I just posted a new answer on the question on dynkin diagrams and was asked:

Is it OK for me to include [the diagrams] into the paper on this subject?

The answer is, of course, "Of course", and I directed the person to the link at the foot of the page.

Reading the links myself, it seems that we need to decide what "proper attribution" is for such things. I would hazard a guess that we'll actually want to define a few different levels of attribution.

  1. Very minor stuff, such as what package to use
  2. Stuff that actually involves putting in some code, but is "low level"
  3. Really obvious stuff, like diagrams and complicated layouts

I'm tempted to say that for (1), attribution isn't required, though a nod to tex.SX in the acknowledgements would be nice, whilst for (3) I'd go for something more formal. Of course, the real question is where to draw the boundaries!

As well as credit-where-credit's due, there's also the principle of attribution-as-advertising, so although we don't want to cripple someone's paper by requiring every last hack to be properly attributed, we'd still like a mention.

Thoughts? Suggestions on format, citation type?

3 Answers 3


I've assumed that the same approach applies as on c.t.t => if you post it, you accept that people can do whatever they fancy with it. Perhaps this is just me!

  • Certainly people can do whatever they like with it, but according to the license, they need to attribute it. Partly this is just Good Form, but also it's good advertising for us. Nov 15, 2010 at 19:15
  • @Andrew: Well, reading the license it says 'in the manner specified by the author'. So 'if you feel like it' would cover it for me :-)
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Nov 15, 2010 at 19:49
  • 1
    it would for me too, at least on a personal level (though I wouldn't mind a bit of fame and glory for some of the pictures I've done!), but I'm also thinking that here's an opportunity for a bit of cheap advertising. Nov 15, 2010 at 20:04

First of all, the license obviously only applies to things that are covered by copyright at all. This might of course vary by the country in which you are. For example US copyright law has a big fair use exemption.

Any even sligthly reasonable¹ copyright law will not apply to (1) and probably also not to isolated usage of (2) or even (3).

Second, the footer already has a link on „attribution required”: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/06/attribution-required/ which is fairly specific.

¹ I don't want to get into a discussion of what a “reasonable” copyright law is.

  • The stuff there is fine for reposting on the web, but I was thinking more about reusing code in a document or package.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Nov 15, 2010 at 21:05
  • I'd argue that in most cases this isn't a problem because the used code isn't covered by copyright at all or can be used under fair use (of course it never hurts to add attribution even if you don’t have to).
    – Caramdir
    Nov 16, 2010 at 5:41

In the acknowledgements, one could put a text like

This paper was typeset using TeX, the typesetting program developed by D. E. Knuth, and various extensions thereof. The author(s) would like to acknowledge the help received from various users on TeX.SE (tex.stackexchange.com), specifically the following questions were instrumental in providing the typesetting tricks used in this paper: blah, blah, blah.

Would that be enough? or should there be a direct link? Is the last phrase actually needed? It might be too specific...CW, so people can change if they like.

  • 3
    I don't think DEK would agree that he (initially) developed LaTeX. Nov 15, 2010 at 18:21
  • Yeah...I know, OK. I'll put the correct version and see what people think.... Nov 15, 2010 at 22:27

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