Usually when I start writing a new document I am not immediately interested about the output layout. This may sound unorthodox to one accustomed to the WYSIWYG1 likes of Microsoft Word, but since I mainly write in Markdown and LaTeX, I like to focus on what I want to say first and think about typesetting the text later. The look of the output matters, though, so eventually I have to deal with it.

For example, while working on my BA thesis with LaTeX I was faced with the problem of the frontispiece. Ca’ Foscari university provides a template that students can slap in front of their documents, but the choice is limited to a couple of popular file formats: DOC and ODT.2

The quick and dirty solution could have been along these lines:

  • edit the ODT template;
  • export it to a PDF file;
  • add it to the front of my final document.

However, I decided to stick with AUCTeX and accept the challenge. The following is a working example based on my thesis that can be saved to a frontispiece.tex file:





\LARGE{Corso di Laurea triennale in \colorbox{gray!10}{indirizzo}\par}
\LARGE{Tesi di Laurea\par}
{\huge\bfseries \colorbox{gray!10}{titolo}\par}
\colorbox{gray!10}{nome e cognome}\\[0.5cm]
\colorbox{gray!10}{nome e cognome}\\
\colorbox{gray!10}{numero matricola}\\[0.5cm]
\textbf{Anno Accademico}\\



The only missing bit is the Ca’ Foscari university logo, referenced above as {cafoscari-logo} as per the name of the image file I used, which is cafoscari-logo.png. Here it is:3

Now, getting a PDF is simply a matter of placing the .tex and the .png files in the same directory and run something like pdflatex frontispiece.tex.

On the other hand, I have AUCTeX and PDF Tools on my side. From the comfort of Emacs I can then set TeX-view-program-selection to '((output-pdf "PDF Tools")) and hit C-c C a to create and display the desired PDF output.

One last remark for any Ca’ Foscari student reading this. To the best of my knowledge supervisors in the Philosophy department usually ask for drafts in DOC format. Although this may not be true for other departments, unless LaTeX is a requirement make sure your supervisor and assistant supervisor, if any, accept PDFs when you want their valuable opinion on your draft.

  1. See: WYSIWYG↩︎

  2. See: Upload tesi, antiplagio e veste grafica↩︎

  3. The logo comes from the ODT template, which is publicly available on the university website. I just extracted it to a PNG file using LibreOffice Writer. ↩︎