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Tips for Writing a Research Paper using LaTeX


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Table of Contents

Examples for table organization, examples for figure organization, latex templates for cvpr/iccv paper submission, sample latex conference posters (cvpr/iccv/eccv/neurips), latex files for my thesis (sysu b.eng. + hku phd.), simple python programs for figure creation, great resources shared by others, brief introduction.

LaTeX is a very powerful tool for documentation preparation, and is often used by researchers to prepare a manuscript for reviewing and publication. However, some new graduate students might not have experience in using LaTeX and thus have a difficult time in prepare their first papers.

In this article (PDF) , we will first provide some tips for paper writing. Then, we will showcase several working examples for the tables and figures, which have been used in our previous publications. The readers are encouraged to adapt those tables and figures to their purposes to save time when preparing their first papers.

Overleaf Link: https://www.overleaf.com/read/hypvpvnzjjwx

writing research paper in latex

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writing research paper in latex

writing research paper in latex

Academic Paper

Here we present a standard format for academic papers, using a two column layout.

This example lets you get started right away, and includes some sample text and formulae to help learn how to write LaTeX.

Click below to get started.

Academic Paper

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writing research paper in latex

Using LaTeX for writing research papers

Many researchers are  using   Microsoft Word   for  writing research papers . However, Microsoft Word has several problems or limitations.  In this blog post, I will discuss the use of  LaTeX  as an alternative to Microsoft Word for  writing research papers .

What is LaTeX?

LaTeX  is a  document preparation system,  proposed in the 1980s. It is used to  create documents  such as  research   papers , books, or even slides for presentations.

The key difference between  LaTeX  and software like  Microsoft Word  is that Microsoft Word let you directly edit your document and immediately see the result, while  using   LaTeX  is a bit like programming. To write a  research  paper  using   LaTeX , you have to write a text file with the  .tex  extension  using  a formatting language to roughly indicate how your paper should look like. Then, you can run the  LaTeX  engine to generate a PDF file of your  research  paper. The following figure illustrate this process:

Latex to PDF conversion

In the above example, I have created a very simple  LaTeX  document ( Example.tex ) and then I have generated the corresponding PDF for visualization ( Example.pdf ).

Why using LaTeX?

There are several reasons why many researchers prefer  LaTeX  to Microsoft Word for  writing   research   papers . I will explain some of them, and then I will discuss also some problems about  using   LaTeX .

Reason 1: LaTeX papers generally look better

LaTeX   papers  often look better than  papers  written  using  Microsoft Word. This is especially true for fields like computer science, mathematics and engineering where mathematical equations are used.  To illustrate this point, I will show you some screenshots of a  paper  that I have written for the ADMA 2012 conference a few years ago. For this paper, I had made two versions: one  using  the Springer LNCS  LaTeX  template and the other one  using  the Springer LNCS Microsoft Word template.

This is the first page of the paper.

Word vs Latex 1

The first page is quite similar. The main difference is the font being used, which is different  using   LaTeX . Personally, I prefer the default  LaTeX  font. Now let’s compare how the mathematical equations appears in  Latex  and Word.

Latex vs Word

Here, we can see that mathematical symbols are more beautiful  using   LaTeX . For example, the set union  and the subset inclusion operators are in my opinion quite ugly in Microsoft Word. The set union operator of Word looks too much like the letter “U”. In this example, the mathematical equations are quite simple. But  LaTeX  really shines when displaying more complex mathematical equations, for example  using  matrices.

Now let’s look at another paragraph of text from the paper to further compare the appearance of Word and  LaTeX   papers :

Word vs Latex 3

In the above picture,  it can be argued that both  LaTeX  and Word  papers  look quite similar. For me, the big difference is again in the font being used. In the Springer Word  template, the Times New Roman font, while  LaTeX  has its own default font.  I prefer the  LaTeX  font. Also, I think that the URLs look better in  LaTeX   using  the  url  package.

Reason 2: LaTeX is available for all platforms

The  LaTeX  system is free and available for most operating systems, and documents will look the same on all operating systems.

To install  LaTeX  on your computer you need to install a  LaTeX  distribution such as MikTeK  ( https://miktex.org/ ). After installing  LaTeX , you can start working on  LaTeX  documents  using  a text editor such as Notepad. However, it is more convenient to also install an editor such as TexWorks or WinShell. Personally, I use TexWorks.  This is a screenshot of my working environment  using  TexWorks:


I will open my  LaTeX  document on the left window. Then, the right window will display the PDF generated by  LaTeX . Thus, I can work on the  LaTeX  code of my documents on the left and see the result on the right.

