, this command will have no effect, since BrailleMaster will consider the last page completed only after a footer has been printed at the bottom.)

Text Page Number (*TP)

This facility of BrailleMaster makes it possible to include the original text page numbers into the translated Braille. This command must be followed by a number or a short string of characters, up to 20 characters long, for example "Text Page 123".

As soon as this Star Command is encountered in the original text, the translator will insert a separating line consisting of middle C's, with the specified character string at the start of the line.

It is also possible to include the text page number string in the header or footer. This is done by including $ (dollar sign) into the *HE or *FO definitions, in the positions where you wish the text page number to appear.

Translation Disable (*XD)

This command disables contractions in currently active Braille rules by ignoring all but the last of rules for a particular character. This effectively forces Grade 1 translation. This facility is described in greater detail in Chapter 12.

Translation Enable (*XE)

This command cancels the effect of the "Translation Disable" command.

Returns In (*RI)

This command causes the translator to preserve the Carriage Returns of the original text. A new line of source text will start a new line in the resulting Braille.

Returns Out (*RO)

Cancels the effect of the previous command by going back to the default situation, when line formatting of the original text is irrelevant.

Load Rules (*LR)

This command should be followed by a valid name of a file containing Braille rules. Upon encountering this command, BrailleMaster will immediately load this new rule file into the translator. This facility enables to switch between rules within text. For example, in the following sentence "This is contracted Braille and this is uncontracted Braille.", the second occurrence of the word "Braille" will not be contracted:

This is contracted Braille and this is uncontracted

Note that inserting this Star Command into the line order of the source text will not disrupt the formatting of the resulting Braille code.

It is worth remembering that the parameter after LR does not refer directly to the required Braille code. Rather, it is a file name of a Rule File (without the extension RUL which does not have to be specified). It could be also a Rule File containing rules for different languages or special applications (math Braille).

The files used in our above example, GRADE2.RUL and GRADE1.RUL, are supplied with BrailleMaster and contain English Grade 2 and Grade 1 rules, respectively.

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