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Lab report writing software? (Mac)

  1. Nov 24, 2009 #1
    Hi all,

    so... now that I have to write lab reports at uni level, I'm starting to wonder what software would be best suited for the task. Currently, my workflow goes like this:

    • iWork Pages (or MS Word) for the actual report.
    • imported LaTeX (or Mathematica) PDFs for mathematical equations
    • imported OmniGraffle PDFs for diagrams of apparatus/circuits/whatever
    • imported Excel PDFs for data-based tables/regression graphs/etc.
    • occasionally, imported Mathematica (or Grapher.app) PDFs for purely mathematical graphs

    Obviously, this is ridiculously inefficient. The way I see it, I've got the option to either learn proper Mathematica layout (which I suck at. I don't even know how to hide the input boxes I don't want...) and consolidate all my work to that (except maybe diagrams, I don't think it can do those too well), or find some other solution. Which is why I'm asking you folks.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 24, 2009 #2


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    You should use latex-- it'll be well worth taking the couple of days to learn how to use it now, especially if you're planning to go on to further study.
  4. Nov 25, 2009 #3


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    I used to use Word for the actual report, do the analysis on the data in Excel (and copy and paste the resulting graph into Word--yay for Office COM). Plus there's an add-in for Word (which I don't believe is installed by default) Equation Editor (the cut-down version of MathType which used to be the defacto high school math teacher test-writing program)

    The integrated nature of Office does come in handy sometimes.

    EDIT: Installing Equation Editor for Word:
    http://www.technipages.com/word-2007-enable-equation-editor.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Nov 25, 2009 #4
    Go for LaTeX. It has been around for as long as computers, and is completely up-to-date.

  6. Aug 17, 2011 #5
    I use LibreOffice (seems faster over OpenOffice or NeoOffice) to write up technical stuff on my Mac. It has an integrated TeX-like formula editor and is free. The drawbacks are that its spreadsheet program isn't great, and copy/paste from other spreadsheets (like Excel) don't work that well. The reason I've stuck with this so far is because of the requirement to show tables of data in the typical undergrad report. There's likely a way to import Excel into LaTeX but I couldn't figure it out.

    That said, I think all roads lead to LaTeX eventually.
  7. Aug 17, 2011 #6
    Sorry, one more thing. If possible, get away from Excel and learn a data analysis language/package that can make some sexy graphs. R, MATLAB, Gnuplot, Root, etc. are all excellent and are very useful to know in general anyway. Finally, I once tried to do everything in Maple (it has a worksheet mode like Mathematica) and it was an incredibly frustrating experience--programs like these aren't designed to write reports.
  8. Aug 22, 2011 #7

    So is LibreOffice. As a matter of fact, LibreOffice developers are mainly coming from the OpenOffice project, after Oracle mingle in the license.

    I would suggest LibreOffice, if you are looking for an office suite. It is licensed under GPL, which can only mean that it is the best in the west.

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