The Memoir template is based of the LaTeX memoir package. It is optimized for long documents and is very versatile, with very different possible layouts.

The template can be highly customized by simple changes in the header of index.Rmd. This short article presents the main features of the customization. The details to implement them, namely the options in the header of index.Rmd are in the template text. Occasionally, advanced customization can be made by adding LaTeX code in the latex/preamble.tex file as described below. As a general rule, the latex/template.tex should not be modified.

Two main choices must be made:

  • The chapter and page styles. Many are proposed by memoir.
  • The way margins are used. Large margins host sidenotes rather than footnotes, bibliographic references and figure captions. Small margins remain empty.

The default options produce a small-margin document, with an elaborate chapter style. It is presented in the gallery. It can be changed quickly for a wide-margin layout, whose parameters are given in comments.

The full set of settings is described below.


Basic use

Two default cover pages are proposed.

Either insert a PDF page as the first page of the printed document, followed by a verso blank page. To do that, set the pdftitlepage option in the header of index.Rmd. Its value is the path to a PDF file whose first page will be extracted.

Or build a cover based on the options declared as maintitlepage. The title and authors of the document will be printed with the current date on the cover page. An illustration (example here can be added at the bottom right of the page, declared as filigrane:

  filigrane: images/filigrane.png

The verso page is made of an epigraph at the top and credits at the bottom. Their content must be written in plain LaTeX rather than Markdown. Build on the template.

Of course, only one of the two covers should be kept even though the template prints both. Delete or comment out the undesired option, either pdftitlepage or the whole maintitlepage.

Advanced use

A personal LaTeX cover, e.g. a faculty thesis mandatory cover, can be used by redefining the \MainTitlePage LaTeX command. This can be done in preamble.tex. This is a minimum, ugly example:

    \SmallMargins       % Margins
    \pagestyle{empty}   % No header/footer
    #1                  % epigraph
    #2                  % credits

The command is called with two parameters: the content of epigraph and credits in maintitlepage, that may be used: then, set them in the header of index.Rmd.

Note that in contrast with template.tex,preamble.tex does not support parameters based on the header of the document, such as $title$.

Chapter and page styles

Chapter styles define the way top-level titles are presented. A gallery is available.

The default chapter style of the template is daleif1. It is not actually supported natively by memoir but its code is added in preamble.tex. It proposes graphic chapter titles. It works well with the Ruled page style, with a page header that recalls the chapter and section titles. All page styles are described in the section 7.2 of the memoir manual.

An alternative is companion, both chapter and page style employed in the large margin layout template.


A4 or Letter paper with 1-inch margin on both sides imply long lines, actually too long to read comfortably. Avoid lines other 80 characters by increasing margin width. Two options are used:

smallmargin: 1.5in         # outer margin (small).
spinemargin: 1.5in         # spine margin. Reduce to 1.2 with large margins.

Large margins allow both a narrower text column for readability and putting stuff into them. Use largemargins: true to use them. The outer margin is then set to largemargin: 3in and the spine margin may be reduced a bit.

Bibliographic styles

Many bibliographic styles come with biblatex, the LaTeX package in charge of reference management. A gallery is available.

The style is selected in the options of biblatex:

  - style=verbose-inote
  - pageref=true

The default style of the template is a classical author-year style, with the ibidem option, i.e. the authors are not repeated if they are the same as in the previous reference. When large margins are available, the verbose-inote style is appropriate for the reader to have the full references close to the text, including a DOI link.

More styles can be used, including specific styles requiring an extra LaTeX package that is usually installed automatically by LaTeX distributions. The pageref option must be commented out if the chosen style does not support it or an error may occur during the LaTeX compilation of the document.

If verbose citations in large margins are wanted but another bibliographic style is desired, style can be replaced by two separate instructions for citation and bibliographic styles, such as:

  - citestyle=verbose-inote
  - pageref=true
  - bibstyle=apa

Note that the apa style requires the biblatex-apa package installed in the LaTeX distribution.


The default font of the memoir is Computer Modern (actually, an update of it), the LaTeX standard.

