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Thesis writing

  1. Jun 25, 2008 #1
    I am about to write a thesis. I was just wondering whether Scientific workplace is the best software to write a thesis or MS Word. Any advice wouuld be welcome.
     
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  3. Jun 25, 2008 #2

    cristo

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    I don't know what Scientific Workplace is (is it some software based on latex typesetting?), but I would not use Word. Of course, it depends what sort of thesis you are writing; i.e. whether it's mostly mathematics, or mostly words.
     
  4. Jun 25, 2008 #3
    I think most people would recomend that you learned LaTeX, it has the most posibilities and it always looks good. It can be a bit difficult in the start, but as you learn it (as you clearly will writing a whole thesis) it will become very fast.
     
  5. Jun 25, 2008 #4
    As mentioned, LaTeX is the standard. You could simply learn the syntax itself or use a processor such as LyX (http://www.lyx.org/).
     
  6. Jun 25, 2008 #5

    ZapperZ

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    Your question here is a bit vague because you did not really give further details on what and where. Note that for most schools here in the US, there is a certain requirement on the format and typesetting that every thesis produced at that school must follow. This includes the width of all the margins (left, right,top, bottom), the font size, the spacing, the formatting of formulas, the numbering of equations, etc. In fact, a lot of schools have a ready-made template for students to use, be it a Word template or a LaTex template. So unless you are indicating that your school does not have such a requirement, then your question can't really be answered because you actually have no choice in what you can use.

    I would use Scientific Word or Scientific Workplace to format complicate LaTex equations or tables that I then insert into a LaTex document. If you do not have a specific formatting or typesetting requirement for your thesis, then I suppose you can use anything you like.

    Zz.
     
  7. Jun 25, 2008 #6

    Andy Resnick

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    The only recommendation I have for writing a thesis is to use EndNote or something similar- keeping track of 250+ references (including the format) required me to set aside a whole month.
     
  8. Jun 25, 2008 #7
    I did it in Word, but I would have preferred to do it in something that worked better. There were a lot of strange kludges to work through in getting things to work right in Word.

    I never had a class or experience with TeX, and no one around me knew it, so I was dead in the water there. I didn't even know at the time whether it would be easy or hard to adjust a TeX document to conform to the thesis standards at my university.

    If you do it in word, I'll be glad to give you some tips from my recent (last few years) experience.
     
  9. Jun 25, 2008 #8

    Choppy

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    I've used LaTex and MS Word. In general, LaTex has a steeper learning curve and required you to write code and then compile the document (at least the version I used many moons ago) - which was annoying. Once you get the hang of it though, it's pretty straight forward and it eliminates a lot of the fiddling and tweaking necessary with MS Word necessary to come out with a nice looking document.

    MS Word on the other hand was pretty straight forward. I wouldn't use it without something like ENDNOTE thought. Keeping track of references by hand is a collossal waste of time and energy. ENDNOTE is also handy for conducting quick literature searches.
     
  10. Jun 25, 2008 #9
    I would use Corel WordPerfect and Mathtype (Latex/MathML typesetting program). In my opinion, which I think is very well factually based, WordPerfect is much better for typesetting and managing large documents than Word, although they both have a similar set of features. WordPerfect also has the advantage of converting to a PDF without extra software.

    But, if there is an electronic submission format requirement, you should use whatever the native program is for that format (for instance, you cannot count on WordPerfect to keep a document with complex typesetting intact when converting to Word format).

    Also, the reference manager suggestion seems very good.

    If you are going to be making an extremely complex document, you might want to use desktop publishing software instead of a word processor. WordPerfect seems reasonably good at typesetting. Word seems barely adequate. Something like PageMaker is more ideal for extremely graphically complex work.
     
  11. Jun 25, 2008 #10
    LaTex is the most accepted and once learned the easiest.

    Its mainly used on Linux OS but it sounds like your running windows.

    You can download Latex online for free. emacs is a good editor for windows and MikTex has a lot of packages for windows. Theres plenty of books on learning this. Check out Leslie Lampoon's book (I think thats her name).
     
  12. Jun 26, 2008 #11

    Dick

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  13. Jun 26, 2008 #12
    Maybe it is because Microsoft Word switches formats every three to five years, and conversion is less-than-ideal.

    OOF, WordPerfect, LaTex are a lot more consistent in comparison. Even PDF is mostly backwards compatible with earlier versions (minus some newer features). Try opening an Office 2007 document in 2003 or Office XP.
     
  14. Jun 26, 2008 #13

    Dick

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    All true. But you really can't beat TeX for typesetting complicated math formulae. You can kludge them in any system if they aren't so complicated. Just ask Donald Knuth, it was made for this. The others weren't. Sure, there is a learning curve. You'll get over it.
     
  15. Jun 26, 2008 #14

    Hootenanny

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    For those who aren't comfortable with writing documents using latex by hand, Open Office 2.4 can generate decent latex code (including all formulae, images and diagrams) from a standard Open Office Document.

    To export a latex2e .tex file:

    File > Export > latex2e

    Note that this still only outputs the latex source, you still would need to compile the document (into PDF, PS, DVI) using a compiler.
     
  16. Jun 26, 2008 #15
    Hoot, why would you export from OOo to LaTeX? I mean, I can see doing so if you're comfortable in LaTeX and you want to convert a file, but I don't see why you would do that just so you can compile the document. Why wouldn't you just print to PDF or print the document outright from OOo?
     
  17. Jun 26, 2008 #16

    Hootenanny

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    To be honest when I wrote the previous post, I didn't consider the possible motives for doing so, I just thought that it was a neat feature. However, I would say that Latex produces nicer looking mathematical formulae than Open Office. Perhaps it would also be useful if you were writing a report as part of a collaboration, in which the final report was to be outputted as Latex.
     
  18. Jun 27, 2008 #17
    Just to throw another option on the table...

    When I wrote my thesis I used MS Word and bought an addon called Ribbit which allows you to write things in LaTeX and input into Word as an image. Worked pretty well for me and it was a lot easier than trying to figure out one of the free LaTeX programs available. Well worth the money to me at the time.
     
  19. Jun 27, 2008 #18

    cristo

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    I don't really understand how so many people are scared of latex; it took me a day to get used to making a document, and probably a week or so to feel completely comfortable. After that, it makes things way easier than using word or any equivalent.
     
  20. Jun 27, 2008 #19
    :yuck:

    Definitely. Nothing more fun than getting to the end of a huge paper and noticing something is wrong with your citations.

    *cough*markuplanguage*

    It looks big and scary if you haven't done anything with code or markup. It's really easy to learn, at least at the basic level. Getting complicated formatting to work out can take more effort if you're new to it. On the other hand, would you rather spend a bit of time learning how to make LaTeX do what you want, or try it in Word and have it move your figure captions to random places?
     
  21. Jun 27, 2008 #20

    Moonbear

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    I want to emphasize Zz's comments. Use whatever your institution tells you to use. The final version will need to be compatible with whatever system they have for uploading/submitting it (now that that's often done electronically rather than in paper form...when we submitted paper copies, there were even rules on exactly what percentage of cotton the paper needed to be and it had to be watermarked to show that so it would be archive quality).

    If there are no institutional guidelines, ask your mentor or committee members, because they need to be able to read the drafts as you send them.

    If they for some reason have no preference (and that's highly unlikely), then use the format most likely to be used by the journals where you would submit the final work, since the goal would be to publish each of your dissertation chapters as a journal article.
     
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