First ever LaTeX Ninja workshop at Harvard: “Beyond TEI: Digital Editions with XPath and XSLT for the Web and in LaTeX”

It’s been awfully quiet on this blog but actually, there’s lots of Ninja activity going on right now: I’m excited to announce that I will give the first ever official LaTeX Ninja workshop, in person at Harvard in about two weeks! It’s called “Beyond TEI: Digital Editions with XPath and XSLT for the Web and in LaTeX”. (Apart from that, there’s a short book review coming up in TUGboat.) Since there probably are a good number of people who would be interested in such a workshop but can’t attend in person, I will share the slides and teaching materials on Github later on. That way, they can be reused for self-study. This blogpost gives somewhat of an outline of the contents of the workshop and contains links to related posts on this blog. Participants might want to read some of them in preparation or as an additional resource. [Get to the github repo with all the materials (`additional resources’ directory)

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The LaTeX Newbie’s Guide to Using Overleaf for Conference Paper Submissions

Conference paper submissions in LaTeX are becoming increasingly popular in fields outside the technical disciplines (which have embraced them a long time ago already). Be that the Digital Humanities or historians wanting to contribute to events such as HistoCrypt, LaTeX templates for submission are getting more widely adopted. That’s why I wanted to dedicate this first post of 2022 to this important topic, so you are ready for LaTeX conference paper/abstract submissions in 2022! How to get started quickly and what to be aware of Find the template to use. The conference will have probably prepared a template you’re supposed to do. Since a principle behind TeX/LaTeX is the separation of form and content, you really only need to focus on writing your text. The layout will be provided by the conference organizers in said template. If this template isn’t on Overleaf yet, download it and upload it as a new project in the online LaTeX editor Overleaf. This will

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How to get started using LaTeX for academic writing? A book review of “S. Kottwitz, LaTeX Beginner’s Guide (2nd ed., Packt 2021)

Many prospective LaTeX users wonder: How do I get started? How to find my way in the jungle that learning LaTeX often seems to be to a first time user? Today I wanted to share my review of Stefan Kottwitz, LaTeX. A Beginner’s Guide (Packt 2021) with you. This book can help you find your way and get started using LaTeX after just the first chapter. Acknowledgement: I was sent a free reviewer’s copy of this book and asked to write a review about it which I happily agreed to do. Disclaimer: My book review policy Probably related to my upbringing in Germany, I don’t think a review can call itself a proper/serious review if it doesn’t contain criticism. I’m aware this is relatively different from reviews in the American style (especially on the covers of books) to just praise the book and not mention any criticism – but sadly, this also is becoming the norm in many an academic

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The most important book to read if you want to learn Digital Humanities, Computer Science, Maths, Programming or LaTeX

Today I wanted to share a tiny book review of the book I claim to be the most important book you should read if you want to learn any technical topic but are unsure if you are up for it. The book I’m talking about is not Donald Knuth (although his books are highly recommended, especially if you’re a (La)TeX nerd!). It’s not even a computer book! I’m talking about: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (New York: Random House 2006). The fixed mindset versus the growth mindset This will be a short post because Dweck’s message is simple. There are two mindsets, the ‘fixed mindset’ and the ‘growth mindset’ and which one you have greatly impacts your success in learning and self-development. The ‘fixed mindset’ assumes your abilities and talents are fixed. Thus, you are proud of what you’re good at because you link it to your personality (“I’m a person who is good at…”). But

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LaTeX for thesis writing

Having re-read my LaTeX for PhD students post, I realized I hadn’t mentioned a lot of things I would like to impart to you. So here comes LaTeX for thesis writing – a few more arguments in favour of starting to learn LaTeX now. Just to sum up what has already been said in the last post: The main points speaking in favour of you typesetting your thesis in LaTeX are the citation management, tables, maths and images which can be more of a hastle in MS Word. In the aforementioned blogpost, I also added that you should take into account that a thesis will yield two PDF outputs with very different requirements from the same document – another reason to use LaTeX. But there are many more things to take into account. LaTeX for maths, images and the like (in short, everything MS Word isn’t good at) A lot of people say that the “LaTeX is great for maths”

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Learning to program: Debugging – Where to start?

