How to Set Up and Use Overleaf: A Free Online LaTeX Compiler

By Anthony Stefan

Florida Institute of technology

Licensed according to this deed.

Published on


How to Set Up and Use Overleaf: A Free Online LaTeX Compiler

Anthony Stefan, Mathematics, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne FL USA

Science Gateway Community Institute and SIMIODE Summer 2020 Intern

29 June 2020

LaTeX is a document preparation system for high-quality typesetting specifically useful in mathematics. Overleaf is grabbing the attention of many students and professors recently, as it is a cloud-based LaTeX compiler. Overleaf includes many features such as file organization of projects, sharing and editing of projects with colleagues, track record of edits, virtually anywhere access to all your projects by just logging in. (Similar to a Google Drive) Throughout this introduction to Overleaf, there are several links that can assist you through this process by clicking on them. 

To get started in Overleaf, you can sign up by linking your gmail, IEEE, ORCID, or twitter account. Signing up by the means of how your colleagues communicate is most optimal. With a new account you can create your first Overleaf project, if you are new to LaTeX, consider the tutorial Learn LaTeX in 30 minutes. Both of these guides are great at showing how to create a document in Overleaf and begin writing using LaTeX. 

On the Overleaf project page, one can see on the left hand side all of their current projects or just shared ones. Below that, there is the ability to “create folders” to organize your projects. When creating a new project, select “new project.” As you create projects they will appear on the center screen where you can manage them by the operations on the right (copy, download, archive, and delete) or select any of them by checking them on the left and placing them in folders or sharing them with collaborators.

When in a project there are three sections Overleaf divides your workspace into, command (left), Tex file (middle), compiler (right). The command is where documents, including images can be imported. To do this, select the ”upload” button and drag and drop files into the prompted window from your computer. The Tex file is where you may begin to write LaTeX documents, for syntax errors, Overleaf has a great guide on how to write LeTeX math expressions . That link has many sub-links to continue into math special characters and even fonts. The compiler on the right can be set to automatic or not and above the right hand side is where you can download a PDF of your project or send a sharing link to colleagues to begin collaboration on your project. To return to the Overleaf project page just click the up arrow on the far top left hand side, above the command window.     

There are upgrades available from the free version of Overleaf that includes Dropbox, GitHub, Mendeley, Zotero integrations that are available through viewing your account settings, just click “account” on the Overleaf homepage. To learn more about Overleaf, see their Documentation page, that can help you with any questions you may have. For projects and resources to consider working on visit our SIMIODE website. Enjoy using Overleaf, and LaTeX, onward!

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Anthony Stefan (2020), "How to Set Up and Use Overleaf: A Free Online LaTeX Compiler,"

    BibTex | EndNote


Footer - a work in progress.