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Programming in LaTeX for Social Scientific Document Preparation

Member rate £492.50
Non-Member rate £985.00

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*If you attended our Methods School in July/August 2023 or February 2024.

Course Dates and Times

Friday 22 February 13:00–15:00 and 15:30–18:00

Saturday 23 February 09:00–12:30 and 14:00–17:30

Constantin Manuel Bosancianu

Central European University

The course presents LaTeX, a widely-used document preparation system, in a way that's accessible to social science graduate students.

In this hands-on class, we cover all the steps required to produce a conference or class paper.

By the end of the course, you should be able to create by yourself an academic paper in its entirety: text, tables and graphs, references and footnotes.

We will also briefly look at how other software (e.g. R/Stata) integrates with LaTeX to make your work easier, and how it can be used to produce large-scale documents such as dissertations, as well as presentations.

Fundamentals are the most important, so topics such as handouts, or typesetting math equations will not be covered.

Anyone interested in using LaTeX in the long-term for papers, presentations, dissertations or handouts will benefit considerably from this class.

Tasks for ECTS Credits

1 credit (pass/fail grade). Attend at least 90% of course hours, participate fully in in-class activities, and carry out the necessary reading and/or other work prior to, and after, class.

Instructor Bio

Constantin Manuel Bosancianu is a postdoctoral researcher in the Institutions and Political Inequality unit at Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin.

His work focuses on the intersection of political economy and electoral behaviour: how to measure political inequalities between citizens of developed and developing countries, and what the linkages between political and economic inequalities are.

He is interested in statistics, data visualisation, and the history of Leftist parties. Occasionally, he teaches methods workshops on regression, multilevel modelling, or R.


The course aims to present LaTeX, a widely-used document preparation system, in a way that's accessible to graduate students in the social sciences.

LaTeX is an open-source alternative to software such as Microsoft Office. It lets you create a wide array of document formats: conference papers, books or dissertations, letters, presentation slides, and even handouts. It is free and can handle documents of over 200 pages with graphs, tables, footnotes, and cross-references. It is not based on templates and predefined rules, freeing the user from all concerns apart from the content itself. Finally, it does not have issues with software versions, or document compatibility, making it an ideal environment for collaboration.

This is structured as an applied class, where we will go together through all the steps necessary to create a typical document encountered in graduate school: a conference or class paper. By the end of the course, participants should be able to use LaTeX to create by themselves a paper with all its elements: title, abstract, text, tables and graphs, references and appendices, and even a table of contents. We will see a brief demo of how LaTeX can be integrated, in the case of quantitative analyses, with software such as Stata and R, to produce high-quality, publication-ready tables of results with minimal work. We will go through the use of LaTeX for dissertations and other similarly large documents, and see how smoothly it can handle cross-references and complex document structures. Finally, we will see how to use LaTeX to create a class or conference presentation by using the Beamer class. Special attention is given to tricks users can rely on to troubleshoot problems by themselves, with the use of web forums and textbooks. This should allow participants to continue progressing with LaTeX on their own, even after the Winter School is over.

Session 1

We gain basic familiarity with how LaTeX works, and learn the most basic aspects of document writing: using the template for a conference article, adding section headings and paragraphs, formatting the text, and changing the document margins. You will see how to get additional features for your document using LaTeX packages. These constitute necessary steps in any document and the goal of this Session is to show that they can easily be performed with LaTeX in an intuitive way. You'll also learn how to make basic use of TeXStudio, an intuitive, free and feature-rich interface for LaTeX. TeXStudio contains a number of helpful commands for reducing the work in a number of document formatting tasks. We will finish the Session by going through the stages of creating a table in LaTeX.

Session 2

We recap the most important steps for creating a table in LaTeX, look at examples of slightly more advanced table formats, and see how images/graphs can be added to our practice paper. You will learn how LaTeX can build complex table structures, such as for regression results, and regression comparison tables. I will demonstrate how R and Stata can be paired with LaTeX, so that analysis results can quickly be exported in the proper format. This does away with the need for manual copy/paste, reduces mistakes, and saves precious time. Finally, I'll show you how to add cross-references to improve navigation, and how to convert a LaTeX document to Word.

