Adobe CS2 for writing a PhD thesis???

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by pmac, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. pmac macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hi all,
    I'm currently a PhD student 'thinking' about writing up (forgetting the small matter of having to have some results) and am wondering the best strategy in terms of what software to use.

    I have an established endnote library so would be great to use Cite-While-You-Write for referencing, however I have had some advice that Adobe InDesign would be good to use for page layouts/inserting diagrams (and I know how frustrating doing this can be in word). Major hitch is I don't think you can use Endnote CWYW in Indesign. I also know of grad students using Latex but don't think I really have time to learn this from the ground up

    Basically I am thinking about buying Adobe CS2 in order to create diagrams (Illustrator and photoshop) as well write up the thing (InDesign) but was wondering if anyone had any advice on a work-around or software for referencing which may help me take the plunge (~$NZ280). Would it get messy writing text in Word with references then laying the thing out in Indesign?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated
    Cheers
     
  2. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

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    Apr 11, 2003
    #2
    Well, Illustrator would be the pro way to draw charts and stuff... and InDesign is a pro page layout program, but perhaps overkill in your case? These types of programs are large in scope and have a fairly hefty learning curve.

    I guess I am too far out of school to understand what you mean by 'referencing' in terms of technically capabilities of the software.
     
  3. Leareth macrumors 68000

    Leareth

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    #3
    My Advice would be to type up the stuff in MS Word include all the citations and references, leave the areas for diagrams and charts blank but marked, then import the text into indesign or pagemaker(shudder) there play with the layout add really good diagrams and diagram labels/captions,
    this way you can use the CWYW function of EndNote whilst having total control over the layout of your paper, I have done my thesis like this and it turned out really good except I could not use the campus printshop to print it since they did not have Indesign loaded on their computers at the time... huge Quark fans...:mad:
     
  4. Nuc macrumors 6502a

    Nuc

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    #4
    ?

    I've never heard of someone writing a thesis with an adobe CS package. Maybe acrobat or pdf as the final format.

    Word is good at putting in diagrams/graphs if you know how to use word properly. You should probably do it in word since this is usually the standard format. That is unless your an art major.

    Nuc
     
  5. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #5
    While it really isn't that well polished, the Office suite is really powerful for anything you want to do with text...you'll really appreciate all of the header/footer stuff.

    You really don't want to use Photoshop/Illustrator for your charts and graphs, Excel is a pain to use but if you get it figured out it's the most gratifyingly wonderful program ever, futzing around in CS apps for charts and graphs will only be frustrating.

    Indesign is easy enough to learn but tough to master, I think you'd be better served by going straight through with Word, because there's a ton of automated features to make endnotes and footnotes go that much faster. If you try to use Indesign you'll find yourself spending hours learning how to do things that are instant in Word, and doing basic things like putting in footnotes will become the most time consuming part of the thesis.

    I'd guess you might want to stay away from photoshop/illustrator (there are cheap/free alternatives if you just need to resize images) and only go for Indesign if you're really, really serious about spending serious time laying it out (like BIG amounts of time).

    Edit: I see you already have endnote...yay for reading comprehension. :p
     
  6. jaw04005 macrumors 601

    jaw04005

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    #6
    InDesign should not be used as a word processor. It has fairly limited spelling and lacks proper grammar checking tools. The closest Adobe product to MS Word would be InCopy, but it's not widely used. You might make the charts and graphs in Illustrator, then import them into MS Word. I would use Excel though.
     
  7. highres macrumors 6502a

    highres

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    #7
    If you want the features of MS Word but the feel of Apple you should try Apple Pages in the iWork suite. It handles images, graphs, footers and headers pretty well and takes a lot less time to master than any of the Adobe Apps.
    http://www.apple.com/iwork/pages
     
  8. SummerBreeze macrumors 6502a

    SummerBreeze

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    #8
    I was going to recommend Pages as well, it's got some well designed themes and is much easier to use than InDesign. Of course, if you'll need to be sending this via email to any professors, you'd need to have Office instead of iWork, since it'll be a bit more compatible.

    If you really want a very well designed thesis, you can always purchase CS2 and play around the with the controls while you write your thesis, and then paste the text and format it the way you want when you're done, but it doesn't seem necessary. I'm sure your professors will be paying more attention to what you're saying than the way your paper looks. Good luck!
     
  9. CalfCanuck macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    I couldn't agree more - as someone who both wrote a dissertation (with an older version of Word) and just recently finished a 224 page full color book in InDesign, you should stay with Word.

    As stated earlier, the goal of InDesign is for minute placement of many types of placed objects (images, vector art, text) with outstanding control of type, color, etc. The downside is that you should be creating those in some other program. Think of it as a giant "paste board", where you glue the things you've created elsewhere.

