Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium: guidelines for symposium paper writing


Executive Summary

Papers due Sept. 23, via email to Prof. Roy Kilgard
All papers will be prepared with LaTeX — there is a required style file provided below as well as a template .tex file


Students who give a talk on their research at the 2016 symposium (October 14-15 at Wesleyan) will be writing a short paper to be published in the proceedings of the symposium. This proceedings document has been published annually for over twenty years — ask your research advisor to show you some old editions.

Student papers should be no more than five pages long (eight pages for papers by multiple students), including the bibliography and any figures and tables. We are using LaTeX for paper typesetting. LaTeX is a markup language with formatting commands and content separated (similar in concept in this sense to html). It handles equations and tables very well and includes images easily. It is the standard for published papers in the peer-reviewed literature (as well as many scientific and mathematical books).

You can probably figure out how to make or edit your LaTeX document simply by reading this short pdf document and the LaTeX file that was used to make it. You can test your LaTeX set-up on your or your department's computers by making the pdf from the .tex file. TexShop on a Mac is a common tool for compiling LaTeX files, but there are many others.

The document will only compile if you include the image file, which you'll need to download and put in the same folder as the .tex file. You will also need the KNAC style file to be in the same folder. The style information is all specified in that file, so you don't have to worry about margins or the size of tab indentations or which font you use, for example.

All the files linked in the above paragraph are available also in this single zip archive for your convenience.

Once you've compiled and read the example document, you can use the .tex version as a template, replacing its content with your own. Note the many tips and pieces of useful explanatory information in the example document (with more in comments in the .tex file itself). If you need more information, your advisor probably has a book or two on LaTeX and there is much information on-line (some of which is mentioned in the example document).

Two important items to note in formatting your paper:

  1. Make sure that all your figures are legible and understandable to the reader when printed in black and white. This means that you should not refer to specific colors in plots in the captions or text, and that you should not use symbols that will look the same as each other in grayscale.
  2. Do not use commands in the LaTeX file that change type sizes or margins (e.g. \scriptsize, \footnotesize, etc. Just stick with the default type sizes provide by the style file. If you can't fit into the page limit when using those, the paper is too long.

After having your advisor sign-off on your paper, you should submit it to Prof. Kilgard at Wesleyan by Sept. 23, as described in the example document. Professor Kilgard will read over and edit your paper, perhaps communicating with you if he needs any clarifications. To make this process go as smoothly as possible, use the template, consult with your advisor if you have any questions, and follow the guidelines above. Let Professor Kilgard know if you have additional questions that your advisor can't answer.


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