Comments on: How to write a mathematics paper
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper/
Comments on Ask MetaFilter post How to write a mathematics paperMon, 18 Jun 2007 18:00:19 -0800Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:00:19 -0800en-ushttp://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss60Question: How to write a mathematics paper
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper
I need to write a document with a lot of algebraic formulas. What word processor / page layout program would make this quickest and <b>easiest</b>? <br /><br /> I use Windows, and have available Word, OpenOffice, PageMaker 7.0, and InDesign CS2 (whether it's layout or word processor software is not a big deal). I'd like to be able to set algebraic equations quickly and with minimum fuss so I can concentrate on the flow and writing (square roots, fractions, etc).<br>
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I know LaTeX (protext?) is often recommended for math, but I am worried about overkill and a steep learning curve. I'm not typesetting a calculus textbook or anything like that.<br>
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I am most used to PageMaker, but it has laughable math support. I considered finding a utility that creates a formula and spits out a TIF to embed in the document, but I nixed it as it could get excessively time consuming.<br>
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What would work best? I can consider cheap shareware or freeware (this is not for a professional project).post:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086Mon, 18 Jun 2007 17:47:38 -0800rolypolymanalgebramathtypesettinglayoutwordprocessorpagemakerBy: likedoomsday
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978500
I'd recommend learning the bare-bones basics of LaTeX, which is really quite intuitive. It took me about ten minutes to pick up enough to typeset more or less anything that would come up in algebra, calculus, and physics. You can consult any of a number of resources (my favorite being Tobias Oetiker's guide at http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/info/lshort/english/lshort.pdf, which has a great chapter on math) as references.<br>
Then, the easiest way to deal with it if you're just embedding formulae in a document is to use Art of Problem Solving's TeXer at http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/LaTeX/AoPS_L_TeXer.php which will output GIFs. You can just copy and paste them into your program of choice.<br>
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An alternative would be MathType (http://www.dessci.com/mathtype/), but it's a little pricey at $97, or $57 for academic users.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978500Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:00:19 -0800likedoomsdayBy: aeighty
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978502
Check out <a href="http://wiki.lyx.org/Windows/Windows">Lyx</a>, it's very powerful (and free) and should do what you need. I've used it for a few math homeworks..comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978502Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:08:50 -0800aeightyBy: futility closet
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978528
OpenOffice ain't bad, if the math isn't too hairy.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978528Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:34:35 -0800futility closetBy: mebibyte
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978533
I'll second LyX. It's all the power of LaTeX with a (passable) UI on top. LaTeX pretty much is the best solution for typesetting math, and is definitely worth learning - the markup is simple and mostly intuitive, a lot of resources exist for reference (lshort.pdf is great, as likedoomsday mentioned), it's free as in speech, usable for things outside of math, and the documents you produce will look *very* professional.<br>
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Highly reocmmended :)comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978533Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:44:38 -0800mebibyteBy: randomstriker
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978534
Mathematica has the most effective and efficient interface, by far. I haven't required its use in a while so I don't remember the exact keystroke, but they're something like CTRL-_ (underscore) to start a subscript, CTRL-^ to start a superscript, CTRL-/ to insert a division operator, etc. After learning a few keystroke combinations you can type in symbolic equations as quickly as you could write them with pen and paper. And of course Mathematica allows you symbolic evaluation and manipulation. It is used in high-end academic and industrial research and can handle any mathematical expression you throw at it.<br>
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The full version is expensive, of course. But you can get student editions like Calcenter for $99 for a full-license, or $59 for a year, or even $39 for one semester.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978534Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:45:08 -0800randomstrikerBy: randomstriker
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978535
By the way, the best part about Mathematica is that it automatically formats everything like you would expect it to appear in a scientific journal or textbook. Assuming that's what you want (if not, it can do it other ways too).comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978535Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:47:03 -0800randomstrikerBy: Kadin2048
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978537
Latex is really not overkill for what you're talking about. I've never written a math book, but I used it frequently when I was doing things that had equations. (I tried, just once, to use the Equation Editor in MS Word, and swore never again. If I have to put equations into a Word document, I do them in Latex and paste them into Word as graphic objects.)<br>
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Latex can *look* a little daunting but it's really pretty easy. Any decent editor will come with predefined templates, that let you basically go through and fill in your information, and just start typing the body text. And there's a vast body of knowledge available online about it, so that I've never had a problem that wasn't immediately solved by Googling.<br>
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There are some neat "cheat sheets" (here's <a href="http://www.stdout.org/~winston/latex/">one</a>, although there are many others) to tack up while you're learning the ropes, although again, I urge you not to be daunted by the commands you don't recognize. <br>
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Plus, knowing how to type up a few equations in Latex or its derivatives is a valuable skill, and one that you'll probably use more than once. I think this is a good opportunity to get your feet wet.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978537Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:47:32 -0800Kadin2048By: Blazecock Pileon
