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When writing a document that contain some filed-specific concepts it might be convenient to add a glossary. A glossary is a list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with definitions for those terms. This article explains how to create one.

Contents

Introduction

Let's start with a simple example.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage{glossaries}
 
\makeglossaries
 
\newglossaryentry{latex}
{
    name=latex,
    description={Is a mark up language specially suited 
    for scientific documents}
}
 
\newglossaryentry{maths}
{
    name=mathematics,
    description={Mathematics is what mathematicians do}
}
 
\title{How to create a glossary}
\author{ }
\date{ }
 
\begin{document}
\maketitle
 
The \Gls{latex} typesetting markup language is specially suitable 
for documents that include \gls{maths}. 
 
\clearpage
 
\printglossaries
 
\end{document}

To create a glossary the package glossaries has to be imported. This is accomplished by the line

\usepackage{glossaries}


in the preamble. The command \makeglossaries must be written before the first glossary entry.

Each glossary entry is created by the command \newglossaryentry which takes two parameters, then each entry can be referenced later in the document by the command gls . See the subsection about terms for a more complete description.

The command \printglossaries is the one that will actually render the list of words and definitions typed in each entry, with the title "Glossary". In this case it's shown at the end of the document, but \printglossaries can be used in any other location.

Open an example of the glossaries package in ShareLaTeX

Terms and Acronyms

Usually there are two types of entries in a glossary: terms and their definitions, or acronyms and their meaning. This two types can be printed separately in your L a T e X document.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage[acronym]{glossaries}
 
\makeglossaries
 
\newglossaryentry{latex}
{
        name=latex,
        description={Is a mark up language specially suited for 
scientific documents}
}
 
\newglossaryentry{maths}
{
        name=mathematics,
        description={Mathematics is what mathematicians do}
}
 
\newglossaryentry{formula}
{
        name=formula,
        description={A mathematical expression}
}
 
\newacronym{gcd}{GCD}{Greatest Common Divisor}
 
\newacronym{lcm}{LCM}{Least Common Multiple}
 
\begin{document}
 
The \Gls{latex} typesetting markup language is specially suitable 
for documents that include \gls{maths}. \Glspl{formula} are 
rendered properly an easily once one gets used to the commands.
 
Given a set of numbers, there are elementary methods to compute 
its \acrlong{gcd}, which is abbreviated \acrshort{gcd}. This 
process is similar to that used for the \acrfull{lcm}.
 
 
\clearpage
 
\printglossary[type=\acronymtype]
 
\printglossary
 
\end{document}

In the next subsections a detailed description on how to create each one of the lists is provided.

Open an example of the glossaries package in ShareLaTeX

Terms

As seen in the introduction , terms are defined by means of the command \newglossaryentry

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage{glossaries}
 
\makeglossaries
 
 
\newglossaryentry{maths}
{
    name=mathematics,
    description={Mathematics is what mathematicians do}
}
 
\newglossaryentry{latex}
{
    name=latex,
    description={Is a mark up language specially suited for 
scientific documents}
}
 
 
\newglossaryentry{formula}
{
    name=formula,
    description={A mathematical expression}
}
 
\begin{document}
 
The \Gls{latex} typesetting markup language is specially suitable 
for documents that include \gls{maths}. \Glspl{formula} are rendered 
properly an easily once one gets used to the commands.
 
\clearpage
 
\printglossary
 
\end{document}

Let's see in more detail the syntax of each parameter passed to the command \newglossaryentry . The first term defined in the example is "mathematics".

  • maths . This first parameter is the label of this term and is used to reference it within the document with gls
  • name=mathematics . Includes The word to be defined, in this case "mathematics". It's recommended to write it in lowercase letters and singular form.
  • description={Mathematics is what mathematicians do} . Inside the braces is the definition of the current term.

After you have defined the terms, to use them while you are typing your L a T e X file use one of the commands describe below:

\gls{ }
To print the term, lowercase. For example, \gls{maths} prints mathematics when used.
\Gls{ }
The same as \gls but the first letter will be printed in uppercase. Example: \Gls{maths} prints Mathematics
\glspl{ }
The same as \gls but the term is put in its plural form. For instance, \glspl{formula} will write formulas in your final document.
\Glspl{ }
The same as \Gls but the term is put in its plural form. For example, \Glspl{formula} renders as Formulas .