If you want to try  LaTeX  without installing it on your computer, you can use an online  LaTeX  editor such as  ShareLatex  (http://www.sharelatex.org ) or  OverLeaf.   Using  these editors, it is not necessary to install  LaTeX  on your computer. I personally sometimes use ShareLatex as it also has some function for collaboration (history, chat, etc.), which is very useful when working on a  research  paper with other people.

Reason 3: LaTeX offers many packages

Besides the basic functionalities of  LaTeX , you can install hundreds of packages to add more features to  LaTeX . If you use MikTek for example, there is a tool called the “MikTek package manager” that let you choose and install packages.  There are packages for about everything from packages to display algorithms to packages for displaying chessboards. For example, here is some algorithm pseudocode that I have written in one of my recent  paper  using  a  LaTeX  package called  algorithm2e :

algorithm EFIM

As you can see the presentation of the algorithm is quite nice. Doing the same  using  Word would be very difficult. For example, it would be quite difficult to add a vertical line for the “for” loop  using  Microsoft Word.

Reason 4: You don’t need to worry about how your document will look like

When  writing  a  LaTeX  document, you don’t need to worry about how your final document will look like. For example, you don’t need to worry about where the figures and tables will appear in your document or where the page breaks will be.  All of this is handled by the  LaTeX  engine during the compilation of your document. When  writing  document, you only need to use some basic formatting instructions such as indicating when a new section starts in your document. This let you focus on  writing .

Reason 5: LaTeX can generate and update your bibliography automatically

Another reason for  using   LaTeX  is that it can generate the bibliography of a document automatically. There are different ways of  writing  a bibliography  using   LaTeX . One of the most common way is to use a  .bib file.  A .bib file provide  a list of references that can be used in your  document.  Then, you can use these references in your  .tex  document  using  the  \cite{}  command and the bibliography will be automatically generated.

I will illustrate this with an example:


A), I have created a  Latex  document (a . tex  file) where I cite a paper called “efim”  using  the  LaTeX  command  \cite{efim} .

B) I have created a corresponding  LaTeX   bib  file that provides bibliographical information about the “efim” paper.

C) I have generated  the PDF file  using  the   .tex  file and the  .bib  file.  As you can see, the \cite{} command has been replaced by 25, and the corresponding entry 25 has been automatically generated in the correct format for this paper and added to the bibliography.

The function for generating a bibliography  using   LaTeX  can save a lot of time to researchers especially for documents containing many references such as thesis, books, and journal  papers .

Moreover, once you have created a  .bib  file, you can reuse it in many different  papers .  And  it is also very easy to change the style of your bibliography. For example, if you want to change from the APA style to the IEEE style, it can be done almost automatically, which saves lot of time.

In Microsoft Word, there is some basic tool for generating a bibliography but it provides much less features than  LaTeX .

Reason 6: LaTeX works very well for large documents

LaTeX  also provides many features that are useful for large documents such as  Ph.D thesis  and  books . These features include generating tables of contents, tables of figures, and dividing a document into several files. Some of these features are also provided in Microsoft Word but are not as flexible as in  LaTeX . I have personally written both my M.Sc. and Ph.D. thesis  using   LaTeX  and I have saved a lot of time by doing this. I have simply downloaded the  LaTeX  style file from my university and then used it in my  LaTeX  document, and after that all my thesis was properly formatted according to the university style, without too much effort.

Problems of LaTeX

Now, let’s talk about the disadvantage or problems faced  using   LaTeX . The first problem is that there is a somewhat  steep learning curve .  LaTeX  is actually not so difficult to learn but it is more difficult than  using  Word. It is necessary to learn various commands for preparing  LaTeX  documents. Moreover, some errors are not so easy to debug. However, the good news is that there exist some good places to ask questions  and obtain answers when encountering problems with  LaTeX  such as Tex.StackExchange ( http://tex.stackexchange.com/ ).  There also exist some free books such as the  Not So Short Introduction To  LaTeX   that are quite good for learning  LaTeX , and that I use as reference.  Actually, although, there is a steep learning curve, I think that it is an excellent investment to learn to use  LaTeX  for researchers. Moreover, some journals in academia actually only accept  LaTeX   papers .

