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B Publishing: LibreOffice or Latex?

  1. Jul 4, 2017 #1
    Firstly, sorry I didn't know where was the correct place to put this. I'd like to know from publishers or published authors etc.

    I've just started writing a textbook on school maths. Preferrably I would like to use LibreOffice, but I could use Latex too. Do publishers prefer Latex, or would using LibreOffice be fine too?
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  3. Jul 4, 2017 #2
    I use LaTeX for everything I write, both books and papers. That said, I do it the easy way, with a front end program called Scientific WorkPlace sold by Mackichan.com. I have used it about 30 years, and I strongly recommend it. I would not even think about going any other way.
  4. Jul 4, 2017 #3
    I my humble experience I would go with Latex over any of the word processing type packages, especially for scientific publications. Latex will give you a very beautiful publication which looks the way you want it with nice equations the way you want them. Libra and other word processors like that (even Microsoft Word) can have a lot of trouble with large documents, especially book sized ones, and once they start to go wrong it can take a lot of time sorting out the problems. Latex has a steep learning curve but IMHO you will be much happier with the output in Latex.

  5. Jul 5, 2017 #4
    Thanks I'm quite poor with technology, so I prefer LibreOffice.

    I've always struggled with getting images into Latex documents so that it all looks correct, and I'm going to need literally hundreds for this book I'm writing.

    Also the MikTex package I'm using isn't installing packages properly like it should, or compiling pdfs properly, which is really frustrating me.

    There are also some minor editing/layout things about Latex I don't like, where other programmes like LibreOffice give you more freedom (Latex assumes you're an editing imbecile, and the code knows better).

    If I wrote my book with Latex, would the publishing company (assuming I can get one) be willing to work to fix it up? Or do they expect you to do it all, and give it to them ready-to-print?
  6. Jul 5, 2017 #5


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    As @cosmik debris says, MS Word can become a nightmare on a large document. LibreOffice is probably similar since it is a MS clone. My experience is that it is better to use something that you can specifically control and keep it as simple as possible. The results may not look as fancy, but you can get the job done. Don't worry too much about getting the format exactly a certain way. Several times, I have had to give up on large Word documents and start over with another system where I could specifically control the markup language and keep it simple.
  7. Jul 5, 2017 #6
    Ok I'll stick with Latex. Only trouble is finding someone who can help you in plain English when you've got a problem:rolleyes:

    Thanks guys.
  8. Jul 5, 2017 #7
    Yeah, I'm already encountering difficulties with Latex. Imbedding an image in a block of text is a real pain in the neck. The "Figure" label is wandering all over the place, causing havock.
  9. Jul 5, 2017 #8
    I mentioned Scientific WorkPlace in post #2. The whole point of this front-end package is to let you focus on the writing, knowing that format issues can be easily adjusted/revised after it is all written. The key thing in the early stage is to get your ideas down as clearly as possible, not to be side-tracked with format issues. By simply invoking a different style at the end, the entire format can readily be changed, but none of that matters in the early stages when you are just trying to get your ideas together in a coherent form.

    Currently, I am revising a textbook I published almost 30 years, originally done in AppleWriter on an Apple II+ (nightmare software!). It is so vastly much easier using LaTeX, and my progress is much faster. I'm using a pre-defined book style (Linda Gilbert's Book, if that means anything to you), but I can change the whole thing in moments by switching to a different style. I really urge you to check out this possibility. It does cost a few $$ up front (I get nothing out of that), but if you make the investment, you'll never look back at Word or a clone.
  10. Jul 5, 2017 #9
    Haha! Thanks Dr.D.

    I'm just really terrible with tech. I couldn't install Latex packages on my own, that's why I got Miktex, and I have to clue how to compile the pdf output either, which is why I use Winshell.

    And that's why I wanted to do this book in LibreOffice, cos it's easier to understand. I'm a real techno-phobe. No offence!

    Plus I've just seen the prices :wideeyed:
  11. Jul 5, 2017 #10


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    If you are in complete control of the document, LibreOffice should be Ok. I recommend that you keep the formatting as simple as possible. My big problems with Word (which LibreOffice mimics) occurred when I merged inputs from several people and sources that all had different formatting. A typical nightmare was that I could correct a format on page 231 and not notice till a week later that it messed up a format on page 52. So almost every change might mess up something in a completely different part. If you are writing the entire thing and just use the simple standard styles and formats, you will probably have no problems.
  12. Jul 5, 2017 #11


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    The OP might like Lyx: https://www.lyx.org/
    It has some of the characteristics of Scientific WorkPlace and it is free.

    I would not recommend using a standard word processor for mathematics, for reasons that were already mentioned above.
  13. Jul 5, 2017 #12


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    I second @Krylov 's recommendation of Lyx. If you use LaTex, you will want to use something like Lyx. I don't have a lot of experience with Lyx, but I made a couple of small (under 25 pages) documents with relative ease.
  14. Jul 6, 2017 #13
    Think I'll stick to Latex. Don't really want to be learning a new program, on top of Libre Draw and Geogebra I'll be using to make the images.
  15. Jul 6, 2017 #14


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    You can use "flags" if you don't already. For example, add your figures with


    This wasn't what you asked, but thought it could help you later on.
  16. Jul 6, 2017 #15
    Yeah, after much googling I finally got something going:


    All for a picture of some triangles with no caption, lol.
  17. Jul 15, 2017 #16
    For me LaTeX is the way to go. I tried switching to word processors for a while but very quickly came back to LaTeX for publications both large and small. In general I find formatters such as LaTeX much more flexible and robust. And once you get the hang of LaTeX it just gets easier. There are also a lot of "quick start" documents, tutorials and references available for LaTeX online for free. They will get you up to speed pretty fast.
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