Using APA7 with usmthesis

Following up from the previous post Using APA7 with umalayathesis, but about usmsthesis. Likewise, I am hoping (against hope?) that one day, apacite package will be updated to support APA7, so that usmthesis.cls won’t need to undergo overhauling either.

But until that day comes, if you need to use APA7 with usmthesis now, then it may actually be easier to make the following changes within usmthesis.tex itself (don’t modify usmthesis.cls).

Add these lines before \documentclass.

\RequirePackage{scrlfile}
\PreventPackageFromLoading{apacite,multibib}
\AfterClass{book}{
  \RequirePackage[style=apa,natbib]{biblatex}
  \let\bibsep\bibitemsep
  \addbibresource{mybib.bib}
}

Remove these lines from usmthesis.tex: (They may be far away from each other; look carefully for each line in your .tex)

\newcites{own}{List of Publications}
\bibliographystyle{apacite}
\bibliographystyleown{apacite}
\bibliography{mybib}

Where you had \bibliography{mybib}, write instead:

\printbibliography[heading=bibintoc]

If you have lists of your own publications, remove these lines too:

\nociteown{lim:2007,lim:latextypesetting}
\bibliographyown{mybib}

and write instead:

\begin{refsection}
\nocite{lim:2007,lim:latextypesetting}
\printbibliography[title={List of Publications},heading=bibintoc]
\end{refsection}

After making these changes, delete the previously generated .bbl files (if any) in the directory.

Then run pdflatex, biber, pdflatex, pdflatex. Note that the biber processor must be used instead of bibtex now.

(If compiling on Overleaf, it should all “just work” because the build tool knows which processor to use.)

Using APA7 with umalayathesis

Currently the umalayathesis class uses apacite to implement the bibliography style, but apacite supports only APA6. For full APA7 it would be necessary to use biblatex-apa; no BibTeX style for full APA7 exists yet.

I’m still hoping (against hope?) that one day, the apacite package will be updated to support APA7, so that umalayathesis.cls won’t need to undergo overhauling…

But for now, if you want to use full APA7, it may actually be easier to make the following changes within thesis.tex itself.

Add these lines before \documentclass:

\RequirePackage{scrlfile}
\PreventPackageFromLoading{multibib}
\providecommand{\newcites}[2]{}

Make sure to add the custombib option in the \documentclass declaration:

\documentclass[english,singlespacedlisttitles,custombib]{umalayathesis}

And then add these lines after \documentclass:

\usepackage[natbib,style=apa]{biblatex}
\addbibresource{myrefs.bib}
\setlength\bibitemsep{2\onelineskip}
\setlength\bibhang{0.5in}
\renewcommand{\bibfont}{\SingleSpacing}

Next remove or comment out these lines:

\bibliography{myrefs}
\nociteown{Lim:2009,Bond:etal:WordNetBahasa:2014}
\bibliographyown{myrefs}

Add instead:

\cftinserthook{toc}{PlainChapTocLines}
\cftinserthook{toc}{disableuppercase}
\printbibliography[heading=bibintoc,title=\refname]
 
\begin{refsection}
\nocite{Lim:2009,Bond:etal:WordNetBahasa:2014}
\printbibliography[heading=bibintoc,title=\listpubname]
\end{refsection}

If you are using the splitpubs environment to separate your publication list for journal articles and conference proceedings, then change your splitpubs in your .tex file to be:

\begin{splitpubs}
\begin{refsection}
\nocite{Bond:etal:WordNetBahasa:2014}
\printbibliography[heading=subbibintoc,title={List of Publications:}]
\end{refsection}
 
\begin{refsection}
\nocite{Lim:2009}
\printbibliography[heading=subbibintoc,title={Papers Presented:}]
\end{refsection}
\end{splitpubs}

After making these changes, delete the previously generated .bbl files (if any) in the directory.

Then run pdflatex, biber, pdflatex, pdflatex. Note that the biber processor must be used instead of bibtex now.

