2010-06-17

Compacting Conference Papers in LaTeX

I have a conference submission due next week with one page of text and two pages of figures. I had to compact this submission like crazy, so I thought I'd post my notes in case anyone else finds them helpful. "Anyone else" includes a future me.

Margins

I used the geometry package to get my margins correct.
\usepackage[left=0.5in,right=0.5in,vmargin=0.8in,nohead,nofoot]{geometry}

Title

Unfortunately LaTeX doesn't seem to handle compacting titles, authors and affiliations very well. My start looks like this:
\centerline{\Large \bf Title Goes Here}
\medskip
\centerline{Author~Name~One, Author~Two$^{\rm \dagger}$, and
Author~Three$^{\rm \dagger*}$}
\centerline{Primary Author Institution, Address, Country}
\centerline{ phone: +1-123-456-7890, fax: +1-234-567-8901, email:
user.name@institution.edu }
\centerline{$\dagger$Affiliation $*$Affiliation}
\bigskip

%% Text starts here

Figures

I used the vspace command quite liberally to shrink the space between the pictures and the captions. An example follows. The "[h!]" command after the "\begin{figure}" tells LaTeX to try really hard to keep the same ordering as in the .tex file.
\begin{figure}[h!]
\vspace{-25pt} %% moves figure closer to previous caption
\centering
\includegraphics[width=3.5in]{figure_file.pdf}
\vspace{-5pt} %% moves the caption closer to the figure
\caption{\textbf{Figure title} - a detailed description of the figure.}
\label{fig:block}
\end{figure}

Equations

I embedded my equations in a figure to save space. I also used the vspace command to help with space between equations.
\begin{figure}[h!]
\centering
\vspace{-20pt}
\begin{equation}
\label{eq:one}
\frac{\partial c}{\partial t} = D\frac{\partial^2 c}{\partial x^2}
\end{equation}
\begin{equation}
\label{eq:two}
{\rm SNR} = 20\log_{10}\left(\mu\right)
\end{equation}
\begin{equation}
\label{eq:three}
\Delta{\rm SNR} = 10\log_{10}\left( f )
\end{equation}
\includegraphics[width=0.01in]{blank}
\vspace{-10pt}
\caption{\textbf{Equations}. Eq.~\ref{eq:one}
is foo, while Eqs.~\ref{eq:two}
and \ref{eq:three} are bar.}
\label{fig:eq}
\end{figure}

Bibliography

I spent the most time messing around with my bibliography. I wanted no line breaks between the items, the bibliography in a smaller font, only the first author listed and no titles in the items.

Achieving no line breaks requires two things. First, you have to find the *.bst file that LaTeX uses and copy it to your local directory under a different name. For example, I was using the "ieeetr" style file, so I copied ieeetr.bst from the location LaTeX uses to my local directory as myieeetr.bst. You then must modify this file, and comment out the "newline$" strings in the output item. So in my case, the item
FUNCTION {output.bibitem}
{ newline$
"\bibitem{" write$
cite$ write$
"}" write$
newline$
""
before.all 'output.state :=
}
became (notice the %'s before the two newline$'s)
FUNCTION {output.bibitem}
{ %newline$
"\bibitem{" write$
cite$ write$
"}" write$
%newline$
""
before.all 'output.state :=
}


Next, you have to add the following to the top of your .tex file before \begin{document} but after the usepackages
\usepackage{paralist}

\renewenvironment{thebibliography}[1]{\begin{inparaenum}[[1{]}]}{\end
{inparaenum}}
I have no idea what that command does, but my bibliography didn't have any line breaks. The bibliography stanza that comes after my main text ends is (and you should use whatever you named the local file in place of "myieeetr")
\medskip
\bibliographystyle{myieeetr}
\footnotesize{
\bibliography{myBibtexFileName}
}
To shorten the bibliography even further, I removed all "TITLE={...}," lines from my bibtex file, and replaced the non-first authors with the "others" string. This causes a bibliography item to look like
 [1] M. Smith, et al., Journal Name, vol. 99, pp. 123–123, Jan. 2000.
which is exactly what I wanted. If I was a manly user I'd modify the bst file to do this, but I'm only a lazypragmatic user. If you modify the ieeetr bst file to do this please send it to me!

Columns

I used one column for the text and "\twocolumn" before the figures to help with reducing dead-space.

Page Numbers

I used a "\pagestyle{empty}" at the start to remove page numbers.

Fonts

Adding a "\usepackage{times}" will help with using slighter smaller fonts.

Conclusions

I hope some of these notes will be helpful if you want to use LaTeX for conference papers. It was a bit challenging at first, but I'm very happy with the final results. Please let me know if you have any trouble getting things to work above; I'd be more than happy to send you my .tex files so you can see how things worked for me.

5 comments:

rice said...

or you could have used msword

Jenn said...

haha. LaTeX is sexy, but I have to admit that I was thinking the same thing as rice.

oogRobot said...

I can't believe you're serious. The time I would have spent making the paper with Word would have been much longer than LaTeX.

How does Word dynamically renumber references? Ever tried to change a bibliography style in Word? Have you seen the kerning in some figure captions? The way it handles vector graphics files? Have you ever tried to source control a Word document, when you have multiple authors working on it?

Jenn said...

Okay, those are valid points, and I am sure that once you become familiar with LaTeX (instead of my using it once every 6-12 months) doing what you're describing is a lot easier. The last thing I had to spend time on for a document (for a class) was a bibliography, in which case I used Bookends and it picked all of my references out and formatted them perfectly in Pages (mac text editing software). So, take that. Yeah.

oogRobot said...

Oh we're having a software throw-down now, are we? Are you really sure you want to go there? Because I can talk all day about how the text-based nature of LaTeX lets me do things like call my figure creation scripts, giving me traceability and reproducibility to the source and analysis of all of my data.

:p