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Standards on LaTeX (Was RE: st: math fonts/symbols)

From   "Clive Nicholas" <>
Subject   Standards on LaTeX (Was RE: st: math fonts/symbols)
Date   Sun, 13 Nov 2005 23:27:21 -0000 (GMT)

Nick Cox replied to Richard Williams:


> Second, let's please get away from any kind of
> elite vs non-elite thinking. The TeX/LaTeX argument is
> encouraging: you get much better documents this way!
> The learning curve for doing mathematical typesetting
> under TeX/LaTeX may differ somewhat from that under Word,
> but there are many advantages to the first route. Everything
> I learned about TeX when I first started 16 years
> ago still holds. In the mean time my colleagues have
> experienced about four or five word processors or
> equivalent.

I'm foursquare behind Nick's view about the benefits of TeX/LaTeX (I can't
speak with any authority about TeX, but I'm beginning to see these small
LaTeX acorns for myself with my constant 'trial-and-error' tests using
LaTeXEditor, with my thanks to fellow Statalister, Jean Ries. Note that
there are _two_ LaTeXEditors out there: I have the free one devised by Shu
Shen that doesn't give you a live document preview!). What Nick doesn't
mention, of course, is that the learning environment for picking up the
LaTeX habit has improved immensely since when he first learned it.
Although there were a couple of books on it, the massive LaTeX Companion
wasn't available (correct me if I'm wrong, although the official LaTeX
User's Guide and the TeX Book was), and you couldn't turn to the 'Net to
scour for practically scores of good PDF articles and (unofficial)
introductory user guides, which can you now access, and by far the pick of
these is available at

Basically, the lot of LaTeX users is much better nowadays, and that will
only get better once the much-trumpeted LaTeX3 becomes available (which is
meant to be soon, but then people have been saying this for at least the
last year! :)).

I do sympathise with Richard Williams' take on the professional use of
LaTeX as far as journal submissions are concerned. In my field, no
journals on this side of the pond advise about submissions in LaTeX. Those
that _do_ mention LaTeX are always American journals. As a brief exercise,
I've looked at the submission requirements of 20 political science
journals that cover my specialist areas: seven of these are American, one
is international and the rest are British. Of the 15 which demand papers
to be submitted online in one form or another (five of whom mention by
PDF, though often as a choice), only Political Analysis and the American
Journal of Political Science specify how LaTeX files should be submitted,
although the latter still prefer submissions to be sent in MS Word or
WordPerfect format. Three of the British journals I looked at still ask
for paper submissions only (which, in 2005, I find astonishing), and many
ask for submissions in MS Word. In sum, requirements vary, and LaTeX, for
now, doesn't really feature. Perhaps this will change in the future.

OK, that's me finished on the subject of LaTeX, before Marcello gets
really, really cross!

CLIVE NICHOLAS        |t: 0(044)7903 397793
Politics              |e:
Newcastle University  |

Whereever you go and whatever you do, just remember this. No matter how
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