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How to make a paper?

  1. Dec 7, 2006 #1
    This sounds like a stupid question... probably because it is. :tongue2: But what program(s) is commonly accepted as the standard for writing and publishing papers? Obviously as an undergrad I just use Word (and Excel for the graphs) and get away with it, but when I compare the composition (not content, obviously) to real ones it looks like crud. Since I'm doing a research thesis next semester I'd like to make it look professional... so...

    What's used? LaTex? Origin? Any hints or links to the formation of a good paper would be appreciated :redface:
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 7, 2006 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

  4. Dec 8, 2006 #3


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    Always use LaTex.

    Some journals are starting to except Word but Latex looks more professional, imo.

    The link above will give you access to the revtex4 style file which is what Phys Rev use - for me this isn't want you want: the font is too small for a project thesis (eg. if I supervise work I dock points for small font - lack of consideration to reader).

    You should check out the style files supplied by Elsevier - elsart.cls

    (If you go into the elsart file you can comment out "preprint submitted to Elsevier" which will appear on the front page)

    This style has a nice large font - and can be double spaced while still looking good.

    Alternatively, just use the article class from standard LaTex - which, of course, you can also customise.

    Finally, make all your figures in postscript (eps) format - use the includgraphics command and resize box to scale them.
  5. Dec 8, 2006 #4


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    Good point... the most professional looking format (i.e. publication-ready) isn't always the most appropriate format for the purpose at hand. When I'm grading something like this, I want it double-spaced so I have plenty of room to write comments.

    Of course, if you set things up properly, it's a simple matter to produce more than one format of output from the same file, by changing one or two style settings.
  6. Dec 8, 2006 #5
    Nice way of putting it. Also note: LaTex is GREAT... but has a BIG learning curve. It's best to start by having someone else who uses it help you out on getting all the files... and give you their style and tex files for a similar document to the one you want to make... and making sure it compiles OK on your machine.

    In addition to the revtex4 style file and resources on Exclesier, if you are writing a thesis in LaTex (and if possible, I wouldn't use ANYTHING ELSE for THAT) many universities provide a style file via an internet link on their graduate schools' webpages, if you aren't lucky enough to get it from a lab-mate.

    Ghostscript freeware is also often useful for fixing small things about the format of ps/eps files... which are frequently the best format to use in LaTex. WinEdt (a downloadable that is about $20 to register) is also great for using jointly with LaTex.

    I tend to use LaTex for many documents... but (ugh... :yuck: ) Microsoft Word and Powerpoint for shorter (non-equation/non-table bound) documents (like my CV) and for presentations... although other people find and use freeware program that can produce .pdf files or similar formats.

    In that sense... I'm also a BIG fan of the complete version of Adobe's ACROBAT program... it's useful because then you can make ANY program "print" something out in pdf format. The student version is pretty cheap. :biggrin:

    I made my paper and thesis graphs in Origin (MUCH MUCH better then Excel -- which I NEVER use), printed the graphs to pdf using acrobat, converted them to eps using ghostscript, and put them into LaTex documents created in the WinEdt program (ultimately getting a pdf output when the LaTex was compiled through WinEdt). A pain :grumpy: ... but they looked best that way.
  7. Dec 11, 2006 #6


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    ...and if you don't use windows:

    latex foo.tex (or Ctrl-c-c in emacs <-- this I use for everything)
    dvips foo.dvi -o giving you a postscript document...

    or dvips -Ppdf -G0 foo.dvi
    ps2pdf -sPAPERSIZE=a4 foo.ps giving you a pdf document.

    You can pretty much get style/class files for whatever you're doing by searching Google - eg. I have one for my CV.
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