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ACLPUB HOWTO: Putting Together an ACL Proceedings Volume

ACLPUB HOWTO: Putting Together an ACL Proceedings Volume using START V2

Who Should Read This Document

This guide to the aclpub software will help you create a single proceedings volume for an ACL-affiliated conference. Presumably, you are one of the following:

In short, you are a "book chair." This document will assume that you are specifically the program chair of a workshop, since most workshops are run like this.

Note: For our purposes, the student research workshop and the short paper session are considered to be separate logical books, even though they may be physically bound together (along with tutorial program info) into a single "companion volume."


We have tried to automate the process as much as possible. However, it still requires manual input. You should allocate 2-3 hours for this process. The final look of your proceedings is your responsibility!

By following these instructions, you will produce the following:

Here is a flowchart to illustrate the process. You will be using the START V2 ACLPUB Tool, which is a wrapper over the original ACLPUB scripts. The ACLPUB scripts used makefiles that followed the steps in this flowchart, and most operations had to be carried out manually.

Please note that you do not need to know about makefiles and Linux to run the proceedings generation. Almost everything is available from the various tabs of the START V2 ACLPUB tool.

If you still want to hand tune the result via the legacy ACLPUB scripts, you can download the package and install it on your machine. Then you can use the final submission zip archive file as input to the old ACLPUB scripts, and generate your proceedings. However, this method is not recommended.

Who's Responsible

Acknowledgments: The aclpub package and documentation were built in 2005 by Jason Eisner and Philipp Koehn, based in part on scripts by David Yarowsky that had been used for several years previously.

Setting up the Final submission page to collect the Camera ready papers

When you need to start collecting the camera-ready papers for your conference or workshop, you need to create a Custom Final Submission Page. To do that, you need to go in the Manager Console, then to the Custom Submission Page Editor.

First of all, please check that a final page for your publication does not already exist. If you are running a workshop, in fact, it may be that the Softconf people already populated an ACLPUB final submission page for you.

If a final submission page is not yet available, please create one by clicking on the New Page tab, using the "-- (ACLPUB Final Submission template) --". Please edit all the copyright information and the additional text as you wish. You may add additional textboxes, selectors, and the like to collect more information if needed.

When you are satisfied with the final submission page, you need to make it visible by activating it. To activate it, please go in the Manager Console, then Visibility/Phasing/Deadlines. Make the page the only one visible for Revision, and be sure to set a reasonable deadline for the page.

To test if the page works properly, you need to try it using the passcode of an accepted paper. To get the passcode, you can use the Spreadsheet Maker in the Manager Console.

Check Copyright Signatures

Your first job is to check that your authors signed their copyright forms via START. To create the copyright-signatures file, go on the Generate tab, and click on the Copyright Signatures button.

After pressing the button, the page will be reloaded, and you will have three links next to the button:

At this point, click on the "Download copyright signatures" link to download the copyright signatures.

DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE; it is a legal record. Please review it ASAP to make sure that appropriate signatures have been provided for all papers. Then email it to the publications chair, pointing out any papers with missing or inappropriate signatures (e.g., "Mickey Mouse"). You or the publications chair will need to extract hardcopy signatures from those papers' authors in time for their papers to be included.

If you did not use START to gather the papers, you will need to get hardcopy forms from your authors. See our copyright webpage and contact the publications chairs.

Create Metadata

Almost all the data about the papers will be maintained in a file called db (for "database"). The metadata file does not need to be generated. START will generate it and use it when needed.

Make sure to get the Page number fields right. At present, the Page number field in a db entry is only checked against the actual paper length. You will not get a second warning if you don't fix it, or fix it incorrectly, or create the db file manually without help from START.

To check the paper length, you can go into the Margins tab, and check the Page # column. If an author declared a page number different from what START can find, you will get an error message there.

Most of the times, the page number error message is due to the fact that the uploaded PDF does not have embedded fonts. If that is the case, please download the paper, print it again using a PDF printer (like Acrobat Distiller, Bullzip, or similar), check if the paper has the embedded fonts in it, and if so upload again the paper.

Get Rough Cut

Please go in the Generate Tab, and click on the Draft button. The command extracts the first two pages from each paper and adds margin markings and generates a first rough cut of the proceedings, book.pdf.

Use then the link Download Draft to download the Rough Cut.

