Category Archives: Package Review

Notes Package: todonotes


This is a package I recently stumbled upon. It allows you to easily insert notes into a document – either inline or in the margins.

It can also create a list of to-do notes, which would be helpful when editing drafts.

I particularly like the \missingfigure{} command. This inserts a bright, bold image into your text – so you won’t forget to add the final figure to your document.

The other commands are \todo{} and \listoftodos. You can customize the colour, font size and placement of each note.

\todo{Some note or other.}
\todo{Some note or other.}

For my example document, these are the commands I included:


\todo{Some note or other.}

\todo[noline]{Another note.}

\todo[inline]{And another one.}

\missingfigure{Add my picture here.}

Here is the code for my sample document: SimpleToDoNotesTex.pdf

Here is the output PDF of the document: SimpleToDoNotes.pdf

This is a new package, so there may still be some glitches with it – but I think it’s useful for editing and writing up long documents.

The todonotes package was created by Henrik Skov Midtiby.

Useful Links

Header Package: fancyhdr

Using fancyhdr
Using fancyhdr

This package allows you to customize headers and footers in the LaTeX document.

You can find comprehensive information on this package in The LaTeX Companion.

Here I’ll explain how to make a simple header showing your name and the date.

This is what you need to include:



\lhead{John E. Smith}

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Quisque ut ante pulvinar mauris interdum euismod. Aliquam dui tellus, blandit at, tincidunt ac, feugiat id, nibh.

Simple Header
Simple Header

Phasellus id metus. Aliquam erat volutpat. Donec fringilla. Donec euismod, velit quis adipiscing hendrerit, enim eros tempor mi, a hendrerit ipsum eros eget leo.


Here is the output PDF of the document: SimpleFancyhdr.pdf

The fancyhdr package was created by Piet van Oostrum.

Useful Links


The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List

If you find yourself wondering how to create your chosen transliteration style and can’t find the right character input, this will make happy reading:

The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List by Scott Pakin (4.3Mb PDF)

Common Transliteration Symbols in LaTeX

PDF Preview
PDF Preview

At 152 pages, the comprehensive symbol list is a bit unwieldy.

As a quick reference, I’ve made a one-page table of the most commonly used transliteration symbols for dealing with French, German, Spanish and transliterated Arabic – along with some examples.

You can download it from here:

Common Transliteration Symbols in LaTeX (61Kb PDF)

Semtrans Package

For people working with Semitic languages, the Semtrans package can be useful.

I found this after weeks searching for how to represent the Arabic letter kha’ in the style commonly used in German scholarship (a letter ‘h’ with a little u underneath). You get this by typing \U{h}. See page 14 of the comprehensive symbol list. `Ayn is \Ayn.

N.B. When using the command \U{h} in a section heading, you need to add \protect beforehand, so the command becomes \protect\U{h}. Otherwise, you will get error messages and the symbol won’t display. Thanks to Berteun for this tip. I haven’t found any difficulties with the \Ayn command.

LaTeX Package Reviews

For people who already use LaTeX, I’ll be discussing some LaTeX packages relevant to the humanities (particularly to Middle Eastern Studies).  Hopefully this will save you trawling the internet for information.

These posts will be interspersed between more basic information that I’ve categorized ‘Getting Started’.

For newcomers to LaTeX, add-on features for the system are known as packages. For example, multicol allows you to use multiple columns in a document, while the url package lets you properly format links.