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Is latex uncommon among experimental physicists?

  1. Jun 29, 2008 #1
    To put my question in perspective, I'm starting grad school in the fall, and as an undergrad I was pretty sure I wanted to be a theorist so my range of experience with experiment is limited - I like reading papers off arxiv, and it's pretty rare to pull a theory paper that isn't typeset in latex. On the other hand the couple of experimental papers that I've found relevant to my interests have been pdfs of word docs. Is latex uncommon among experimentalists, or am I just reading the wrong papers?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 29, 2008 #2

    Dr Transport

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    It depends, my advisor in a theorist and he hasn't a clue about LaTeX. People work in their comfort zonne, so you can not make any generalizations about what tools they use.
  4. Jun 29, 2008 #3
    I'm currently working in my physics department with experimental astronomers, and LaTex is definitely the tool of choice there I strongly suspect that anyone who didn't have a clue about latex would have the mick taken out of them until they did; I'll only be workng there eight weeks and it looks like I'll be learning it!
  5. Jun 29, 2008 #4
    the title of this thread sounded more exciting, than the thread proved to be
  6. Jun 29, 2008 #5


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    From what I've seen, most of the professors at my school are quite competent with latex.
  7. Jun 29, 2008 #6
    I think almost everyone in our department uses it. Its quite easy to learn. Just get an editor like LEd and a standard latex package. Then go to arxiv and look at the source of some of them. Everything is fairly straightforward, and there are a lot of shortcuts already in place for formatting.

    (just remember you have to compile before the preview pane works in LEd, "latex nameoffile.tex" at the command prompt.)
  8. Jun 29, 2008 #7


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    I've noticed the same thing at my university - while the astrophysics people are using LaTeX for their theses, the experimentalists are using Word. But you can't go wrong with LaTeX, especially with equations, and it comes out looking so much more professional. If you go into experimental physics, get ready to teach LaTeX to the rest of them when they realize how much better everything comes out. The students, that is - most of our professors know LaTeX.
  9. Jun 29, 2008 #8
    After extended periods of investigation, they discovered they prefer lambskin?
  10. Jun 29, 2008 #9
    That was the first thing I thought of when I read the thread title as well...
  11. Jun 30, 2008 #10
    I have always wanted to use LaTeX, but no one at my university taught it or used it.

    I have toyed with it in the past, but finally took steps recently to learn it. I installed or updated:

    Adobe Acrobat Reader

    and then installed (in this order):


    MikTeX is a LaTeX distro for Windows, and TeXnicCenter is a good (to my novice eye) editor and GUI for MikTeX. I've been using the "(Not so) Short Guide to LaTeX2e" as a guide to getting started.

    I already found the files I needed to do papers in APA style and have produced a few simple documents. I'm going to move on to including graphs, tables, and math.

    I now wish I had taken a week at some point in the past and just done this sooner. The documents look fantastic.
  12. Jun 30, 2008 #11
    I can also recommend mikTeX. It works really good, I on the other hand uses LEd. Now LEd can be worked almost like a real wordprocessor and not a typesetter (LaTeX is a typesetter). I strongly recommend that you actually learn the codes instead of point and click on the buttons that have the same functions. This is because you will quickly learn how to use LaTeX in very simple enviroments, like emacs.
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