Original guide page for the academicpages template

(This was in the about pages, originally)

This is the front page of a website that is powered by the academicpages template and hosted on GitHub pages. GitHub pages is a free service in which websites are built and hosted from code and data stored in a GitHub repository, automatically updating when a new commit is made to the respository. This template was forked from the Minimal Mistakes Jekyll Theme created by Michael Rose, and then extended to support the kinds of content that academics have: publications, talks, teaching, a portfolio, blog posts, and a dynamically-generated CV. You can fork this repository right now, modify the configuration and markdown files, add your own PDFs and other content, and have your own site for free, with no ads! An older version of this template powers my own personal website at stuartgeiger.com, which uses this Github repository.

A data-driven personal website

Like many other Jekyll-based GitHub Pages templates, academicpages makes you separate the website’s content from its form. The content & metadata of your website are in structured markdown files, while various other files constitute the theme, specifying how to transform that content & metadata into HTML pages. You keep these various markdown (.md), YAML (.yml), HTML, and CSS files in a public GitHub repository. Each time you commit and push an update to the repository, the GitHub pages service creates static HTML pages based on these files, which are hosted on GitHub’s servers free of charge.

Many of the features of dynamic content management systems (like Wordpress) can be achieved in this fashion, using a fraction of the computational resources and with far less vulnerability to hacking and DDoSing. You can also modify the theme to your heart’s content without touching the content of your site. If you get to a point where you’ve broken something in Jekyll/HTML/CSS beyond repair, your markdown files describing your talks, publications, etc. are safe. You can rollback the changes or even delete the repository and start over – just be sure to save the markdown files! Finally, you can also write scripts that process the structured data on the site, such as this one that analyzes metadata in pages about talks to display a map of every location you’ve given a talk.

Getting started

  1. Register a GitHub account if you don’t have one and confirm your e-mail (required!)
  2. Fork this repository by clicking the “fork” button in the top right.
  3. Go to the repository’s settings (rightmost item in the tabs that start with “Code”, should be below “Unwatch”). Rename the repository “[your GitHub username].github.io”, which will also be your website’s URL.
  4. Set site-wide configuration and create content & metadata (see below – also see this set of diffs showing what files were changed to set up an example site for a user with the username “getorg-testacct”)
  5. Upload any files (like PDFs, .zip files, etc.) to the files/ directory. They will appear at https://[your GitHub username].github.io/files/example.pdf.
  6. Check status by going to the repository settings, in the “GitHub pages” section

Site-wide configuration

The main configuration file for the site is in the base directory in _config.yml, which defines the content in the sidebars and other site-wide features. You will need to replace the default variables with ones about yourself and your site’s github repository. The configuration file for the top menu is in _data/navigation.yml. For example, if you don’t have a portfolio or blog posts, you can remove those items from that navigation.yml file to remove them from the header.

Create content & metadata

For site content, there is one markdown file for each type of content, which are stored in directories like _publications, _talks, _posts, _teaching, or _pages. For example, each talk is a markdown file in the _talks directory. At the top of each markdown file is structured data in YAML about the talk, which the theme will parse to do lots of cool stuff. The same structured data about a talk is used to generate the list of talks on the Talks page, each individual page for specific talks, the talks section for the CV page, and the map of places you’ve given a talk (if you run this python file or Jupyter notebook, which creates the HTML for the map based on the contents of the _talks directory).

Markdown generator

I have also created a set of Jupyter notebooks that converts a CSV containing structured data about talks or presentations into individual markdown files that will be properly formatted for the academicpages template. The sample CSVs in that directory are the ones I used to create my own personal website at stuartgeiger.com. My usual workflow is that I keep a spreadsheet of my publications and talks, then run the code in these notebooks to generate the markdown files, then commit and push them to the GitHub repository.

How to edit your site’s GitHub repository

Many people use a git client to create files on their local computer and then push them to GitHub’s servers. If you are not familiar with git, you can directly edit these configuration and markdown files directly in the github.com interface. Navigate to a file (like this one and click the pencil icon in the top right of the content preview (to the right of the “Raw | Blame | History” buttons). You can delete a file by clicking the trashcan icon to the right of the pencil icon. You can also create new files or upload files by navigating to a directory and clicking the “Create new file” or “Upload files” buttons.

Example: editing a markdown file for a talk Editing a markdown file for a talk

For more info

More info about configuring academicpages can be found in the guide. The guides for the Minimal Mistakes theme (which this theme was forked from) might also be helpful.

This was in the formers markdown guide page

Locations of key files/directories

  • Basic config options: _config.yml
  • Top navigation bar config: _data/navigation.yml
  • Single pages: _pages/
  • Collections of pages are .md or .html files in:
    • _publications/
    • _portfolio/
    • _posts/
    • _teaching/
    • _talks/
  • Footer: _includes/footer.html
  • Static files (like PDFs): /files/
  • Profile image (can set in _config.yml): images/profile.png

Tips and hints

  • Name a file “.md” to have it render in markdown, name it “.html” to render in HTML.
  • Go to the commit list (on your repo) to find the last version Github built with Jekyll.
    • Green check: successful build
    • Orange circle: building
    • Red X: error
    • No icon: not built


Markdown guide

Header three

Header four

Header five
Header six


Single line blockquote:

Quotes are cool.


Table 1

John Doe2016Description of the item in the list
Jane Doe2019Description of the item in the list
Doe Doe2022Description of the item in the list

Table 2


Definition Lists

Definition List Title
Definition list division.
A startup company or startup is a company or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.
Coined by Rob Dyrdek and his personal body guard Christopher “Big Black” Boykins, “Do Work” works as a self motivator, to motivating your friends.

Do It Live

Unordered Lists (Nested)

  • List item one
    • List item one
      • List item one
      • List item two
      • List item three
      • List item four
    • List item two
    • List item three
    • List item four
  • List item two
  • List item three
  • List item four

Ordered List (Nested)

  1. List item one
    1. List item one
      1. List item one
      2. List item two
      3. List item three
      4. List item four
    2. List item two
    3. List item three
    4. List item four
  2. List item two
  3. List item three
  4. List item four


Make any link standout more when applying the .btn class.


Watch out! You can also add notices by appending {: .notice} to a paragraph.


Address Tag

1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014
United States

This is an example of a link.

Abbreviation Tag

The abbreviation CSS stands for “Cascading Style Sheets”.

Cite Tag

“Code is poetry.” —Automattic

Code Tag

You will learn later on in these tests that word-wrap: break-word; will be your best friend.

Strike Tag

This tag will let you strikeout text.

Emphasize Tag

The emphasize tag should italicize text.

Insert Tag

This tag should denote inserted text.

Keyboard Tag

This scarcely known tag emulates keyboard text, which is usually styled like the <code> tag.

Preformatted Tag

This tag styles large blocks of code.

.post-title {
  margin: 0 0 5px;
  font-weight: bold;
  font-size: 38px;
  line-height: 1.2;
  and here's a line of some really, really, really, really long text, just to see how the PRE tag handles it and to find out how it overflows;

Quote Tag

Developers, developers, developers… –Steve Ballmer

Strong Tag

This tag shows bold text.

Subscript Tag

Getting our science styling on with H2O, which should push the “2” down.

Superscript Tag

Still sticking with science and Isaac Newton’s E = MC2, which should lift the 2 up.

Variable Tag

This allows you to denote variables.

sdkflksdjfjsdgd g