Creating Academic Posters (and Printing Them)

I presented a poster paper at CICLing 2011 in Tokyo (that was the end of February so I wasn’t there during the earthquake, but it seems the organising committee members are all alright, thank heavens) and I naturally created my poster with LaTeX. Here’s a thumbnail of my poster:

I created this A0-sized poster (source code the TikZ drawings and CJK characters are externalised as PDF graphics and the bibliography embedded, so it should be compilable on most LaTeX installations without extra packages) with the beamerposter package, mainly by modifying Rob Hyndman’s style file. (There are other packages for creating posters in LaTeX, see this link for an overview.)

You can download my .sty and a simple sample poster .tex files here. I’ve put the colour themes (ComingClean in the left thumbnail, ConspiciousCreep on the right, inspired by this and this respectively) in their own separate .sty files. ConspiciousCreep is probably not so suitable for an academic poster… but perhaps it could be useful for a not-so-serious occasion.

Note that the sample poster is A1-sized; change the poster size in the .tex file as you require. I also defined a \footimage command that can be used to put whatever material you want in the bottom right hand corner. (I included photos of the authors in my poster not because of vanity, but because the organisers asked us to do so, so that it’d be easier for participants to locate the relevant authors.)

I brought my A0-sized PDF along to a printing shop who happily printed it out on one glorious giant A0-sized synthetic paper material. However, if you have trouble finding a printing shop who can print out these big sizes, you can use the pdfposter utility (available on all major GNU/Linux distros) to process your PDF into smaller-sized tiles. For example, if the input LLTposter-sample.pdf is A1-sized, then

pdfposter -s1 -ma4 LLTposter-sample.pdf a4tiles.pdf

will take the input file LLTposter-sample.pdf, split it into 8 A4 pages and save them in a4tiles.pdf. You can then print out the A4 pages and assemble them back into an A1-sized poster at the conference venue. (-s1 means no resizing of the original poster size, hence A1 as the result.) Enjoy!

Tamil and Hindi Support in LaTeX

Doing a post on typesetting Tamil and Hindi is only natural after sorting out Jawi and CJK! Just after I managed to get them working using the itrans package and the devanagari fonts, this exact question was asked on the TeX-LaTeX Stack Exchange site, to which I posted what worked for me. So this post is essentially a re-write of my answers there.

(These instructions are LaTeX-only; I’ve not dabbled much in XƎLaTeX.)

Installation on Ubuntu (TeXLive)

This one’s easy. Grab the itrans and itrans-fonts packages for Tamil, and also the texlive-lang-indic package for the Hindi fonts via synaptic (or apt-get).

Installation on Windows XP (MikTeX)

Grab the devanagari package using MikTeX’s Package Manager. As for itrans, since it’s not packaged properly in MikTeX, so we’ll need to install it manually. Download from CTAN. After unzipping the contents (say C:\itrans53\), assuming being your local TEXMF tree,

  • Move the contents of the lib folder into \tex\latex\itrans
  • Move the contents of the fonts folder into the appropriate locations, i.e.
    • *.mf in \fonts\source\itrans
    • *.afm in \fonts\afm\itrans
    • *.tfm in \fonts\tfm\itrans
    • *.pfb, *.pfa, *.pfm in <texmf>\fonts\type1\itrans
    • *.ttf in \fonts\truetype\itrans
    • *.fd in \tex\latex\itrans
  • Refresh the file name database (e.g. via MikTeX Options/Settings)

Using itrans

itrans doesn’t let you type in Tamil or Hindi (or Marathi, Sanskrit, Telugu and Gujarati) directly, rather you have to key in the ASCII transcription, then process it with itrans from the command prompt, then run (pdf)latex on the resultant file.

Say I have the following file indic-pre.tex:


\newfont{\devnf}{dvng10 scaled \magstep1}

Thank you!
{#tamil na^nRi #endtamil}
{#hindi dhanyavaad #endhindi}

Process it with itrans: (Windows MikTeX users need to change path to itrans53\bin to evoke itrans.exe

$ itrans -i indic-pre.tex -o indic.tex

Then run (pdf)latex on indic.tex, which is of course the file to edit if you have further text to add. Here’s the output of that little file:

Hold on! How’d you know you needed to type na^nRi etc?

