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Stefan Kottwitz
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Re: hi from Sarasota, Florida

Postby Stefan Kottwitz » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:36 pm

I guess LyX could save time at the start, but then it would take much time for customizing if the already available styles would need to be changed. Other requirements quickly lead to involving LaTeX anyway.

Experienced LaTeX user may use LyX for rapid writing and LaTeX for fine-tuning.

I'm curious, which specific things were interesting, strange or challenging for you in the whole process?

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Meta002
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Postby Meta002 » Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:11 am

Stefan_K wrote:I'm curious, which specific things were interesting, strange or challenging for you in the whole process?


It's interesting the extent to which typesetting with LaTeX feels much like software development. In both cases I'm struggling with a nit-picky compiler to generate some desired output from my input.

One thing challenging for a newbie is that relevant LaTeX documentation is scattered all over creation. If I were using InDesign, there would be one canonical user's guide. On the positive side, so far I've been able to do everything that I've wanted to do, but it's always been a struggle. I'm surprised that I've been able to get as far as I have despite the chaos.

FWIW, here are the packages I've used so far in my project:
  1. \usepackage{graphics}
  2. \usepackage{endnotes}
  3. \usepackage{fontspec}
  4. \usepackage{ifthen}
  5. \usepackage{varioref}
  6. \usepackage{url}
  7. \usepackage[figure]{algorithm2e}
  8. \usepackage{lipsum}
  9. \usepackage{leading}

I'm sure that before this book is out the door I'll accumulate a few more .. 8-)

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Postby Johannes_B » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:23 am

InDesign is a commercial tool, developed by a team. LaTeX on the other hand is developed by thousands of individuals. The kernel is developed by a small team and a few others giving input and feedback.

There are competing packages, several for typesetting units, several for typesetting chemistry, several for customizing headers and footers.

Writing with LaTeX is pretty much the simplest thing in the world, it is plain text and you know the meaning of words. On the other hand, customizing stuff is harder, as the special LaTeX syntax needs to be known along with the commands to make the desired output. Luckily, both processes are separated, so you can concentrate on each one individually.

Ideally, the publisher gives you a small list of packages relevant in the subject field for you to look at. All the other stuff, is done by the publisher, i.e. fonts, page layout, header/footer etc.
The smart way: Calm down and take a deep breath, read posts and provided links attentively, try to understand and ask if necessary.

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Postby Meta002 » Thu Aug 20, 2015 12:09 pm

Johannes_B wrote:Ideally, the publisher gives you a small list of packages relevant in the subject field for you to look at. All the other stuff, is done by the publisher, i.e. fonts, page layout, header/footer etc.


I am the publisher. I went through a stack of recently published books in my field and extracted what I think are 'best practices' regarding book design. I then implemented these practices in LaTeX for my book. I am satisfied with the result so far. The reviewers who receive draft copies of my book can check the design for anything that looks unprofessional.

A LaTeX-like application for book cover design would come in handy. Print-on-demand services like to receive two PDFs for a book: one for the cover and one for the text. I haven't done any work on book cover design yet.

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Postby Johannes_B » Thu Aug 20, 2015 1:22 pm

A cover is something very special, it is the first thing that the reader will see, what attracts his/her attention. For a selling book, the cover is more important than the titlepage, unlike with theses.

You can have a look at How can I design a book cover? Unfortunately, titlepage and cover is confusing for most people which is reflecting not only in the question, but also in the different answers.

Creating a cover is especially tricky with respect to the dimension of the book. The special page has to cover up the back part of the book, the spine (this is what you see when the book is ini the shelf), as well as the front page. The thicker the book (i.e. the more pages), the wider will that special page be.
If the cover is an extra sheet wrapped around a hard cover book, known as a dust jacket, you need even more paper. You can add a blurb, though. The Wikipedia page on dust jackets may give you some ideas.
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Postby Stefan Kottwitz » Thu Aug 20, 2015 2:00 pm

Meta002 wrote:I went through a stack of recently published books in my field and extracted what I think are 'best practices' regarding book design.


That's really good!

Sometimes I see people having a bit strange or at least unusual design ideas. In that case I often recommended, just to take a look into good books of their field, to see what is commonly used, and if their idea (let's say, crazy example, all footnotes in full caps) is not seen anywhere, I would not do it.

So a look over good books in the field is something very good.

And you could do the same regarding covers. And also for the back side. Some have a promotional style, some fields or book styles may be dry. Here's an example of a promotional back side, hard working on convincing a possible reader:

latex-beginners-guide-back.png
latex-beginners-guide-back.png (175.17 KiB) Viewed 2187 times


The book's cover can be seen on the right of this web page or click here for a bigger size.

The publisher required the photo on the cover at that time to match their beginner's guide series. For the next book, I could get a more typographic photo:

latex-cookbook.png
latex-cookbook.png (173.34 KiB) Viewed 2187 times


I don't show them to tell they would be good covers - actually I mainly wanted to show the back side, to say, there's important design and information as well.

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Postby Meta002 » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:14 pm

My book has been published. Thanks to everyone who provided technical assistance and moral support. The book's proofreaders never mentioned the book design or typesetting, which means that LaTeX did its job - the reader can focus on the message rather than the medium by which it is delivered.

The learning curve was steep, but I will definitely use LaTeX again on my next book design project. I will keep in mind that I should find some way to "give back" to the LaTeX community; I'm not sure what form that giving can/should take.

P.S. I notice that some book designers are terrified of having white space at the bottom of a page, and will fill it even when doing so reduces readability. In my case, I had no problem whatsoever with 'ragged bottoms' and made no attempt to fill them. I think the book turned out fine nevertheless, but of course I'm biased in my own favor. :)

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Postby Stefan Kottwitz » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:31 pm

Meta002 wrote:My book has been published.


Congratulations! That's great!

Meta002 wrote:I will keep in mind that I should find some way to "give back" to the LaTeX community; I'm not sure what form that giving can/should take.


Don't worry about giving back. Being here is good! Questions, opinions, discussions, answers, all is contributing to the LaTeX forum life.

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Postby Johannes_B » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:36 pm

Nice to hear that your book is published.

You asked on giving back. The TeX Users Group, TUG in short, is an organization that deals with the interests of TeX users. See the benefits of a membership.
There are local oraganizations as well, for example DANTE e.V., the german speaking TeX users group. You may be interested to know, that DANTE is supporting this forum, as well as many other LaTeX relevant sites like goLaTeX (a german LaTeX forum, TeXample. net, texdoc.net and a few more.

By becoming a member for just a few bucks per year you can support LaTeX on forums, mailing lists etc. Those are the places that development takes place ;-)

Once more, nice to see your book published :-)
Johannes

PS: A joint membership is even cheaper.
The smart way: Calm down and take a deep breath, read posts and provided links attentively, try to understand and ask if necessary.

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Postby Meta002 » Fri Nov 27, 2015 11:05 pm

Anyone curious how my book's LaTeX-based typesetting turned out can use Amazon.com's LOOK INSIDE feature to browse the book's content without having to buy.

http://www.amazon.com/Decision-Basis-Ev ... 0996697101

Anyone with questions regarding the book's design or typesetting can send me a PM or post a question on this forum. There is always the possibility of a second edition, so constructive criticism is welcome, too.


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