Other fonts may be used: the LaTeX font catalogue is their gallery. They must be installed in a LaTeX package, such as tex-gyre and its companion tex-gyre-math. Both provide updated versions of the classical:

The LaTeX packages must be installed in the LaTeX distribution. If tinytex installed it, it can do that too:

tinytex::tlmgr_install(c("tex-gyre", "tex-gyre-math"))

This command must be added to the GitHub Action script created by build_ghworkflow(), just after tinytex::install_tinytex(). build_ghworkflow() does it automatically if it recognizes the font, see below.

The fonts are declared in the header of index.Rmd. XeLaTeX is not able to find fonts by their name if they are not installed at the system level, namely when installed by packages. They must be declared by their file names, which are in general their names without spaces, in lower case. The main font options allow building the actual file names and are not likely to be changed.

mainfont: texgyretermes
  - Extension=.otf
  - UprightFont=*-regular
  - BoldFont=*-bold
  - BoldItalicFont=*-bolditalic
mathfont: texgyretermes-math.otf

The math font name is fully specified, with no options.

A monotype font may be declared to be used in code blocks, and in code included in the text. It may be monofont: texgyrecursor, completed by an identical monofontoptions list, but the default font is usually better.

Note that long tables (longtable = TRUE argument in the kable() function to render tables) may not be cut correctly across pages when specific fonts are declared.

The font size is 12pt by default. Change it if necessary, depending on the font type, the margin width and personal preferences.

GitHub Actions workflow

The memoir can be produced by GitHub Actions and made visible in GitHub Pages by the memoir.yml script (in .github\workflows) created by build_ghworklow().

The script installs tinytex, a low-weight TeXLive distribution, with the tinytex R package. Neither additional fonts nor language support beyond English are installed by default. build_ghworklow() adds the necessary commands in the script (basically, install LaTeX packages) by reading the fonts and languages options in the header of the document and recognizing the LaTeX packages they need.

Support is necessarily limited. Supported languages and fonts are listed here. Other ones can be used in a memoir, but the memoir.yml script will have to be edited manually to allow GitHub Actions to work properly.

Supported languages

The hyphenation pattern of a language must be installed in the LaTeX distribution. If it is not, text will just not be hyphenated. Supported languages are:

  • de: German,
  • fr: French,
  • it: Italian,
  • pt: Portuguese,
  • sp: Spanish.

English is supported natively.

Supported fonts

Font file names are used to find the corresponding package and install it. For instance, mainfont: texgyretermes, as all fonts whose name starts with texgyre needs the tex-gyre LaTeX package.

Supported font families are listed here with their name (the file name pattern) and their LaTeX package:

  • DejaVu (dejavu*): dejavu-otf
  • Garamond (GaramondLibre*): garamond-libre
  • Garamond Math (Garamond-Math*): garamond-math
  • KP-fonts (kp*): kpfonts-otf
  • Libertine (LinBiolinum*, LinLibertine*): libertine
  • TeX Gyre (texgyre*): tex-gyre
  • TeX Gyre Math (texgyre-math*): tex-gyre-math

Paper and stock size

Basic use

The paper size is chosen in the papersize option. Common values are “A4” or “Letter”, but many sizes are allowed by the LaTeX package memoir. They are listed in tables 1.1 to 1.3 of the manual. Note that the “letter” suffix is added automatically and must not be typed: to select “a3paper”, just type “a3” or “A3”.

The paper size (the area the document is printed on) is also the stock size (the size of the piece of paper the printer accepts).

Advanced use

If the desired paper size is not that of the stock, LaTeX allows selecting different values. The papersize option actually selects the size of the stock. To use a smaller paper size that fits in this stock, e.g. an octavo (9 x 6 inches) paper in an A4 stock, the following commands must be added to latex/preamble.tex:


The trimmed size is that of the final document: here, octavo size. The stock is trimmed to the right and the bottom and the useful paper area is at the top left of the stock by default. The \settrims command adds trims on the left and the top sizes.

In index.Rmd, set the paper stock to A4 and add the class option showtrims so that the trim marks are visible on the printed document.

  - showtrims

The printed paper will show the trim marks like this:


Large margins are optimal with the companion style and the verbose-inote bibliographic style; small margins should be used with the default options of the template. Much of memoir customization is offered by the template by choosing other styles, and possibly other fonts. If needed, some LaTeX code may be added in latex/preamble.tex, but the latex/template.tex should not be modified.