The second problem with  LaTeX  is that it is actually not necessary to use  LaTeX  for  writing  simple documents.   LaTeX  is best used for large documents or documents with complex layouts or for special needs such as displaying mathematical equations and algorithms.  I personally use  LaTeX  only for  writing   research   papers . For other things, I use Microsoft Word. Some people also use  LaTeX  for preparing slides  using  packages such as  beamer , instead of  using  Powerpoint. This can be useful for preparing a presentation with lot of mathematical equations.

In this blog post, I have discussed the use of  LaTeX  for  writing   research   papers . I hope that you have enjoyed this blog post.

— Philippe Fournier-Viger  is a professor of Computer Science and also the founder of the  open-source data mining software SPMF,  offering more than 120 data mining algorithms.

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Vardan Agarwal

Apr 23, 2020

Start using LaTeX for writing research papers!

Best features of latex which makes it the go-to choice for writing scientific articles over word..

I will be honest, the first project I did on LaTeX I hated it. All I could think was, “Why will anyone want to use this? Why do I need to write code to write a document.” I vowed never to use it again but was forced by, my teacher, to use it and I loved it. I will tell you all those features which made me love it which will hopefully provide you with an incentive to start using it.

Table of Contents

Formatting the paper in Word is a nightmare. Add a line here and there and the table in the next page shifts completely, the image which supposed to be at the top goes in the middle and it goes on and on. For every change, the formatting needs to be fixed but that’s not the case with LaTeX. Suppose you want the images only at the top without interrupting the text flow, just write \begin{figure}[t!] , and now you don’t need to worry about it.

2. Document Style

There a lot of journals and conferences where you submit your paper and they all have a different document style. It can be double-column vs single-column, different heading styles, and even different text styles. Setting all of that manually can be quite a task, so just imagine the frustration in changing that and then correct the messed up formatting. LaTeX handles all this. Every journal has a LaTeX style template that can be downloaded and imported. Just specify with \documentclass{name} at the top of the document and your work is done. Want to submit to a different publication with a different style? Just download its style and change the name and it is automatically converted.

3. Figure and Table Styling

Using LaTeX we don’t need to worry about the size of the figures and tables. We can set it to cover the whole text length by using \includegraphics[width=\textwidth] or \includegraphics[width=\columnwidth] to column length in a double-column layout. This saves us from manually resizing the images and the particularly annoying and hard to resize tables.

4. Automatic Equation, Figure, Table and Reference Numbering

One of the most annoying tasks while writing a research paper in Word is when an equation, figure, table, or reference needs to be added or deleted. This has a domino effect on all its respective items after it, and their numbering needs to be changed where they appeared and where they were referred to in the text. LaTeX is like divine intervention in this task, something meticulously created by the extraordinary inventors that save us from this suffering (Well thanks Leslie Lamport ). We don’t need to worry about numbering in LaTeX, even where the required equations, figures, tables, or references originally appear. Just assign everyone their unique label and refer to it in the text as \ref{label} or \cite{label} in the case of references and it will be automatically replaced by the required number.

5. References using BibLaTeX

This is by far the feature which I like the most. It is a very time taking task to manually format the references. There is no fixed style of doing it and every publisher has a different style. Apart from that, the rules are different for different types of articles like books, conference papers, and journal papers. Now imagine the rage of the author if he/she has painstakingly formatted 50 references and needs to change their format. Using BibLaTeX prevents the occurrence of any such scenario and automatically formats the references while providing automatic numbering as discussed in the preceding paragraph. To use this we need to create a special bib file where we place all our citations in BibTeX format. Don’t worry about the BibTeX format every website where the articles are present provides the option to export the citation to BibTeX. Just copy-paste the entire thing in your bib file. Now download and import the BibLaTeX style file of the publication you want to submit in and write \bibliographystyle{style_file_name} and \bibliography{mybibfile} and voila the references are automatically formatted. It saves a lot of time and if you ever want to change the publication just download the style file of the new publisher and the references will be formatted accordingly.

I suppose that these features are reason enough for anyone to use LaTeX when writing a scientific paper. One thing people find hard is to write equations in LaTeX. There is a tool called Mathpix snipping tool which automatically converts equations to LaTeX syntax. It works well on the handwritten text as well.

More from Vardan Agarwal

Computer Vision enthusiast with an appetite to create fun projects. https://www.linkedin.com/in/vardan-agarwal-6bb123168/ https://www.buymeacoffee.com/vardan

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