Finally, to print the glossary use the command

\printglossary


Open an example of the glossaries package in ShareLaTeX

Acronyms

An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters in a phrase. Below is an example of acronyms in L a T e X

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage[acronym]{glossaries}
 
\makeglossaries
 
\newacronym{gcd}{GCD}{Greatest Common Divisor}
 
\newacronym{lcm}{LCM}{Least Common Multiple}
 
\begin{document}
Given a set of numbers, there are elementary methods to compute 
its \acrlong{gcd}, which is abbreviated \acrshort{gcd}. This process 
is similar to that used for the \acrfull{lcm}.
 
\clearpage
 
\printglossary[type=\acronymtype]
 
\end{document}

To use acronyms an additional parameter must be used when importing the glossaries package. The line to be added to the preamble is

\usepackage[acronym]{glossaries}


Once this line is added, the command \newacronym will declare a new acronym. For the sake of an example, below is a description of the command \newacronym{gcd}{GCD}{Greatest Common Divisor}

  • gcd is the label, used latter in the document to reference this acronym.
  • GCD the acronym itself. Usually acronyms are written in capital letters.
  • Greatest Common Divisor is the phrase this acronym is used for.

After the acronyms have been included in the preamble, they can be used by means on the next commands:

\acrlong{ }
Displays the phrase which the acronyms stands for. Put the label of the acronym inside the braces. In the example, \acrlong{gcd} prints Greatest Common Divisor .
\acrshort{ }
Prints the acronym whose label is passed as parameter. For instance, \acrshort{gcd} renders as GCD .
\acrfull{ }
Prints both, the acronym and its definition. In the example the output of \acrfull{lcm} is Least Common Multiple (LCM) .

To print the list of acronyms use the command

\printglossary[type=\acronymtype]

The acronyms list needs a temporary file generated by \printglossary to work, thereby you must add said command right before the line \printglossary[type=\acronymtype] and compile your document, once you've compiled your document for the first time you can remove the line \printglossary .

Open an example of the glossaries package in ShareLaTeX

Changing the title of the Glossary

If you want to change the default title of the glossary for something else, this is straightforward, two parameters must be added when printing the glossary. Below is an example.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage{glossaries}
 
\makeglossaries
 
 
\newglossaryentry{maths}
{
    name=mathematics,
    description={Mathematics is what mathematicians do}
}
... [the rest of the example is the one in the sub section "Terms"]
 
\printglossary[title=Special Terms, toctitle=List of terms]
 
\end{document}

Notice that the command \printglossary has two comma-separated parameters:

  • title=Special Terms is the title to be displayed on top of the glossary.
  • toctitle=List of terms this is the entry to be displayed in the table of contents. See the next section .

Open an example of the glossaries package in ShareLaTeX

Show the glossary in the table of contents

For the glossary to show up in the table of contents put

\usepackage[toc]{glossaries}


in the preamble of your document

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage[toc]{glossaries}
 
\makeglossaries
 
 
\newglossaryentry{maths}
{
    name=mathematics,
    description={Mathematics is what mathematicians do}
}
[...]
 
\begin{document}
 
\tableofcontents
 
\section{First Section} 
 
[...]
 
\printglossary
 
\end{document}

Open an example of the glossaries package in ShareLaTeX

Compiling the glossary

To compile a document that contains a glossary in ShareLaTeX you don't have to do anything special, but if you add new terms to the glossary once you compiled it, make sure to click on Clear cached files first (drop-down menu next to "Download" button).

If you are compiling the document, for instance one called "glossaries.tex", in your local machine, you have to use these commands:

pdflatex glossaries.tex

makeglossaries glossaries

pdflatex glossaries.tex

Open an example of the glossaries package in ShareLaTeX

Reference guide

Styles available for glossaries

The command \glossarystyle{style} must be inserted before \printglossaries . Below a list of available styles:

  • list. Writes the defined term in boldface font
  • altlist. Inserts newline after the term and indents the description.
  • listgroup. Group the terms based on the first letter.
  • listhypergroup. Adds hyperlinks at the top of the index.

Open an example of the glossaries package in ShareLaTeX

Further reading

For more information see: