[XeTeX] (Xe)LaTeX output in a non-(Xe)LaTeX scholarly community

Gareth Hughes garzohugo at gmail.com
Fri Oct 22 16:42:49 CEST 2010

McCollum, Adam wrote:
> Dear list members,
> I realize that for publications in math and the sciences using TeX,
> etc. has been common, and perhaps even strongly encouraged or
> required, for many years. It is, alas, not yet at least, so in the
> humanities generally. Thanks to XeLaTeX's ability to work well with
> non-Latin scripts, it is perhaps becoming better known in the fields
> in which I work (Semitic and other eastern languages), but it is
> still somewhat of a surprise, I think, to find colleagues who hear
> "LaTeX" and do not respond with, "What?"! I am writing to ask for
> some thoughts on the predicament of using and enjoying XeLaTeX in my
> work, but not really being able to employ it for anything that will
> be published, since essentially every publisher wants only a .doc or
> .rtf file.

Dear Adam,

Yes, we're in the same predicament: effectively, all potential
publishers want .doc files for submissions. This is useful for the
publisher who wants to let a copy editor play around with the text so
that it meets the house style. Most of the editors in the humanities
wouldn't know what to do with a .tex source file. So, publishers want an
easily editable source file, then they use professional typesetting
software and fonts to produce a PDF for printing. Having worked on
publications through OUP, I think this is the way most of these things
work. If you send a publisher a PDF, they can't edit it (easily and
neatly), they can't easily change your cheap fonts for their expensive
ones, and they can't easily change the layout of the page to book size
with crop marks etc.

There are tools for producing .rtf files from TeX sources, but they're
not nice, particularly because they don't usually understand all the
commands you're using. If you've gone to all the trouble of producing a
good TeX source, why ruin it by trying to squish it into a flaky .rtf?
This could be useful to give the copy editor a visual PDF alongside an
editable .rtf. Either publishers work out how to handle .tex source
files, or they allow authors to do most of the setting themselves (which
latter is what happened with Donald Knuth as far as I recall), or they
let us do it. Somehow I can't see publishers agreeing to send us
hundreds of pounds worth of professional fonts and stand down the
professional typesetters.

It's certainly worth talking with publishers about the problem. Even
though we're traditionally responsible for the text and they for the
context, it has always been a matter of negotiation and compromise. In
the end, the publisher wants something that looks good and fitting and
makes them money. If we can encourage them to work with us using TeX by
showing them the improved results, that's probably the way to move
ahead. Because, I've got all these journal articles in front of me,
published by publishers who specialise in our field, but the errors and
general clumsiness are glaring.


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