    What you might want to consider is Endnote - ($110 student version) to manage your bibliography. It's an ancient program for academics, but a time saver for the specific things it does well.

    http://www.endnote.com/

    EDIT: I just saw that you already have an Endnote library. Do you also have the software, or is this a library from someone else's (or your lab's) computer? I believe that Endnote comes with a bunch of preset Word templates, so you should be set to go!
     
  10. crackpip macrumors regular

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    Jul 23, 2002
    #10
    I appreciate your conundrum when it comes to writing up your dissertation. I believe Word is a terrible program for writing a dissertation. I used Word exclusively for years. But, the exacting formatting required by my university for theses, meant that I fought with Word a great deal when writing. I eventually got sick of it and did the final layout in Macromedia Freehand (after all revisions were finished, of course)! After that experience, I took the time to learn LaTeX in preparation for writing my Ph.D. dissertation.

    This may not be ideal, however, as it can be very time consuming to setup the proper formatting required by your university. Fortunately for me, someone at my university has done all of this work. You might do some investigating to see if this is true for yours as well. If you don't have to setup the formatting, using LaTeX is very easy to pick up. It employs a similar methodology to HTML i.e. source code based on tags, though the actual syntax is different.

    There are also wysiwyg editors for latex, like Lyx, though I am not sure how good they are (I use Xcode and TeXShop). Another package you might check is ScienceWord. Your university may have some kind of academic discount for students. I've never used it, but I know people who like it.

    Pages, although it has some nice features (like the ability to copy and paste figures directly from Illustrator into the page), would not seem to be very good for such a long, organized document. The biggest missing feature would be the inability to auto-number figures, equations, etc, and lack of updating references to said objects. Having to insert a figure at the beginning of the document a couple times would probably be enough to make you want to pull your hair out.

    I'm not sure about InDesign, but I'd tend to follow joshuawaire. It just doesn't seem to be designed to handle the entire process of writing a dissertation.

    crackpip
     
  11. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #11
    Amen. Another LaTeX dissertation here after struggling with various supposedly "WYSIWYG" tools including Word for a long time. However it was 10 years ago. I used gnuplot almost exclusively for the charts, though I did use PowerPoint to create a few of the real simple graphics.

    LaTeX's main strength for this purpose is that it really lets you focus on the content instead of tweaking the formatting.

    Note also that my wife did her dissertation on WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS on a 286 notebook, as she also found Word too distracting at the time.

    B
     
  12. aafuss1 macrumors 68000

    aafuss1

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    #12
    Maybe use Word and charts in Excel or Illustrator CS2
     
  13. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #13
    If you do end up using Word, try to split the document up into logical chunks, e.g. the chapters of your dissertation. I have yet to find a version of Word that will not get confused with a longish (>20 pp) document with lots of embedded figures.

    B
     
  14. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #14
    I've written papers in iMovie.

    :)

    But then I deliver some of my papers in Sign Language (BSL to be specific - its what we sign in the UK).

    And yes, some of my lecturers are Deaf themselves and sign fluently.

    iMovie is kinda OK for editing, but references and quotes are a real pain - we don't yet have a proper system for academic signing. Some people include references seperately, other people write them on paper and hold them up when signing to camera.

    I'm a bit more technically skilled, so I insert subtitles and onscreen graphics, but I'm still not happy.

    Next year I'm aiming to look for funding to develop a simple-to-use app suitable for creating academic works in Sign.

    cheers

    .. RedTomato ..
     
  15. Chaszmyr macrumors 601

    Chaszmyr

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    #15
    Using Creative Suite for a thesis just seems kind of silly. Make your life easy and just use Microsoft Word.
     
  16. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #16
    This here is some sage advice. I wrote my PhD thesis in word and was advised to do this as well. I set up a master document with all the chapters as separate word documents. All pictures were drawn in illustrator/photoshop and then imported as Figures into word (and using word to caption then). At the end it was very simple to collate it all into the master and then to export to pdf. Keeping each chapter separate saves a lot of effort as word won't have to chug through it all everytime you open it.

    I was so glad I used word towards the end. I don't find it that bad actually. The communication with endnote was spot on for inserting the bibliography. Inserting all the illustrations/photos as figures with captions meant that it did an automatic list of figures in the index. Would have taken ages otherwise and I was exhuasted by that stage (which you'll be too!).

    Good luck with what you choose to use. It's a long, winding, and exhausting road ahead of you so choose carefully and use something you're comfortable with :).
     
  17. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #17
    Ain't that the truth. I don't know what I would hate more if I had to do it all over again, the Ph.D. qualifying exam or the dissertation writing process....

