Libraries to offer trial version of Overleaf

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The NCSU Libraries is offering a one-year trial of Overleaf, an online collaborative authoring and publishing tool. Ideal for students and faculty in the sciences, Overleaf simplifies the writing, editing, and publishing of scientific and technical documents. The tool already counts over 1,000 users of a limited, free version on campus.

The trial begins in November; visit the Overleaf trial site for signup information.

Overleaf specifically aids early career researchers with its integration of LaTeX, a markup language that typesetters use for scientific and technical material. Authors collaborate through a central portal and track changes through an integration with Git, a powerful version control system. Changes by multiple authors are merged transparently so that users are always working on the current version.

Many users in the sciences and across disciplines have found that these and other features make Overleaf easier and more efficient than Google Docs, another common scholarly collaborative tool. Institutions such as Purdue, Virginia Tech, Caltech, and Stanford already subscribe.

“I use Overleaf for scientific papers. But it’s not just me; it’s my whole lab group,” says Vaclav Petras, a graduate student in the School of Sciences. “We like the fact that it uses LaTeX because that's how we are used to working. And we have a lot of images that we don’t want to deal with. For scientific publications, at least in terms of what my colleagues and I are used to, working on Overleaf is just easier for us.”

LaTeX is complex and can be time-consuming to learn. With Overleaf, however, students can participate fully in collaborative work without running into technological barriers. The tool offers templates for elements such as tables, tikz figures and pgfplots graphs.

“It’s very different from Google Docs,” Petras adds. “They just don't give you enough control over things like formatting or comments. Right away, Overleaf gives you journal formatting, because it’s in LaTeX. It offers an alternative to Google Docs.”

Contacts

  • Christopher Erdmann, Chief Strategist for Research Collaboration, 919.515.5634,
  • Mohan Ramaswamy, Associate Head, Research Engagement and Graduate Services, 919.513.3157,
  • Mira Waller, Interim Department Head, Research Engagement, 919.515.3855,