Online Collaborative Writing using LaTeX

LaTex / TeX has been a favourite of scientists for a long time. For many, TeX typesetting is considered to be producing the most beautiful and elegant documents, in particular when equations are involved. On OSX, I used over the years tetex and TeXLive in the past. Nowadays, MacTeX appears to be a popular package.

Beside the beautiful and elegant documents it produces, LaTeX uses only ACSII characters. It is thus highly portable and fully compatible across platforms. Therefore, documents can be written in any text editor (from the lowest common denominator such as vi to more elaborate one such as Emacs. On OSX, you will find the beautiful Aquamacs version of Emacs.

However, collaborative writing in LaTeX might not be the most intuitive function of LaTeX/TeX packages. And while I do hate WORD, its visual change tracking system makes document sharing and collaborative writing quite easy (compared to performing a “diff” command on two files and so on…If you do not know what is the “diff” command, it further proves the point).

Welcome to the free WriteLaTeX online collaborative environment. This new service was pointed out to me recently by a colleague at my institution. It is a web-based service and thus cross-platform and fully compatible with tablets (either iOS, Android or Blackberry) and no need to install a standalone distribution. Your working space is 100 Mb with the possibility to increase to 1 Gb (in steps of 50 Mb per referral…). Figures in JPG, PNG and PDF are supported as well as bibTeX bibliography style. Furthermore, writeLaTeX let you do Beamer presentations as well!


This image was taken from the writeLaTeX website and shown as a example of the feature sets available.

If LaTex is still in your arsenal of writing tools, have a look at writeLaTeX.


  1. This is terrific — thank you for posting about this. I hadn’t seen this tool before and it looks fantastic. I’ve been trying to get some collaborative writing started on my own blog but now I’m excited to explore this new option as well.



  2. There seems to be competition in the online LaTeX editors these days. I’ve been a fan of ShareLaTeX since it was ScribTeX, but it’s always good to have options.

    I’ve had some success putting tex files into a git repository and then collaborating via git style pull requests and such. Might be overkill for the basic use though…


  3. Thanks for the review – I’m one of the developers of writeLaTeX and it’s great to see how online LaTeX editors are taking off.

    For those new to LaTeX, we’ve recently published a two-part “Introduction to LaTeX”, using writeLaTeX to teach the basic commands through interactive exercises. This was originally presented at Bristol University, and is now available here:



  4. Nice tips. It comes exactly when I am editing my dissertation and I guess it will be a great help. For editing I am using TeX Maker and I am pretty happy with it. I’ve been using Tex Live 2010.

    Thank you very much.


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