1 Topic

w9 – online writing in latex

One of the deliverables of the project is a scientific paper. Obviously, the content of your paper matters: it should follow the usual standards of objectivity, precision and clarity of any science report. But apart from the content, there is also the form. Most — if not all — scientific journals accept papers in LaTeX format.

Installing and using a text editor that can deal with LaTeX is not for everybody straightforward. It can be much more convenient to us a cloud-based editor, where all required packages and templates are flawlessly pre-installed. Moreover, such online editors often offer the benefit of working with multiple authors on the same document. Sometimes even for free.

One of these online LaTeX editors is Overleaf. It is free for personal use (limited to two people working on the same document, multiple collaborators requires a paid plan). With the following steps, you can write your own documents in LaTeX right away:

  • Make an account at Overleaf, and log in.
  • Click the ‘new project’ button, and select ‘Academic Journal’.
  • Click on the button for the APS template (these are templates of the American Physical Society journals)
  • Click the visual (large thumbnail) of the APS template.
  • Select ‘Open as Template’.
  • You see now 3 panels: file information at the left, the actual LaTeX codes at the center, and the compiled document at the right. Right-click on the file name at the left to rename it as you wish (keep the *.tex extension).
  • In the central panel, search the \title{…} and \author{…} fields. Make some changes there: insert a title of your choice, and insert your name.
  • Click the ‘recompile’ button at the top of the right panel. You see the final file appearing at the right.
  • You can now play with the central panel, removing, modifying or adding items. Every time you recompile, you’ll see the results at the right. If you make syntax mistakes, there will be error messages at the right.
  • By the ‘download’ button on top of the right panel, you can download the pdf to your computer.
  • By the ‘menu’ icon at the top left, you can download the same pdf file too, and also a zipped file of all files needed to build the pdf. If you store these on your local computer, you can pass them on to someone else who can upload this file in his/her Overleaf account to continue working on your document. (For real-time collaborative work on the same document, you need a paid account.)

There are many resources online to learn more LaTeX commands, such as this short online guide, another one, or the original book from the LaTeX developer Leslie Lamport (a book with cult status, half of the world learned LaTeX this way).

Feel free to explore other (online) LaTeX editors, and pick the one that feels most comfortable to you. A non-exhaustive list is:

  • Overleaf (free for collaborative writing up to 2 people, paid plan for more)
  • Papeeria (one project with unlimited collaborative writing for free)
  • Authorea (three projects with unlimited collaborative writing for free)
Scroll to Top