    Nah, definitely the writing. ;)

    B
     
  18. pmac thread starter macrumors newbie

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    NZ
    #18
    Thanks for all the useful advice.
    I am pretty proficient with word, and if I'm doing charts I would use Excel. I generally find Word quite good. Only thing is most of my figures will be either inserted graphics (scanned gels/photos) or diagrams that I will create (mainly line drawings, flow chart type things etc.) and in my experience word can be very frustrating for doing these things. As balamw mentioned the documents get clunky real quick, and maybe I need to take a proper word course :eek: but I find getting things lined up and in the right place can be super frustrating, and captions can also be annoying

    I realise the whole Adobe suite is overkill for my uses but kind of would like aspects from each app (better line drawing than Word, some photo editing to get figures right, and nice layout features). Any ideas of a cheaper alternative that could help with this? I do have a Pages demo which i could fiddle with to see if it might be better but once again I suspect I may run into problems with Endnote CWYW citation and bibliographies.

    Apologies if I seem like I'm just pointing out problems with everything, all your suggestions are much appreciated and helping me decide
     
  19. dogbone macrumors 68020

    dogbone

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    #19
    For something really impressive you could write it up in illustrator and convert the type into outlines and import it into a 3D application like Amapi which you can pick up for free and set each letter as a 3D object.

    For the diagrams you can use maya learning edition also available for free.
     
  20. pmac thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #20
    Cheers for the advice, thats kind of what I was thinking, may as well consider all the options carefully before I jump right in with one option.

    I would be more comfortable with Word, but kind of need to buy Photoshop/Illustrator to create figures, and the whole CS2 license doesn't cost that much more through the University, which was what led me towards more seriously thinking about using Indesign for layout. I think you have me leaning towards Word though.
     
  21. generik macrumors 601

    generik

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    #21
    If you are worth half the salt you claim you are worth LaTeX is the only way to write anything that is meant to be published.

     
  22. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

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    #22
    People seem to be confusing charts with diagrams- yes, excel generates graphs and charts from data, but if you're drawing diagrams and stuff like that, Illustrator is the way to go.

    At the very least, if you are going to use Indesign, do the whole thing in Word until you are done, done done final. Then use Indesign to lay it out in a nicer manner.
     
  23. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #23
    Illustrator sounds great for your diagrams, and PS sounds great for the scans. If FrameMaker was still supported by Adobe and had a Mac version that might have been a contender for the rest of it.

    Bingo. Word has never been good at "floats", and I suspect will never be as long as they keep doing it the same way. This is one of the beautys of using LaTeX with a good format. It'll handle all of the figure/table placement for you automatically, no fuss no muss, works every time. Worth every penny.;)

    I'm really not sure that Pages would be any better for a dissertation than Word. :( It seems more oriented at shorter documents like Newsletters/Flyers, kinda a cross between MS Word and MS Publisher.

    FWIW, the way my wife handled her gels and other scans at the time was to leave a empty space in the WP document and then print the scanned photograph separately in the right place on that sheet. Glad we don't need to resort to that anymore, even Word is better. :p

    B
     
  24. jeffcorbets macrumors newbie

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    Oct 12, 2005
    #24
    Illustrator and Photoshop for the graphics will be perfect. For the plots, I would go with the best plotting package you can get your hands on. For me (an aerospace engineer) Tecplot, Sigmaplot, gnuplot, or Matlab (probably in that order) are the best.

    I would also recommend learning LaTeX if someone at your university has already put together a document formatting for your university's thesis layout.

    If they have then it is very easy to write up your research and let the LaTeX processor worry about the formatting and whatnot.

    Some professors at Penn State have put together a pretty nice guide to using LaTeX on a Mac. It is available at:
    http://www.esm.psu.edu/mac-tex/

    Some people prefer the WYSIWYG interface and Lyx does provide that for LaTeX. A Mac-native port is available if you go to the Apple site (it's a featured application):
    http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/unix_open_source/

    Hope this helps and good luck!

    ~Jeff Corbets
     
  25. seamuskrat macrumors 6502a

    seamuskrat

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    #25
    I wrote my thesis is Pages. With help from End Note, Delta Graph, Illustrator and Graphic Convertor for graphics. I started in word, but found for basic typing anything worked. For formatting it nicely, Pages did a great job and was more flexible than word.

    There is a downside, I had to export to PDF or print to share with others as no one else had pages. It looked funky when I converted to an electronic editable format.

    But I suggest you do your writing separate, graphics and graphs all separate until you are 'done' then worry about presentation. I assure you it will CHANGE a lot during the course of its development! So any good text editor that works with EndNote is fine. Just place a text placeholder like FIGURE 3 Graph of blahblah.psd

    And you can make it look pretty when you are truly done.

     

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