Sharing a preprint using acmart

Posted on Mon 08 February 2021 in research

Congratulations! You just submitted a paper to an ACM conference. While you are waiting to receive peer reviews, you may want to share a preprint with your colleagues.

Here's what you should not do -- send the exact file that you created as part of your submission. This is still anonymized, contains distracting ACM metadata in the header/footer, and does not correctly indicate that this paper is unpublished and not for distribution.

Approach 1 - authordraft option

Instead, here is how to edit your TeX files to create and distribute a preprint that looks great.

Thanks to careful design of the acmart class, you can mostly just set options in your documentclass declaration.

Let's supposed you've submitted a paper to a conference that uses the acmsmall template. You might have initially declared the document class as follows:


How do you convert this into a shareable preprint?

  1. Remove anonymous. No explanation needed.
  2. Add authordraft. This option is appropriate for "author's drafts that are not intended for distribution". It adds a watermark that says "Unpublished working draft. Not for distribution" and also enables the review and timestamp options.
  3. Add review=false and timestamp=false. These options are otherwise enabled by authordraft. This is personal preference, but when sending a document to colleagues, I want the reading experience to be as close as possible to as if they were viewing a published work. Thus these options will disable the red line numbers that would appear in the left margin, and remove the timestamp that would appear in the footer.
  4. Add nonacm. This removes all ACM conference and copyright information. For the purposes of sharing with colleagues, this is just noise as you don't know that your paper will be published at any specific venue.
  5. Add screen. This isn't usually suggested in sample submissions for some reason, but is good to add now that you can, in that the PDF is compiled for the "screen" (aka, a computer...) and hyperlinks are colorized.

Here is the final result:


Approach 2 - preprint footer

Note that authordraft adds a watermark in the center of the page. If you prefer a different approach, you could instead set authorversion, which configures acmart to produce a version "for the author's personal use" (by adding a notice on the first page accordingly) -- this is something that would be appropriate for posting on your personal website for example.


But you now need to indicate in another location that this a preprint. One option is to add a custom footer.

Here is one way to achieve that. The fancyhdr package is what is used under the hood to create headers and footers in many documents including the acmart-derived layouts. After a dive through acmart.sty, it turns out that we need to set our custom footer in an AtBeginDocument block. Otherwise, since acmart sets its own fancyfoot in an AtBeginDocument block, if we defined it in our own preamble it would get redefined.

    \fancyfoot[L]{\textit{\textbf{Preprint --- do not distribute.}}}%