(If compiling on Overleaf, it should all “just work” because the build tool knows which processor to use.)

Cuti-cuti Malaysia: Customisable State-by-state Holidays Calendar for 2022

OK, time for another Cuti-cuti Malaysia calendar for 2022… and yes I’m shamelessly reusing text wholesale from last year’s post 🙂

You can download the PDF customised for Penang here. If you would just like a calendar without the Malaysian holidays and/or Chinese lunisolar calendars, see this Github repo or this Overleaf template.

Preview of first two months in the calendar

Federal public holidays are highlighted in solid shaded pink circles, as in 1–2 February. Public holidays that are applicable for your home state (Penang in the above example) would be highlighted in solid shaded purple circles, as in 1 January. Public holidays in other states (relative to your home state) are also highlighted, but only in a hollow purple circle. See e.g. 14 January (Birthday of Yang di-Pertuan Besar) which is a public holiday in Negeri Sembilan, but not in Penang. School holidays are highlighted in light orange.

If you’d like to generate your own calendar for your own home state, or to change the illustrations/fonts/colours/etc, you can download the source code and compile with XeLaTeX. If you have an Overleaf account, you can also visit my read-only project and clone it to your own Dashboard. See this post for instructions on how to customise your calendar.

Data sources

The calendar data used in this sample were obtained from the following sources, and I cannot guarantee their accuracy and correctness.

  1. Malaysian public holiday data was sourced from the Google Calendar here using the Google Calendars API, then converted to a tab-separated values file.
  2. Malaysian school holiday data was sourced from the Malaysian Ministry of Education’s webpage.
  3. Chinese lunar calendar data was sourced from here, converted to a CSV file and Simplified Chinese and some minor editing for typesetting purposes (inserting \\ for line breaks.
  4. Photos in the sample calendar are sourced from Pexels and provided under the Pexels License.

Happy New Year 2022!

Citations not starting from [1]?

So you’re writing your thesis, and you’ve made very sure to use \bibliographystyle{IEEEtran}, or another style that numbers your citations sequentially throughout your thesis. Of course you would then expect that the first citation in your first chapter is [1], right? Right? So why does it not start from [1] in your own thesis; the first citation is some random number [16] or something??

The most likely cause is that you’ve used a \cite{...} somewhere in your \section, \subsection etc., or in a \caption{...}. So the compiler would see these \cite first when they appear in the table of contents, list of figures and tables: and you would likely see your citations [1], … [16] appearing in those lists.

Citations not starting from [1]
Citations not starting from [1] in “main text” despite using IEEEtran bibliography style
A quick solution to get around this is to load \usepackage{notoccite} in your preamble: this would ensure that the sequential numbering of citations will not start in \tableofcontents, \listoffigures, \listoftables.

Demo using notoccite package
Sample code and output when using notoccite with citations

Happy LaTeXing!

Cuti-cuti Malaysia: Customisable State-by-state Holidays Calendar for 2021

Another year, another Cuti-cuti Malaysia customisable calendar created with LaTeX! (Well at least this year my updates are quarterly)

You can download the PDF customised for Penang here. If you would just like a calendar without the Malaysian holidays and/or Chinese lunisolar calendars, see this Github repo or this Overleaf template.

Calendars for January, February 2021

Federal public holidays are highlighted in solid shaded pink circles, as in 12–13 February. Public holidays that are applicable for your home state (Penang in the above example) would be highlighted in solid shaded purple circles, as in 1 January. Public holidays in other states (relative to your home state) are also highlighted, but only in a hollow purple circle. See e.g. 1 February (Federal Territory Day) which is a public holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan, but not in Penang. School holidays are highlighted in light orange.

If you’d like to generate your own calendar for your own home state, or to change the illustrations/fonts/colours/etc, you can download the source code and compile with XeLaTeX. If you have an Overleaf account, you can also visit my read-only project and clone it to your own Dashboard. See this post for instructions on how to customise your calendar.

