Formatting your final paper in LaTeX

If you are actually planning to submit your final paper to an ACM conference, you should format it in LaTeX. (If you're not, don't bother. And definitely prioritize content over formatting.) LaTeX is a programming language that lets you describe what should be in your paper, and then does all the formatting work for you. It's not very beginner-friendly though. The easiest way to get started is by using Overleaf, a web-based tool that's free for individuals. This template will format your paper for an IDC demo paper (they use the SIGCHI Extended Abstract format).

  • Open the template page.
  • Log in or sign up for Overleaf, then choose "Open as template" to make your own copy.
  • Your paper will go in the .tex. file; your references will go at the bottom of the .bib file. (You can get bibtex-style references from Google Scholar.)
  • Overleaf will continuously re-compile your paper as you make changes. From here, it's lots of Google searching to make it look the way you want :)

The back story on LaTeX is sort of romantic. Donald Knuth, the guy who invented email (and then resigned from email, saying "15 years of email is plenty for one lifetime"), needed a system to typeset his book about computer programs. All the commercial typesetting was ugly. 40 years later, LaTeX is still the gold standard in typesetting. Here's a lovely profile with more.