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Table of Contents

Source and main changes

Original source: A Github Pages template for academic websites by [Stuart Geiger]( []( Academicpages was forked (then detached) by [Stuart Geiger]( from the [Minimal Mistakes Jekyll Theme](, which is © 2016 Michael Rose and released under the MIT License. See

I (Eli) forked (then detached) an edited copy of academicpages from Eric Ward. I then tore into it and changed it quite a bit. I did not document all changes. The following are the major ones.

  • I added mathjax.html to _includes folder and change the default.hmtl in _layouts folder to include that. This specs which MathJax configs I want to.

  • Added some new pages into _pages and added these to navigation using _data/navigation.yml

  • Removed bullets from my publication and talks list in _pages/ and _page/ using css just in those pages.

  • Added a two column table with css to _pages/ for my education.

  • added a bunch of folders at the base level for publications, talks, blog_files (images and pdfs are here).

  • fuzted with the site css in _sass. Had to make changes in 3 places: _masthead.scss, _navigation.scss, and _variables.scss.

  • added a pdf and rmd download for posts with changes in single.html. To use, just add pdf: [url of pdf] to the yaml in a post. I added some yaml variables for posts: pdf, rmd, postname. postname is used to construct the url. pdf url is assumed to be /posts/pdfs/postname.pdf rmd is assumed to be in the repo for the website in /posts/Rmd/postname.rmd. Note postname is dynamically gotten from the Rmd file if you use the template (click on the rmd link on any post in my blog to see the Rmd file).

Instructions for using my hacked version of academicpages as your website

  1. Clone [](

  2. Enable GitHub Pages for your repository. Go to the repository’s settings (rightmost item in the tabs that start with "Code", should be below "Unwatch"). Rename the repository. If you name it [Your GitHub username]", then that will be your website’s URL: Alternatively, you could name your repository foo and your URL would be

  3. You’ll want to specify for GitHub Pages to use master. Go to your respository settings, and scroll down towards the bottom and you’ll see a section on GitHub Pages and the first option is to specify Source. Choose 'master branch'.

  4. Wait a bit for Jekyll to do it’s stuff and go to your URL to see the website.

  5. Hack away.

Making sure math works

My website has a blog and that blog is math heavy, has images and citations. The file _includes/mathjax.html has some settings for mathjax such as eqn numbers. So if you preview your Rmd files in Rstudio, you won’t see the line numbers.

I write in Rmarkdown and write math in latex. This generally works fine as long as I follow a few rules. I use my Rmarkdown to make both markdown for GitHub Pages and PDFs. It needs to just work across outputs straight from my Rmd file. I don’t want to be futzing with the markdown output by my Rmd, e.g. I don’t want to have to paste on a yaml as needed by Jekyll. Also I don’t want to be writing custom templates of mucking with pandoc templates. That just creates something that is too custom to be portable. I wasted 2 days trying that before deciding that was a) too much work and b) a bad idea.

  • Use GitHub flavored markdown for headings. Rmarkdown will understand these. In general, just write in markdown that GitHub will understand because github_document will trash your math in ways that are really hard to fix without a lot of customization of rmarkdown templates and pandoc templates.

  • To create the markdown (.md) file from rmarkdown (.Rmd) use knitr(filename). Don’t use the knit button because that calls render() and that uses pandoc. pandoc’s math latex to mathjax processor will delete the `<div>`s necessary to protect the math from Jekyll.

  • If there is no R code to process, then you can just upload the .Rmd file to _posts. Make sure the file naming is correct and the yaml is correct. See other posts for examples.

  • If the post has no math/latex but has a bunch of tables from R code, like kable(), then you can use output: github_document in the yaml and use the gfm output. I’m not sure if the tables from knit() will work in github.

  • Only use \begin{equation}\end{equation} (or align, etc). Don’t use $$. Wrap in a <div> to protect from Jekyll. so like so <div>\begin{equation}\end{equation}</div>. Note, if your \begin{equation}\end{equation} is in a paragraph with NO line feeds anywhere (not even in the equation), the \begin{equation}\end{equation} is already wrapped in a <div> from the paragraph. In that case, don’t add another of <div> wrapper. This is what an equation should normally look like:

1+1 = 2
  • You can use \$…​\$ or \\(…​\\) for inline equations. _includes/mathjax.html sets the mathjax config to allow \$…​\$. This means you need to be careful in how you use $. You might run into trouble in code.

  • Avoid using any special markdown symbols in math. Use \ast instead of "*"; Use \vert instead of "|". markdown will misinterpret these as markdown and mess up your equations. "_" is known to create problems in some Jekyll sites; there is an extension setting that will turn off "\_" as emphasis if using redcarpet as the markdown interpreter. I am using kramdown and "_" generally works unless it appears after a "}". In that case, add spaces around the "\_". So if you need this \hat{a}_{a+b} then write it like this \hat{a} _ {a+b}.

  • IF you want a bulleted or numbered list with multiple paragraphs and you have math equations in those paragraphs, you need to embed the \begin{equation}\end{equation} in the paragraph with no line feeds anywhere. So it will look like so:

    Note the leading 4 spaces.  \begin{equation}1+1=2\end{equation}. No line feeds anywhere.  All one paragraph and no <div>s around the equation.

Degugging equations that mathjax won’t process

  • First preview the md locally (via Rstudio) and see if it is a latex/markdown issue or something that Jekyll is doing in post-processing.

  • If it is a Jekyll issue, then a good bet is that the special characters in the equation are making it be interpreted as markdown.

    1. Put spaces around _

    2. Replace | with \vert and * with \ast

    3. If your equation is in a list (bulleted or numbered), no line returns in the paragraph and no <div> around the equation.

How to add a blog entry

  1. Create the blog .Rmd file in the posts directory. See other .Rmd files in that directory or template.Rmd for the yaml you need to use.

  2. Run this code. It assumes your working directory is somewhere (anywhere) in the repository for your website code.

rmd_to_gfm(filename, pdf=TRUE)

This will make the md file and put in _posts directory and make the pdf and put in posts/pdfs. You don’t need not want the html file in _posts (and rmd_to_gfm won’t make it). Jekyll on github is going to process the html from the md. knit won’t make the right html.

The rmd_to_gfm function is in _use-to-knit-rmd-file.r in the posts directory. I have it in a utils package with a bunch of other stuff for writing papers. To install eehutils (which no one except eeh would want to do…​).

  • To add a link to download a pdf of a post, set up your yaml similar to this.

title: "Title of my blog"
output: pdf_document
date: '2016-05-19'
- Fisher Information
permalink: /posts/2016/05/FI-II/
postname: '2016-5-19-FI-recursion-2'
pdf: true
rmd: true

pdf=TRUE says to add a link to the PDF and Rmd file. It will look for the pdf in posts/pdfs/ and the Rmd in posts/Rmd. You need to put the files there and they have to be called [postname].pdf and [postname].Rmd. rmd_to_gfm(filename, pdf=TRUE) (the function is in posts/Rmd) will do this automatically from an Rmd file (in posts directory).