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978539
I third Lyx.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978539Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:48:37 -0800Blazecock PileonBy: janell
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978541
LyX is faster for inputs than Mathematica, and its certainly free-er in every sense. It's slower and more tedious to use than doing straight-up LaTeX markup, but still pretty easy, and you can include regular markup (if you want).comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978541Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:51:54 -0800janellBy: rolypolyman
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978544
OK, I'm leaning towards Lyx and LaTeX, but can anyone offer any insight about how I'd fare in OpenOffice Writer?comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978544Mon, 18 Jun 2007 18:57:24 -0800rolypolymanBy: muddgirl
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978558
MathType is really my go-to program for this sort of thing. It's unbelievable quick and seamlessly integrated with MS Word. I don't think I could have graduated from college in time without it. Really, if you compare it to a Mathematica license (Ha!), it's practically free.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978558Mon, 18 Jun 2007 19:20:19 -0800muddgirlBy: muddgirl
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978560
Actually, this looks promising: <a href="http://www.openoffice.org/product/math.html">a Math component for Open Office</a> Writer that looks similar to what I was doing with MathType. I don't have OO installed any more, or I'd try it out and give you a mini-review.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978560Mon, 18 Jun 2007 19:22:49 -0800muddgirlBy: solotoro
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978562
Just to throw another option out there, I've been reasonably happy with <a href="http://mathcast.sourceforge.net/home.html">MathCast</a>.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978562Mon, 18 Jun 2007 19:26:45 -0800solotoroBy: devilsbrigade
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978570
If you have access to school systems, a lot will have Mathematica installed on linux/unix clusters, which you can ssh/remote-x into.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978570Mon, 18 Jun 2007 19:36:31 -0800devilsbrigadeBy: killdevil
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978576
<a href="http://www.dessci.com/en/products/mathtype/">MathType</a>.<br>
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Mathtype is a WSYWIG equation editor that snaps into MS Office (and a variety of other Windows software. It has no learning curve, basically.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978576Mon, 18 Jun 2007 19:39:46 -0800killdevilBy: killdevil
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978579
Err, WYSIWYG. What you see is what you get. &c.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978579Mon, 18 Jun 2007 19:40:44 -0800killdevilBy: beandip
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978583
I made it through college with Microsoft Word and Equation Editor. It's very easy to use if you're familiar with Word. Just search the Word help file for "equation editor" to see how to install and use it.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978583Mon, 18 Jun 2007 19:47:46 -0800beandipBy: Neiltupper
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978592
Microsoft Word Equation editor is a subset of MathType.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978592Mon, 18 Jun 2007 20:05:23 -0800NeiltupperBy: version control
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978593
OpenOffice Writer should definitely do the trick for basic stuff, and the reference tables are really helpful. I've used it for discrete math, combinatorics, and logic classes and rarely do I run into something I can't figure out how to do. If you choose to use Writer, {} are your friends!comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978593Mon, 18 Jun 2007 20:14:48 -0800version controlBy: ROU_Xenophobe
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978600
<i>I made it through college with Microsoft Word and Equation Editor.</i><br>
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Equation editor is unsuited to serious work. It occasionally barfs and renders your equations garbage, and uneditable garbage to boot. This has actually happened to me, and was one of the final straws that drove me to the arms of LaTeX.<br>
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If you will only need to do equations occasionally, and this is not an important project, LaTeX would be overkill (though LyX might not).<br>
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If you're in a position where you're going to need to write more academic-style papers, articles, or books, it would not be overkill to start learning LaTeX now.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978600Mon, 18 Jun 2007 20:22:35 -0800ROU_XenophobeBy: lukemeister
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978632
There are several excellent, free LaTeX editors for Windows - I've used Winedt and TeXnicCenter. There's also <a href="http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail/LEd_LaTeX_Editor/1127906716/1">LEd</a>, which I haven't tried, but it seems to be getting rave reviews.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978632Mon, 18 Jun 2007 21:23:30 -0800lukemeisterBy: ROU_Xenophobe
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978664
I like winedt, and use it, but it ain't free. It's nagware, and the nag is actually annoying, unless they've changed something in the most recent version.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978664Mon, 18 Jun 2007 22:08:13 -0800ROU_XenophobeBy: anaelith
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978780
OpenOffice is pretty intuitive to use (for maths). Since you've already got it installed why not give it a go for a page or two, and see how it works out?comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978780Tue, 19 Jun 2007 04:55:17 -0800anaelithBy: that girl
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978790
LaTeX is generally pretty simple to learn to use competently, and does not have as high of a learning curve as you may fear. And once you learn it, making reasonable-looking mathy typeset documents is nice and easy.<br>
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The main problems I ran into were ones related to general layout, and I discovered that you could always find general templates of page layouts on the internets and from your friends.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978790Tue, 19 Jun 2007 05:11:31 -0800that girlBy: lukemeister
http://ask.metafilter.com/65086/How-to-write-a-mathematics-paper#978821
ROU_Xenophobe - You're right. Winedt licenses start at $30.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2007:site.65086-978821Tue, 19 Jun 2007 06:18:36 -0800lukemeister