Overleaf

We usually write our papers in LaTeX on Overleaf. With your EPFL email address, you can upgrade to a professional account for free, so you can use Dropbox and GitHub integration, change tracking, private projects with invitations, and more.

Macros

When writing in LaTeX, you should make ample use of macros. Instead of typing the same commands over and over again, define a concise macro once and then reuse it. Not only will this save you time, it will also make it much easier to apply consistent changes quickly: just change the macro definition, and voilà.

Some of the macros that we end up using all the time at dlab are available in dlab_macros.tex, available here. Include this file in all your LaTeX projects by adding a line \input{dlab_macros} right after the \documentclass command. Make sure you become acquainted with the useful macros defined in that file. They will make your life easier!

How to embed fonts

Publishers (e.g., Sheridan, AAAI Press) regularly complain about fonts not being embedded properly in the camera-ready PDF. Usually PDF images are the culprits. To properly embed fonts, use the embed_fonts.sh script available here. You need to run the shell command sh embed_fonts.sh FIG.pdf once for each image (e.g., FIG.pdf) that you want to include in your paper. The script will modify the image by embedding all fonts. Then you should use the modified images for compiling your final version of the paper.

Note that you should not just run embed_fonts.sh on the full-paper PDF, but you need to run it on each image separately before making the final full-paper PDF. Otherwise you may get horrible results, with entire pages looking grainy, also when printing the paper on a physical printer.

Writing style

Jennifer Widom’s advice

A short and sweet compendium of tips for writing technical papers by Stanford’s Jennifer Widom. Before you take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and start writing a paper, revise this document. The bit about the intro has been particularly useful.

The Elements of Style

A brief masterpiece, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style is a must-read if you aim to improve your writing. A free version is available on the Internet Archive.