LOT Winter School 2019

LaTeX for Linguists

Sebastian Nordhoff & Antonio Machicao y Priemer


Title: LaTeX for linguists

Teacher: Antonio Machicao y Priemer & Sebastian Nordhoff

Email address: mapriema@hu-berlin.de ; sebastian.nordhoff@langsci-press.org

Website teacher: https://www.linguistik.hu-berlin.de/de/staff/amyp;

Course info
Level: basic to advanced depending on individual needs

Course description:
Students often struggle with the technical complexity of a thesis and waste a lot of time doing things in a less efficient way. Many express a desire to write their theses in LaTeX, but often they are afraid of the learning curve, hence we offer this course. We feel that a practical course like this is a very good addition to the theoretical courses offered at LOT schools.

LaTeX is a very powerful typesetting system developed for complex scientific documents. Next to superior typography, it offers many tools to make life easier for linguists. For instance, the handling of references is automated, interlinear examples can be automatically aligned, and complex trees can be generated from bracketing notation. LaTeX files are robust, can easily be versioned and are lightweight. Nordhoff wrote his 839-pages PhD thesis for LOT in LaTeX.

However, the very first steps with LaTeX can be tough. In this course, we use the web platform Overleaf. Overleaf is a web-based LaTeX editor, which could be compared to GoogleDocs. For the purpose of this course, it is not required that students have a LaTeX installation on their computer; a modern browser is enough.

We will start with a very simple article to get acquainted with the way LaTeX works. Teaching will be interactive, i.e. every student will have their own computer and will work on their own small article. The teachers will explain the basic principles as we move along, which the students will then apply in their documents. Explanations will alternate with the teachers helping students when problems arise.

From the basic article, we will move to a book. The book will necessarily be a very short book with only a couple of pages, but the principles are the same. Once the basic structure is understood, we will deal with efficient ways to represent particular elements we find in linguistic texts:

  • tables
  • interlinear examples
  • linguistic trees
  • diagrams and charts

The domains covered (phonology, syntax, semantics, ...) will be adjusted to the needs of the students.

Day-to-day program

Monday: Introduction to LaTeX: creating a simple article, styles and commands, document structure, debugging

Tuesday: Environments (lists, figures, tables, etc.), interlinear examples, cross-references

Wednesday: Bibliographies

Thursday: Linguistic trees (syntax, prosody, classifications), attribute-value-matrices, semantic formulae in math mode (to be adjusted in accordance with the students’ topics)

Friday: Customization; drawings and diagrams with TikZ

Reading list


Since this is a practical hands-on course, there is no reading list as such.

We will work with the web platform Overleaf, so the following is a good place to start: