[texhax] could/should I have used TeX/LaTeX? (long post)
frauke at brandeis.edu
Thu Sep 15 21:43:21 CEST 2005
I just finishind my dissertation (also in the humanities) in TeX (plain)
and am just finishing a parallel-columns translation in plain, so I have
responses to a few of your points.
James Miller wrote:
> The first segment of my dissertation would not have posed particular
> problems, I think. There, I give a narrative description of the
> problem and how I intend to address it. Occasional Greek (both the
> uncial as well as a more regular polytonic Greek font with
> diacriticals) text appears there, as well as a bit of Hebrew (no vowel
> pointing). Some French and German is cited on occasion and there are
> various tables, some of which have images inserted in them. The first
> part of the dissertation seems like it would pose less challenges
> trying to learn and utilize TeX/LaTeX.
> The second part, however, utilizes some unusual page layouts. In
> addition, a large portion of this second part (in terms of megabytes
> on disk) is comprised of images inserted into tables--about 75 pages
> of this. The images are photographic reproductions of a manuscript I
> worked with. Other parts of this lengthy second section are
> landscape-oriented pages with either a table of four columns and 100
> rows, or two pseudo-columns containing Greek text in two different
> font faces.
I had lots of landscape tables: I simply made them as a separate TeX
file without page numbers, and had blank pages of the correct numbers in
the main document. Then I ran the blank numbered pages through the
printer again, and printed the tables on them. Crude, but effective. I
know that LaTeX lets you rotate stuff within one document, but I didn't
really have the time or inclination to switch to LaTeX.
> A screenshot of the part with the table of four columns and 100 rows
> can be seen here: http://cmiller.sdf-us.org/Exh-A.png . I had to
> landscape orient the pages so all the data I wanted to present in the
> table would fit on a single horizontal line. The layout there is not
> as complex as in the next 2 sections, so trying to do this sort of
> table with TeX/LaTeX might not be so much of a challenge.
> A screenshot of the next section--the one containing alot of Greek
> text in two parallel pseudo-columns, one of which uses the uncial font
> I described earlier--can be seen at
> http://cmiller.sdf-us.org/Exh-B.png . I refer to the two columns of
> Greek text as "pseudo-columns" because they are not really columns:
> the column starting on the right half of that page is not a
> continuation of the column on the left, but a continuation of the
> column on the right hand side of the preceding page. Likewise with the
> column on the left: it picks up from where the column on the left hand
> side of the preceding page left off. This is what could be referred to
> as a "parallel text," though that usually refers to a text with
> translation (like in the Loeb series) while this is simply the same
> text rendered in different fonts and with some minor formatting
> changes. This section should have been done as one long table of one
> row and two columns. It could not be done like this however, owing to
> OpenOffice's inability to make table columns span pages. I had to
> apply a hack using various tabs and macros to get this sort of
> parallel appearance: I didn't like having to do that, but since I'd
> already cast in my lot with OpenOffice, I carried through with it.
> Note that there is even a sort of third pseudo-column at the right
> margin with some numerals bracketed by arrows.
I don't know about parallel columns under LaTeX, but I believe they are
problematic. I have a nice little macro for this in plain (from my dad)
that I can send you if you like.
> A screenshot of the third part of this second section, the one with
> all the images of the manuscript, can be seen here:
> http://cmiller.sdf-us.org/Appfull-17.png . This was probably the most
> problematic part of the dissertation: I had to essentially recreate it
> 3 times owing to problems with OpenOffice. The problem has to do with
> positioning of the images on the page. The images vary somewhat in
> size, and I wanted them centered to page.
This isn't so hard to do, if I understand correctly what you needed.
I've done similar things with MSS pictures for presentation slides:
import them as cropped .eps, and then you can manipulate them in the
> I'm going to stop my summary there, since it's probably already become
> tedious enough. I want to ask in closing whether I might have expected
> to use TeX/LaTeX to create this document. Would there have been
> advantages over using it as opposed to the WYSIWYG program I chose?
> Specifically, how would I have dealt with the uncial font issue? Would
> I not have needed to convert that truetype font to something TeX/LaTeX
> could use first? What kind of advantages might I have had in creating
> the second part of my document with the weird page layouts using
> TeX/LaTeX? For the part with all the images I'm guessing that, to get
> the right placement of the numerals down the right side I would have
> needed to take a quite different approach: I would probably have
> needed to insert those numerals right into the jpgs using Gimp or its
> lousy commercial counterpart :), then insert the whole image, right?
You could have placed the numerals precisely in TeX, and then stuck the
image beside them: this probably would have taken a few rounds with xdvi
to get the placement right, but not really that difficult.
> I can't imagine how the right alignment could be accomplished without
> some form of WYSIWYG tool. And how about getting the right alignment
> for the text in the pseudo-columns of part 2 of the second section? I
> suppose that would be done by introducing & symbols for the column
> divider, then stipulating a line end with \\ at the end--that is, if
> the font issue could be surmounted. Since the presentation in this
> second part is highly visual, perhaps it demands an overall WYSIWYG
I think you have a general theme underlying your questions, and that is
a certain level of discomfort with imagining the layout of a page in
your head as you write. These days, you can afford a bit of a
trial-and-error approach, i.e. running a file many times and looking at
it in xdvi or gv or whatever you like, while you get a feel for it.
After a while, your TeX-eye-co-ordination will develop.
> I may end up writing other large documents like this and I'm still
> attracted by the mark-up approach and feel I have a much better
> understanding of it now. Input on how/whether I might have done those
> things I ended up doing with the WYSIWYG program will be appreciated
> and will help me decide whether to invest any more time and effort on
> TeX/LaTeX. I keep getting the impression that it's for natural science
> people or technical/engineering types more than for humanities
> scholars like myself, so input from other humanities users would be
> especially valuable.
Hope this helps!
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