The rough cut is not a full volume yet (e.g., no author index, and only the first couple of pages of each paper will be present). But it will reveal a number of potential problems in the automatically produced db file or the submitted PDF files.

Use Rough Cut to Check and Fix the PDF files

Flip through the rough cut. Do all the fonts in the papers display and print correctly? If not, you will need to ask the author to email you a corrected version of the PDF file.

The publications chair has probably put up a webpage with instructions for authors, based on the version at .../aclpub/doc/authors. Remind the author to consult that page.

Also ask the author for the LaTeX or Word sources, so that you can produce the corrected PDF file yourself on your machine, if necessary.

There are a few common problems:

Use Rough Cut to Check and Fix the paper information

Now you will check that the information provided by authors and inserted in the metadata file in the db are correct and correctly formatted.

Use Rough Cut to Check and Adjust Margins

If you are satisfied with author and title information after making appropriate changes in the information entered for each paper, regenerate the rough cut, by again clicking on the Draft button

The top/bottom margins of the paper are very often wrong. Unfortunately we have not yet found an automatic method to fix this. However, we have made it relatively easy for you to fix manually.

The rough-cut version of book.pdf includes a margin frame and rulers that should make it easy to detect how much each paper must be shifted to fit. Each paper is also stamped with its submission ID.

Look especially at page 2 of each paper. If the text doesn't fit within the frame, look at the top of the text to see how many millimeters it should be moved, and add a margin specification to the specific paper. To add the margin to a paper, go in the Margins tab, and click on the yellow box in the Margins column. The format of the line is

x-axis-movement y-axis-movement[,more-options]

Positive values move up and to the right. Negative values move down and to the left. For example, if the top of the text is 14mm below the top of the frame, according to the ruler, then enter the values 0 14.

Common values are:
0 6
0 -12

Horizontal correction is rarely needed. In an exceptional case, you may need to shrink a page or clip it against a specified bounding box or something. You can do this by appending some options that will be passed to the LaTeX includegraphics command, which slurps in the page as a graphical object:

0 6,scale=0.95
0 10,bb=0 90 612 792,clip

After entering the margin movement information, you can regenerate the rough cut (just click on the Draft button again) and check that everything is at the right place. Iterate until convergence.

Set Schedule (or at least order of papers)

In an ACL proceedings, papers should be ordered chronologically by their time in the program. This makes the proceedings volume useful at the conference itself.

To specify the order to be used, you need to go in the order tab. From that tab, you will be able to select if you want the Order tab to be automatically generated from the information contained in the Schedule Maker, or if you want to use the ACLPUB format for the order file.

Using the Schedule Maker to get the order

Go to the Manager console, then on the Schedule Maker, and fill a schedule for your papers. The ACLPUB script will make usage of the Days, Sections, Paper, and Generic items entries.

Events that do not correspond to papers: Breaks, opening remarks, invited talks, panel discussions, awards, etc. For each such event, you should add a Generic Item in the schedule. You can insert a Generic itemthe generic items by editing the XML file generated by the schedule maker and using the latest four columns. If the keynote speech appears in the schedule with a page describing the abstract of the Keynote, then you need to do the following:

The timing of breaks may be coordinated across all the workshops on a given day. This allows participants from different workshops to mingle over shared snacks. Please consult the workshops chair when deciding when to place your breaks.

Once you have edited the Schedule using the Schedule Maker, you can again click on the Draft button.

You are free to edit the information about the paper and the schedule whenever you want.

Using the ACLPUB format to enter the order

Your first step is to create a draft order file from the current db. To do this, click on one of the two "Import" buttons in the Order tab.

Here (roughly) is the start of the draft order file generated for the ACL 2005 main conference:

* Wednesday, June 29, 2005
+ 8:45--9:00 Opening Remarks
+ 9:00--10:00 Invited Talk by John Doe
= Session 1: Important Matters Resolved
7 10:00--10:30 # Charniak: Coarse-to-fine n-best parsing ...
20 10:00--10:30 # Liu: Log-linear Models for Word Ali...
36 10:00--10:30 # Boulis: A Quantitative Analysis of Lex...
57 10:00--10:30 # Sasaki: Question Answering as Question...
60 10:00--10:30 # Nivre: Pseudo-Projective Dependency P...
61 10:00--10:30 # Stevenson: A Semantic Approach to IE Patt...
62 10:00--10:30 # Hutchinson: Modelling the substitutability...