I peeked at the transliteration map files ☺. For example, for the Tamil transliteration, for the Hindi (devanagari) transliteration, etc. If your LaTeX set up doesn’t install these files by default, you can download the package source .zip and look in the doc folder. The .itx files are sample source .tex files that generated the .ps files.

CJK support in LaTeX

(Oh gosh. This is one post I should have written a loooong time ago.)

Najmi has previous posted about Jawi support on LaTeX. Well then, what about CJK (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) characters?

(The process may be simpler using XƎLaTeX, but I personally use LaTeX more, so this post won’t touch on XƎLaTeX.)

Short snippets

If you need only short CJK snippets, use the CJK package. (While you’re at it, you may as well grab cjk-fonts and wadalab for the fonts.) On Debian-based systems, just grab latex-cjk-all and you should be good. Or if you don’t want the whole package (it’s huge), grab whatever you need for latex-cjk-chinese, latex-cjk-japanese or latex-cjk-korean (and whatever relevant font packages).

Here’s a basic example for Chinese:


%% if your file is saved as GB simplified encoding
… as we say in Chinese,

%% if you file is saved as Big5 traditional encoding
… as we say in Chinese,

But if you’re saving as UTF-8 then you need CJKutf8.sty (included in CJK package):


as we say in Chinese,
or \begin{CJK}{UTF8}{bsmi}子曰:有朋自遠方來,不亦樂乎?\end{CJK}

You have a few font choices (make sure you get the latex-cjk-chinese-arphic-* files!)

  • gbsn (简体宋体, simplified Chinese)
  • gkai (简体楷体, simplified Chinese )
  • bsmi (繁体细上海宋体, traditional Chinese)
  • bkai (繁体标楷体, traditional Chinese)

Japanese and Korean text are typeset much the same way. If you save everything as UTF-8, then it’s just a matter of knowing what fonts to invoke:


%% Japanese
露の世は 露の世ながら さりながら

%% Korean
편편황조 자웅상의 염아지독 수기여귀

The Japanese fonts are from the wadalab packages (latex-cjk-japanese-wadalab-*):

  • min (明朝 Mincho)
  • goth (ゴシック Gothic)
  • maru (丸ゴシック Maru Gothic)

As for Korean, well I’ve only been able to get mj (明朝体 MyongJu) working so far.

Entire Document in Chinese

On the other hand, if your entire document is going to be in Chinese, you might be better off using the ctexart document class (in the ctex package):





There is a caveat, though. You’ll need to copy some Windows Chinese font files to your $localtexmf/fonts/truetype/… directory (don’t forget to run texhash!) to use ctex properly (font name in CJK/ctexart in brackets). These are all for simplified Chinese characters:

  • simsun.ttc 宋体 (song, default)
  • simfant.ttf 仿宋 (fs)
  • simkai.ttf 楷书 (kai)
  • simhei.ttf 黑体 (hei)
  • simli.ttf 隶书 (li)
  • simyou.ttf 幼圆 (you)

In any case, for more help on the ctex package and ctexart.cls, you’d best ask for help at the CTEX forum. (Language there is predominantly Mandarin Chinese.) I’m not aware of similar classes for Japanese nor Korean, though.

Pinyin and Ruby

Younger children learning Chinese characters (Hanzi/Kanji/Hanja) would often have the pronunciations annotated alongside/above/beneath the characters. For Chinese pinyin pronunciations, you would invoke

…\dian4 \deng1

to get diàn dēng.

To cite Martin Duerst:

Ruby are small characters used for annotations of a text, at the right side for vertical text, and atop for horizontal text, to indicate the reading (pronounciation) of ideographic characters.

And you can produce them with the ruby package:


%% By convention, the pinyin would be *under* the Hanzi
%% so change the \rubysep to move it under


%% I find the default \rubysep (-0.5ex) too tight, so
%% let’s enlarge it a little.


%% Shonen manga readers would get the written as
%% rival, pronounced as friend

%% (CORRECTED June 22)

%% Disclaimer: I’m actually unsure where the
ruby should be placed for Korean Hanja


The output of which looks something like this:

LaTeX Lab, a web-based (collaborative) LaTeX editor

LaTeX Lab is a web-based LaTeX, using Google Docs as its platform so you’ll need a Google login to try it out. Since “sharing” a document is a default feature in Google Docs, LaTeX Lab can be used as an online collaborative editor.

