[OS X TeX] Imposing Latex on authors of articles

David Watson dewatson at mac.com
Tue Feb 26 17:14:55 CET 2008

While I agree that there is a learning curve to LaTeX, I think that  
there are important benefits from using the typesetting system as a  

Aside from formula-writing, the entire system of automatic table/ 
figure numbering and the resolution of references to disparate parts  
of the text is overwhelmingly better.

Taking care of these internal references, or the page numbers (for  
example "see Table 2.1 on page 35") is much, much simpler. When you  
focus on the text and composition, and don't have to worry about  
correcting these references when an editor/author says "why don't we  
get rid of that table/figure," then you spend less time doing things  
unrelated to the final work.

You might say that that is the responsibility of a secretary, to spend  
an inordinate amount of time referencing and cross-referencing, and  
formatting bibliographies, or indexing your work. That is a fair  
enough argument. But why torture someone when it is completely  

If you decide that you want to switch the order of topics, lets say  
you originally had "Quantum Mechanics" ahead of "Thermodynamics" in  
your new treatise on physical chemistry, but then you decide at the  
last minute that your students might drop out if you introduce the  
topics in this order, you can readily switch the order in latex, and  
after processing the text several times, you have your entire book  
reindexed, reordered, and you don't have to worry about reformatting  
the table of contents, lists of figures, or cross-references, much  
less all of your extensive bibliography.

Again, your mileage may vary.

On Feb 26, 2008, at 8:58 AM, ludwik kowalski wrote:

> I am a new subscriber. About a week ago I successfully downloaded  
> and installed Latex software on my new iMac.  Then I started to  
> learn how to program in Latex language. So far I complied only  
> several short input files. What follows is an extract from notes I  
> am composing for myself. Do you agree with my observations? If not  
> then why not?
> Thanks in advance,
> Ludwik
> = = = = = = = = = = = =
> Item 15
> $ \int \sqrt{\alpha^{2} + x^{2}}\,dx $
> The above command will produce the integral sign followed by the  
> square root and the dx. The expression between the square brackets  
> will be changed and placed under the square root.
> 1) Typing something without seeing the representation at the same  
> time (as in writing by hand or with a word processor) seems  
> unnatural to me. Writing usually goes along with thinking; we often  
> think better when we write. There is nothing wrong with this. It  
> would probably be better not to merge the process of typesetting  
> with the process of mathematical thinking. Mental energy of users of  
> mathematics should be used on mathematics itself, not on nitty- 
> gritty rules, commands, and error messages. By learning Latex  
> language one does not become a better mathematician, physicist or  
> engineer.
> 2) In my opinion dissertations written with word processors should  
> be accepted by universities. Likewise, papers written with word  
> processors should be accepted by editors of scientific journals.  
> Neatly handwritten formulas, or formulas composed with tools  
> available in word processors, are usually sufficient to communicate  
> mathematical ideas. They can be shown as illustrations, or turned  
> into final form by professional typesetters, either manually (as it  
> used to be), or with tools like Latex. Shifting the burden on  
> authors does not seem reasonable.
> 3) Creating Latex input files with formulas is very demanding and  
> error-prone. Promoters of Latex often write that it allows  
> mathematicians to concentrate on mathematics while formatting is  
> performed by computers. Yes, formatting is performed by computers  
> but computers must be instructed by humans. Instructing computers is  
> demanding and error-prone. Composing Latex files does not help me to  
> think about mathematics, or about anything else described in a  
> document I am creating. On the contrary, it prevents me from  
> thinking about the content.
> Ludwik Kowalski, a retired physisist
> 5 Horizon Road, apt.2702, Fort Lee, NJ, 07024, USA
> Also an amateur journalist at http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/cf/

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