Data sources

The calendar data used in this sample were obtained from the following sources, and I cannot guarantee their accuracy and correctness.

  1. Malaysian public holiday data was sourced from the Google Calendar here using the Google Calendars API, then converted to a tab-separated values file.
  2. Malaysian school holiday data was sourced from the Malaysian Ministry of Education’s webpage.
  3. Chinese lunar calendar data was sourced from here, converted to a CSV file and Simplified Chinese and some minor editing for typesetting purposes (inserting \\ for line breaks.
  4. Month illustrations in the sample calendar are created by GraphicMama and distributed by Smashing Magazine under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

Happy New Year 2021!

Pruning .bib files with JabRef

BibTeX files are quite amazing when you think about it: It’s a plain text file, acting as a format-independent database, holding information about various types of published (or unpublished) artifacts, to support the generation of citations in LaTeX documents.

BibTeX styles typically ignore fields that it doesn’t support, so you can add arbitrary field names to hold whatever additional information you want about each item, e.g. “annote“, “keywords“, “abstract“, etc. Some reference management software even take to embed an entire PDF file as a binary string as a field (e.g. “bdsk-file-1“) right inside the .bib file.

While this means you can use your .bib as a completely standalone reference library, it does mean that the .bib’s physical file size can get quite bloated, even to many MBs: bibliography processors like bibtex or biber would then take a much longer time reading and parsing the .bib file, even if they’re just going discard these field values. And if these fields contain special characters, like %, then bibtex/biber will likely choke and fail to process the entire .bib file correctly.

It may therefore make sense to prune your .bib file to remove these fields, to export a leaner .bib. Several Python scripts have been written for such purposes (e.g. this one), but if you happen to have a copy of JabRef it’s pretty nifty too, especially if you prefer a GUI tool.

  1. Click on any items in the .bib first, and then Ctrl-A (or Cmd-A on a Mac) to select all entries in the .bib.
  2. Click on the “Library” menu and choose “Manage field names & content
  3. Specify/choose “abstract” for field name, then select “Clear fields” and “Overwrite existing field values“. Then click “OK”.
  4. Repeat step 3 for “keywords”, “annote”, “bdsk-file-1” and any other fields that you want to truncate. Make sure that all entries are still selected; because the “set/clear/append/rename fields” operation only applies to selected entries.
  5. Remember to Save the .bib to commit the changes to file.

jabref-clearfield

Creating tiled background patterns

We’ve covered before how to use the wallpaper package to create a background for your documents using, amongst others, tiled images in a previous post. But at times I really want to create patterns from existing LaTeX font ornaments or TikZ drawings, rather than using an extra image file.

The tcolorbox package has a fill tile picture option that can be used with arbitrary TikZ code:

tcolorbox-fill-tile-picture

But from experience, repeatedly running TikZ code can result in long compilation times, especially if you were planning to use design a tile pattern as the background to all pages. Saving a TikZ tile drawing as a LaTeX box, and then repeating that, would compile much faster.

So, OK, let’s give this a try and design some tiles! *crackles knuckles*

Designing a Tile

I’m no designer, so I thought I would just fumble along and try to mock up something first, before cropping/clipping things down to the required tile element. The adforn package provides some subtle ornaments, so I’ll use those as a start to play around on a grid to help me lay things out:

\usepackage{adforn}
 
\begin{document}
\definecolor{blossompink}{HTML}{FFD7D7}
\definecolor{fruitgold}{HTML}{FFEEBE}
\definecolor{stictchbrown}{HTML}{E7D192}
 
\begin{tikzpicture}[x=1cm,y=1cm,domain=0:3]
\draw[step=1cm,black!10,very thin] (0cm,0cm) grid (3cm,3cm);
\foreach \x in {0,1} {
  \foreach \y in {0,1} {
     \node[font=\Huge,text=blossompink] at (2*\x, 2*\y) {\adforn{5}};
     \node[font=\Huge,text=fruitgold] at (2*\x+1, 2*\y+1) {\adforn{35}};
   }
}
\begin{scope}[dashed,stictchbrown]
  \draw plot (\x,\x-1);
  \draw plot (\x,\x+1);
  \draw plot (\x,-\x+1);
  \draw plot (\x,-\x+3);
\end{scope}
\end{tikzpicture}

scratch-design-1 That looks pretty good to me! And I only need a 4-by-4 unit of this sketch (the dark gray square) to make me a tile, which I can get with a \clip (0,0) rectangle (2,2); at the start of the TikZ code.