Once saved, your LaTeX file will show up in your Google Docs file list, but you must access open it again via the LaTeX Lab link to get the LaTeX editor GUI. Opening the file from Google Docs will just show it as a plain text file, without the LaTeX syntax highlighting and toolbars etc.

However it’s still a preview release, so you probably don’t want to depend on it for your day-to-day use just yet!

LaTeX Documentation in Malay language


I am gradually writing for a booklet for LaTeX in Malay language. If you also want to contribute, you’re welcome. Lian and some other friends also had contributed on comments and others stuffs.

Feel free to download:


Note that I don’t use version number for the PDF as of now, since I assume it’s a BETA for every time I commit. But it’s readable and hopefully beneficial.

Or, if you’re cool enough, download the .tex files and the rest by yourselves and compile it. I have created a script called Make, just chmod +x and ./Make

hg clone latex-my-docs

CMYK Output for Printing Prepress

Happy Chinese New Year! Well traditionally CNY is celebrated up till the 15th day, so this isn’t a belated greeting. 😉

I thought my post on the front and back covers (+ISBN bar codes) was the last thing I wanted to document in the bookdesign series, but I just realised that I’d still yet to talk about producing a CMYK version if your printer is using a offset-printing process.

You can read about the CMYK colour model and how it it’s different from RGB. In a nutshell, RGB is for on-screen viewing and is more vibrant, CMYK is for commercial printing and seems more “dull”. Check with your printing service if they’re using (on-demand) laser printing or offset-printing to print your material; it may depend on the type of printing stock (i.e. the paper) you choose.

If laser printing is used, RGB is fine, and you can hand over your pdflatex-generated file over as it is. However if offset-printing is to be used, you’ll need to produce your PDF in CMYK colour model instead. Your printing service might be willing to do the conversion for you at their end; but I think it’s more efficient to do this yourself as you’ll have more control over the final PDF. It’ll also give you a more accurate idea of how your design will look in print, so you’ll have a chance of selecting your colours.

Convert all graphics files to CMYK

Any graphic files that you include (via \includegraphics, for example) must be converted to CMYK. If you have imagemagick, the quick way is

convert image_RGB.jpg -colorspace CMYK image_CMYK.jpg

But I’ve been told that the resulting PDF, when loaded into other applications e.g. Illustrator, contains the “wrong” colours. For more accurate results, you’ll need to use colour profiles as discussed here.

Invoke xcolor CMYK mode

By default, the xcolor package uses the RGB colour model. To invoke CMYK mode:

\usepackage[cmyk, …other options…]{xcolor}

And then there’s the issue of different kinds of black. If your design contains large areas of black, and particularly if it involves light-coloured text (e.g. white) on a black background, the RGB black directly converted to CMYK would have values of C: 100% M: 100% Y: 100% K: 100% (over-saturated rich black). You then run high risks of getting unwanted “shadows” if the four colours print out of registration, as shown in the sample on the right from this excellent article:

Now the cmyk mode of the xcolor package automatically redefines the colour black to C: 0% M: 0% Y: 0% K: 100%, i.e. flat or standard black. Flat black can look rather “washed-out”, so you might want to define a different shade of black, especially for large areas of black. Check with your printing service for further advice. E.g. our printer recommended to use a “cool black”  C: 30% M: 0% Y: 0% K: 100% for the covers of our Grid Computing Cluster book. Unfortunately I couldn’t figure out how to do it previously, but now I do:

\usepackage[cmyk, …other options…]{xcolor}

%% cmyk values have range [0,1]

%% In case you want to redefine the basic black
%% (0,0,0,1) across the board. Check with your
%% printer if this is advisable!!


%% Force the new black into effect, because
%% xcolor issues \color{black} with the old
%% black before all its initialisations.


In other words, you should always liaise with your printing service concerning the technical specs. You’ll thank them for their expert advice, and you’ll learn a lot about graphics design and the printing process as well.

OK that’s it! That’s truly the last of the bookdesign series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I did.

Front and Back Covers (and ISBN Bar Codes)

Sorry this post is so late after the last one, it was hard finding time to write between work and a toddler. We’re drawing to a close for this bookdesign series now… just as we’re starting a new year.