After a long hiatus, I’m back today with a post on how to develop the debugging skill. If you’re new to programming, we refer to the process of finding and solving errors in the code as “debugging”. It can be difficult to acquire this skill as a newbie when you have no idea what you should even look for. This post will help you out with a few hints. Why should I learn debugging? Most people who attend a programming class for the first time get quite the culture shock. Often, their identity had encompassed something like “good with computers”. Then they see what it’s actually like to interact with a computer as a superuser, i.e. someone who interacts with the computer not only in the way intended for users by product designers, i.e. mostly the Graphical User Interface (GUI). Often computer usage the superuser way means it’s entirely text-based (although you can learn the first steps to programming with

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“Learning LaTeX – Why should you care?” Series Part 1: Common Objections against learning LaTeX

Since some common objections why some people think learning LaTeX is not worth it or why the oppose LaTeX generally came up again in the Twitter discussion surrounding the recent post LaTeX for Philosophers? Logic and other Shenannigans, I quickly wanted to discuss the three most common objections agains LaTeX (in my experience) and why I think they’re not necessarily valid. Let’s get straight to it! 1) The “I can’t both be a good [insert job title/area of expertise here] AND spend time learning to code” aka the “LaTeX is hard to learn” objection A common argument used against LaTeX, not only in the Humanities, is “I already need all my energy being good at my job and now you want me to learn a new technology to distract me from it?”, like expressed in the following Tweet. But it’s really an extremely common one.  The argument is interesting to me because you also had to learn how to use

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LaTeX for PhD students

Today, I decided to finally publish some thoughts on why I think PhD students can profit from using LaTeX. In this post, I try to avoid common not-all-that-creative reasons and point you to some aspects you might not yet have thought about like the fact that your PhD thesis will yield two PDF outputs with (more or less) the same content but very distinct different formatting requirements. Enter LaTeX. 1 PhD = 2 (!) print outputs, i.e. thesis print and printed book publication Typesetting your PhD in LaTeX is a good idea because of the citation management, for formulars, maths and for images. You probably already know that. But another aspect a lot of people tend to forget while writing their PhD thesis is that a thesis will usually result in two different output PDFs with different typesetting needs: The thesis to be handed in at your university and the print publication which follows. But these two usually have some

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Fast typing LaTeX

I recently became aware of this post where somebody asked how you can become faster at typing LaTeX. Just a little post with a few recommendations. Experience from constantly using LaTeX for everything I have to say, I think it really gets better with experience. And experience from doing your everyday stuff in LaTeX (like to do lists, taking notes, etc.). Else you probably just won’t get enough experience to become really fast. Raise awareness But then again, slowing down might not be a bad thing if you’re supposed to produce high quality work. Using LaTeX, then, will force you to take the subconscious back into your conscious mind. Maybe not what you want when just quickly taking notes, but maybe something to reflect upon in the long term. I also found that, since I don’t constantly use MS Word’s auto-correct anymore, I’m actually better at spelling and grammar (even though, as someone holding a degree in Latin, I probably

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The power of simplicity, or: How to use tutorials

This is just a quick post, telling you to use tutorials selectively. If you don’t have time, don’t burden yourself with the not-so-short intro to LaTeX or 30 min introductions. Jumpstart in 3 minutes and go. This morning, I realized one thing: depending on what you want to do with LaTeX, you only need a very limited amount of commands. Even I use a very limited amout of commands for everyday tasks. Going through a whole tutorial might actually be a waste of time for you.   You only need 3-5 go-to commands What you always need (and, for example, an Overleaf blank document already supplies): You will typically need the general document setup (minimal example), \newpage, \maketitle, \tableofcontents, and \sections and \emph{}. For teaching documents, I will additionally need \textbf{boldface}, enumerate and itemize environments. Then maybe \href{http://latex-ninja.com}{links} (\usepackage{hyperref}), \texttt{typeface} for code or the verbatim environment. And, of course, I often use my cheatsheet template. For writing scientific articles, I

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How to quit MS Word for good

This post I want to dedicate to the pressing question of how to live without Word in the Word-filled environment of Academia where Word lurks behind every tree and jumps at you when you’re not paying attention. Do you actually enjoy this eternal distraction of a non-working text editor? Well, I don’t. And even though it’s not actually a good tool (if you’re being honest with yourself, deep down in your heart, you know I’m right), it has infested the world (not only of Academia).   How the story begins… At some point, now over a year ago, I decided that I wanted to quit MS Word once and for all. I had hoped to do that before but every single time, I had came up with about a million excuses why I just couldn’t. Probably kind of like you are now already preparing your counter arguments as to why that might work for me but it sure as hell

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Jumpstarting: Learn LaTeX in 3 minutes

Inspired by the learn x in y minutes tutorials, here comes my contribution to starting LaTeX quickly. If you want to jumpstart learning LaTeX, open your Overleaf account (or get one, they just require your email, no other info, takes 30 seconds) and open a blank or example project. A blank project will give you the following output: You can now start typing text. Wherever you want, but for now, preferably below \section{Introduction} and in between \begin{document} and \end{document}. The stuff before is the settings which don’t interest you just yet. There you can see fields for title and author which \maketitle uses to make a title. This is what you can use to generate a title page later on. Now type a sentence below \section{Introduction}, then hit space twice. Write another test sentence. Hit space twice and write \subsection{test}. To see your changes, you need to ‘compile’ this source code into an output PDF. Do this in Overleaf by

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