This can then go into a \savebox for later use:

\newsavebox{\tileone}
\sbox{\tileone}{%
  \begin{tikzpicture}[x=1cm,y=1cm]
  \clip (0,0) rectangle (2,2);
  \foreach \x in {0,1} {
    \foreach \y in {0,1} {
       \node[font=\Huge,text=blossompink] 
         at (2*\x, 2*\y) {\adforn{5}};
       \node[font=\Huge,text=fruitgold] 
         at (2*\x+1, 2*\y+1) {\adforn{35}};
     }
  }
  \begin{scope}[dashed,stictchbrown]
    \draw plot (\x,\x-1);
    \draw plot (\x,\x+1);
    \draw plot (\x,-\x+1);
    \draw plot (\x,-\x+3);
  \end{scope}
  \end{tikzpicture}%
}

If you \usebox{tileone}, you’ll see this:
tile-1

And we can now use this with tcolorbox‘s fill tile picture option:

\begin{tikzpicture}
\path[draw,fill tile picture={%
  \node[inner sep=0pt,outer sep=0pt,fill=blue!40!black]
       {\scalebox{0.5}{\usebox{\tileone}}};
}] 
(2.75,-0.75) -- (3,0) -- (2.75,0.75)
\foreach \w in {45,90,...,315}
{ -- (\w:1.5cm) } -- cycle;
\end{tikzpicture}

This can also be easily made into a whole-page background. I usually (ab)use the page header to get it in:

\usepackage{fancyhdr}
\usepackage{tikzpagenodes}
\fancyhf{}
\renewcommand{\headrule}{}
\fancyhead[L]{%
\begin{tikzpicture}[overlay,remember picture]
  \path[fill tile picture={%
    \node[inner sep=0pt,outer sep=0pt] {\usebox{\tileone}};
  }] (current page.south east) rectangle (current page.north west);
  \fill[opacity=0.4,white] ([shift={(-1em,1em)}]
        current page text area.north west) rectangle
           ([shift={(1em,-1em)}]current page text area.south east);
\end{tikzpicture}
}
\begin{document}
\thispagestyle{fancy}

pagebg-tileone-fs8pagebg-tilethree-fs8

The extra thumbnails shows designs that uses pgfornament-han and pgfornament just for fun; might be a bit over the top there though. Enjoy designing your new backgrounds, but do take care not to be over-flamboyant to the point of being too distractive, and repeating things too many times on too many pages will still take a long time to compile, despite already using \usebox!

The Future of GayaUKM

I first created GayaUKM, a LaTeX document class and template for authoring theses following the formatting guidelines of University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 2013, on a commission by Pusat Pengurusan Siswazah, UKM.

With inputs from PPS, faculty and students from UKM, GayaUKM is now at v1.4. Unfortunately, I no longer quite have the time to continue maintaining and updating GayaUKM after v1.4.

I am therefore very glad to announce that Dr Mohd Hairi Mohd Zaman, from UKM’s Department of Electrical, Electronic and Systems Engineering, have agreed to take up the mantle to maintain GayaUKM. Thank you, Hairi! The new Github repo address is at https://github.com/mohdhairimohdzaman/GayaUKM.

I thank also UKM’s PPS thesis committee, especially Dr Asyraf and Dr Zambri, for their past support of GayaUKM and for helping to spread the word about LaTeX among Malaysian academics and students.