LaTeX for the humanities

HPS scholars are in the unusual position of often needing to use the complex technical formatting of the sciences without having the technical comfort with basic coding. I love $\LaTeX$. (Actually, I love typesetting in general, and was a copy editor for The McGill Daily.) I plan to use this page to discuss some of the tips and resources for using $\LaTeX$ for the humanities. For now, it will be geared to those with some familiarity with $\LaTeX$, but if people are interested I can write something about setting up a system from scratch.

My personal setup is a Mac laptop, and I use the wonderful TeXShop editor and BibDesk to manage my personal library of PDFs and other references.  If you’re thinking of switching, or wondering exactly what’s wrong with other typesetting programs, you can read some of this. Kile is a popular Linux front for $\LaTeX$, and windows users should see MiKTeX.

To make everything work to get Chicago style notes or author-date parenthetical notations use usually need something more involved than a BiBTeX stylefile. You need a new $\LaTeX$ package. My current setup is to use David Fussner’s excellent biblatex-chicago package. BibLaTeX has excellent documentation as well. I use an extension to BiBTeX called bibtex8 that allows me to have one large library file (which is problematic in standard BiBTeX) and better support for 8-bit characters, like accents and non-English letters. BiBLaTeX also has great integration with hyperref so that DOIs and links to e-prints are live in my documents, and footnotes are links within the PDFs to the actual note.

(For parentheticals I use natbib which I believe integrates with BiBLaTeX, but I haven’t  tried that just yet)

The preamble to my template for taking notes looks like this:
 %%%%%%%%%%%%% %%%%%%%%%%%%% % % template for notes on papers % % (c) Aaron Sidney Wright % https://aaronsidneywright.wordpress.com %%%%%%%%%%%%% \documentclass[12pt]{article}
% \usepackage{setspace} \usepackage{float} \usepackage{graphicx} \usepackage{epsfig} \usepackage{etoolbox} \usepackage{calrsfs} \usepackage{braket} \usepackage{amssymb,amsmath} \usepackage{times} % %some individual commands % \usepackage[strict,backend=bibtex8,hyperref=true%,backref=true ]{biblatex-chicago} % \bibliography{MA} % \usepackage[pdftex,bookmarks, colorlinks, breaklinks]{hyperref} \hypersetup{linkcolor=blue,citecolor=blue,filecolor=black,urlcolor=blue, pdftitle={Aaron Sidney Wright---notes},pdfauthor={Aaron Sidney Wright}} % \oddsidemargin -0.05in \textwidth 6.5in \doublespacing % \pagestyle{myheadings} \markright{A. Wright Notes on CITECOMMAND} % \author{Aaron Sidney Wright \\ \\ \small IHPST, University of Toronto\\ \small} \title{Notes} \date{\today} %% %% %% \begin{document}

UPDATE 27/3/12:

I’m using biblatex-chicago now and it’s great! Here’s my new preamble:
\documentclass[12pt]{article}

\usepackage{setspace}
\usepackage{float}
\usepackage{graphicx}
\usepackage{epsfig}
\usepackage{etoolbox}
\usepackage{calrsfs}
\usepackage{braket}
\usepackage{amssymb,amsmath}
\usepackage[margin=1in]{geometry}

\usepackage[strict,backend=bibtex8,hyperref=true,backref=false]{biblatex-chicago}

\bibliography{MA}

%\oddsidemargin -0.25in
%\textwidth 6.75in
\doublespacing

\newcommand{\degree}{$^{\circ}$ }
\newcommand{\email}[1]{\href{mailto:#1}{#1}}

\author{name \email{a@b.com}}
\date{\today}
%%
%%
%
\begin{document}

%\thispagestyle{empty}
%
\maketitle

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments!

4 thoughts on “LaTeX for the humanities”

1. Aaron Sidney Wright Post author

I’ve looked around for something like that for other people before and the answer is `not really’. But, I would try the BibTeX support from Mendeley. It can maintain a BiBTeX file along with it’s other stuff. I’m not sure how that would interact with MikTeX, but it should be fine. You get Mendeley to update the BiBTeX bibliography file in a folder LaTeX will know how to look for it.

Check it out and let me know!