Session 3

We look at the final components of an academic paper: citations and bibliography. I will show how easy it is to create lengthier documents, such as dissertations, in LaTeX. In this case the document structure will be a bit different to that of an article, but I will show how the commands used to format an article can easily work for a book. We finish with using LaTeX to create Beamer slides for class presentations or conferences. You'll see how the same commands can be used to obtain itemized lists and sections, and to add tables, graphs, and bibliographies.

Due to time constraints I will not show you how to use LaTeX for writing mathematical formulas and equations, or how to create graphs and charts natively within LaTeX. I will focus on creating an academic paper from beginning to end in LaTeX, and on giving you the troubleshooting skills to advance on your own after the course. This is an introductory courseplease do not take it if you have already written basic documents with it LaTeX and wish to learn advanced features.

No prerequisites are needed to attend this class. Familiarity with HTML or any other markup language would help you understand more quickly how LaTeX works, but is not essential. LaTeX operates with identical commands for Mac, Windows and Linux so there are no restrictions on who can attend. For each session I have indicated readings, but these are not mandatory given the practical nature of the class. Even so, you are encouraged to use them as reference texts when embarking on using LaTeX on your own.

None. As long as you’re familiar with how a basic text editor works (Notepad, Gedit, SublimeText, Notepad++, even Vim or Emacs), you’re good to go.

Day Topic Details

Below you can find the schedule for our three sessions. I intend to cover in-depth all three topics mentioned below. At the same time, if participants have a special request regarding a particular topic we can be a bit flexible in reapportioning time between topics, or replacing one of the demonstrations in the third session with it.

Friday afternoon Basic document editing with LaTeX & Introduction to tables

We’ll discuss what the strengths and weaknesses of LaTeX are compared to software alternatives. We’ll focus on how to create a simple article, change text formatting and adjust the document formatting: headings, itemized lists, text alignment etc. We finish the day by learning how to create a simple table in LaTeX, as well as what helping tools there are to automate table creation as much as possible.

Saturday morning More tables, adding images in LaTeX & Integration with statistical software

I’ll recap the most important aspects of creating tables, before moving to more complex table structures.

I also show LaTeX’s abilities for adding graphs/images to your document, as well as inserting cross-references in the document. This is followed by a demonstration of how statistical software (R/Stata) can work with LaTeX to quickly produce tables of analysis results.

I finish with a few tools that will help you convert a LaTeX document into Word.

Saturday afternoon Bibliographies, cross-references, dissertations & presentation slides with LaTeX

We’ll see how to add citations and a bibliography to the document. . This will mark the end of our exploration into how to use LaTeX for writing an academic paper.

The majority of the class will be spent on how to apply the knowledge you gained so far to creating dissertations with LaTeX, as well as presentation slides with the Beamer class.

Day Readings

As this is more of a practical class, there is no need for mandatory readings. We’ll learn the software by using it, stumbling upon errors, and finding out how to solve or bypass them. However, if you wish to have a “textbook”-like companion for the class, please check the reading suggestions below. The text is easy to go through, as it includes numerous screenshots.

Use these suggested texts as helpful assistants and reference materials if you have further questions or need to remember a particular procedure.

Friday afternoon

Kottwitz, Stefan. 2011. LaTeX Beginner’s Guide. Birmingham: Packt Publishing. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 (pp. 9–104)

Saturday morning

Kottwitz, Stefan. 2011. LaTeX Beginner’s Guide. Birmingham: Packt Publishing. Chapter 5 (pp. 121–150).

Saturday afternoon

Kottwitz, Stefan. 2011. LaTeX Beginner’s Guide. Birmingham: Packt Publishing. Chapters 6 and 7 (pp. 153–188), 10 and 11 (pp. 227–264).

Software Requirements

A LaTeX distribution (I prefer TeXLive 2018) and the most recent version of TeXStudio

If you want to work on your own laptop, you must install the LaTeX distribution on your own, before the course starts. Instructions here. Please also install TexStudio, or any other text editor that you prefer to work with.

9.1. Software programme

TeXLive 2018. Alternatively, MiKTeX 2.9.6753 (or newer, available only for Windows machines) is also fine, as long as you have the necessary network permissions to install additional packages, as may be required.

TeXStudio 2.12.10 or newer.

Pandoc 2.2.2 or newer.


Hardware Requirements

No requirements. Any computer that has the abovementioned software will work.


If you’re interested in additional materials, please check the following books:

Recommended Courses to Cover After this One

Summer School
Introduction to R
Introduction to Stata

Winter School
Introduction to R
Introduction to Stata