Hugo Ledoux

associate-prof in 3D geoinformation at TU Delft
blog contact protégés publications research slides software

The Rules for happily collaborating on a LaTeX document

When it comes to writing my papers, I must admit that I prefer LaTeX over that-other-ubiquitous-software-that-I’d-rather-not-mention. Prefer is an understatement here: I would probably do anything to avoid writing a paper with the other software, eg spending hours harrasing the editor of the journal/conference so that she accepts LaTeX, spending one full day fighting with one of the many converters even if I know they don’t really work1, or asking one of my students to do it for me.

So when I can choose, I always impose LaTeX on my co-authors. Since some of them are users of the other software, that often creates friction and someone ends up fixing manually all the “mistakes” and inconsistencies in the file.

So I propose here The Rules for happily collaborating on a LaTeX document©, a set of 10 rules that: (1) novices can easily apply; (2) will make your co-authors happy.

Please add new Rules in the comments below.

1. You shall use only one sentence per line

And use one empty line to start a new paragraph. It’ll then be easier to track changes in a versioning system such as SVN or Git since these are line-based.

I like to create buffers in ArcGIS.
But it is not always possible as it often crashes.

Also, ...

2. You shall use natbib for citations

and the commands \citet{} (cite in the text as a noun) \citep{} (cite between parentheses).

\citet{Smith00} succeeded in creating a buffer.
However, it has been shown that it is not an easy task~\citep{Brown90}.

3. You shall prevent breaking lines with “~” when referencing and citing

In Section~\ref{sec:intro}, we can observe that the buffer was a success~\citep{Smith99}.

4. You shall use one - for an hyphen, two -- for a range between numbers, and three --- for a punctuation in a sentence

I like---unlike my father---to build multi-dimensional models, 
especially those made in 1990--1995.

5. You shall give meaningful labels

A figure’s label should start with fig: and a section’s label with sec:


In recent years, buffers have been rather complex to implement because ...

6. You shall put a short space after e.g. and i.e. with the use of a backslash

The following two commands shall thus be used:

Buffers can be generated on different geometries, \eg\ points, polylines and polygons.

7. You shall put all figures/graphs in a single subfolder (figs/)

And you shall put the source file (eg IPE, OmniGraffle, Illustrator, etc.) there as well for future use.

8. In your BibTeX file, you shall use curly brackets for words/letters you want to have capitalised in the title

The other fields are not affected by this. LaTeX does this to uniformise the capitalisation in all citations.

  Author = {Smith, John},
  Journal = {The GIS Journal},
  Title = {The {3D} {CityGML} building was constructed with the {Delaunay} triangulation},
  Year = {2001},

9. You shall not add any commands to change the format until the the paper is finished

\vspace and \newpage are thus forbidden.

10. You shall declare all sizes relative to \linewidth.

So that the paper can be switched to a 2-column one without (too much) pain.

  1. in all fairness, they work great if your paper has no figures and no mathematical equations 

RSSCreative Commons License