I’m not very imaginative, nor am I a graphic designer. So for my book cover, I go for a huge title across the top, a background illustration, and author/editor and publisher information at the bottom. Yes, very boring, but playing it safe — I think with a careful choice of fonts, colours and illustration, the end result wouldn’t look too bad at all. 🙂 I personally find the wallpaper package very handy for the cover page. So it might go something like this:

%% No header nor footer on the cover

%% Cover illustration

%% Bar across the top
\tikz[remember picture,overlay]%
text=Cornsilk,minimum width=\paperwidth,
minimum height=5em,anchor=north]%
at (current page.north){Exercises in \LaTeX};


The Wonderful Calmness\par
of Still Life Photos\par}


A small dummy example book by

\tikz[remember picture,overlay]%
text=Cornsilk,minimum width=\paperwidth,
minimum height=3em,anchor=south]%
at (current page.south) {Malaysian \LaTeX\ User Group};



%% Clear to next odd page

Then comes the back cover. Now if the book is published with an ISBN, you’d want to put a bar code for it. I was wondering where I could get a free bar code generator, when a gut instinct told me to look around CTAN for a LaTeX solution. And sure enough, the ean13isbn package does the trick without any hassle:

%% In preamble

%% Print the ISBN bar code
%% See the documentation for other sizes e.g. SC0, SC1…

So here’s the code for my backcover:

%% Temporarily enlarge this page to push
%% down the bottom margin


\huge\bfseries\sffamily\color{lime}`So Calming.’






\textbf{\textcolor{LightGoldenrod!50!Gold}{Malaysian \LaTeX\ User Group \textbullet\ \texttt{}}}

\textbf{\textcolor{LightGoldenrod}{Cover Illustration by Dusan Bicanski \textbullet\ \texttt{}}}

I’ve also added a table of contents with a simple \tableofcontents. The ToC heading is printed as a chapter heading, so I created a fancy style for it, without the chapter number and background picture, by modifying our fancy chapter code from earlier.

All in all, here’s what our sample book now looks like (empty pages omitted):

Download links of the LaTeX code producing the above:

Illustrations courtesy of here, here and here; OpenClipart Project here.


Well it’s been fun writing this series. It sure took me some time to prepare the sample code, search for appropriate illustrations and write up the posts, but I’m glad I documented how I achieved some of the effects in that Grid Computing Cluster book. Many thanks to all the readers and especially those who kept the comments section lively. You sure motivated me to finish writing this series! 😀

Customising running headers and footers

By default, the running headers in a two-sided book (resp. article) produced by LaTeX displays the chapter (resp. section) number + title and the page number on even pages; and the page number and section (resp. subsection) number + title on odd pages. On chapter pages, however, the running header is blank, and the page number is displayed in the centre of the footer.

All these default headers and footers can be customised, either with the facilities already provided by the memoir class, or via the fancyhdr package. Basically, you need to redefine the “plain” pagestyle for chapter pages, and the “headings” pagestyle for the non-chapter pages. Using memoir, you’d do something like


% respectively \makeevenhead{headings}…

While if you’re using the fancyhdr package:

  %% Clear all headers and footers
  %% e.g. if right footers on odd pages and left footers
  %% on even pages are some content:

  %% this applies to right headers on odd pages:
  %% and this to left headers on even pages:
  %% and this to centre headers on both even and odd:


As always, see the respective manuals/user guides for extensive instructions.

Here are some examples of what I’ve done:

(Download links of the .tex source files are at the end of this post)

Here are my specs:

  • On chapter pages:
    • page number in a coloured box on the right in the footer on odd pages;
    • ditto, but on the left in the footer on even pages;
    • blank running headers.
  • On non-chapter pages:
    • same footers as above;
    • on even pages, the chapter title on the left in the header, and a decorative line extending to the right all the way to the paper margin;
    • on odd pages, the section title on the right in the header, and a decorative line extending to the left all the way to the paper margin.

I used the tikz package for the coloured box containing the page number, as well as the decorative lines in the header.

You’ll probably notice that on the non-chapter pages, I’ve got some coloured background going on, too. I could’ve used the wallpaper package to achieve this effect, but just for kicks, I did them using the tikz package, using the headings pagestyle as a hook.

So here are the .tex source (plus the public domain images used) for producing the sample pages above:

Note that my examples require wallpaper.sty v2.5. If you’re using MikTeX, your wallpaper.sty is most likely v2.4, so you’ll have to grab the latest version yourself.