You should manually reorder this file and insert additional information about days, sessions, and extra events. Your final order file might begin like this:

* Sunday, June 26, 2005
+ 8:45--9:00 Opening
+ 9:00--10:00 Invited Talk by Justine Cassell
+ 10:00--10:30 Break
= Session M1R: Machine Learning and Statistical Models
215 10:30--11:00 # Ando: A High-Performance Semi-Superv...
304 11:00--11:30 # Trevor: Scaling Conditional Random Fie...
382 11:30--12:00 # Smith: Logarithmic Opinion Pools for ...
= Session M1M: Word Sense Disambiguation
228 10:30--11:00 # Curran: Supersense Tagging of Unknown ...
124 11:00--11:30 # Kohomban: Learning Semantic Classes for ...
240 11:30--12:00 # Dang: The Role of Semantic Roles in ...
= Session M1B: Generation
245 10:30--11:00 # Di Eugenio: Aggregation improves learning:...
417 11:00--11:30 # Paiva: Empirically-based Control of N...
305 11:30--12:00 # Soricut: Towards Developing Generation ...
+ 12:00--1:30 Lunch
= Session Session M2R: Parsing
403 1:30--2:00 # Matsuzaki: Probabilistic CFG with latent ...
177 2:00--2:30 # Miyao: Probabilistic disambiguation m...
65 2:30--3:00 # McDonald: Online Large-Margin Training o...
60 3:00--3:30 # Nivre: Pseudo-Projective Dependency P...

The order file can contain these kinds of lines:

Once you have edited the Schedule using the Schedule Maker, you can again click on the Draft button.

You are free to edit the information about the paper and the schedule whenever you want.

Recreate the Proceedings

Once you're satisfied with the rough cut, have a look at what the final proceedings will look like, by clicking on the Shipout button.

You can use both the Draft and the Shipout buttons as you like. When generating the files, each button works on a separate working directory, and the generations are done independently.

Edit Workshop-Specific Pages

A number of *.tex files now have to be manually edited for workshop-specific information.

To edit them, you have two ways: You can edit the files directly on the web page, in the Templates tab, or you can download and upload them in batch in the Downl Tmpl tab.

How to add logos and pictures to the template files cited above

You can completely customize the templates directory adding new pictures. To add new pictures, and in general to add separate files to the templates, you can do the following steps:

Final Onscreen Check

Regenerate the proceedings, and continue to edit the .tex files until everything looks good by clicking on the Shipout button.

Make sure that all names are spelled correctly, etc.

Just in case, check the following production issues:

Final Printed Check

Try printing the PDF file on a black-and-white Postscript printer. Just because everything works onscreen does not guarantee that it will work in the printout.

Make sure everything looks fine onscreen and prints fine! Look through the online and printed proceedings carefully. It is the responsibility of the workshop chair to make sure that everything is correct.

Create a Spine Text for the Proceedings

Edit the file spine.tex in the Templates/Settings tab to reflect the text that you want to appear on the binding of the volume. (Note: If the volume is too thin to support spine text, this file will be ignored.)

Now click on the Spine button in the Generate tab to chheck the result.

Make Your CD-ROM Directory

Now it's time to build your contribution to the CD-ROM, including HTML pages and BibTeX entries. For this, you will need to edit all the fields in the CDROM tab

Contact the publications chair for the correct value of the about the Bibtex URL field for your workshop. This determines its permament URL in the ACL Anthology.

To create the cdrom directory, click on the All button in the Generate tab.

The button also creates an advertisement webpage for your workshop (basically a copy of cdrom/program.html that has been stripped of actual links to the papers).

Wrap Everything Up and Send It Off!

Click on the All button in the Generate tab.

This will check that everything is up to date, and package up your proceedings directory as a tarball file proceedings.tgz in the parent directory.

Send ../proceedings.tgz by the deadline to the publications chair. Use an email attachment if necessary, but it would be nicer just to email an http: or ftp: URL where the proceedings.tgz file can be downloaded.

While we want the whole tarball so that we can rerun the scripts in case of problems, it is especially essential that we receive:

That is, the best thing to send is the zip file resulted from the click on the All button.

Congratulations and thank you!

This document has been derived from the instructions made by the NAACL-HLT 2009 publications chairs (Eric Ringger and Christy Doran), and then adapted to the START integration of the ACLPUB scripts.