Writing a 50 page thesis on a Mac?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by tayloristhebest, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. tayloristhebest macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2013
    Hi guys,

    I need to write a 50 page thesis for my course, and this also includes images, graphs, tables etc. There won't be too much math in the course, so I won't be needing any formulae features. I just need to know a good app to write this thesis, maybe one with good formatting and referencing tools. I have to include a table of contents and keep everything nice and neat looking. I have word for mac, but I absolutely despise the thing, so any suggestions other than that would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you :)
  2. eljimberino macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2013
  3. leman, Feb 18, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013

    leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    LaTeX is still one of the best typesetting system in the world, but its something one has to learn. I use TextMate 2 in combination with the MacTeX distribution, and LuaTeX to typeset the documents.

    What I can recommend you is to use Pandoc's multimarkdown (it is a very nice and easy to use text markup language) which can be automatically converted to LaTeX for high-quality PDF production.
  4. Erasmus macrumors 68030


    Jun 22, 2006
    Hiding from Omnius in Australia

    I use LaTeX for everything. I used it for my 65 page Honours thesis, two and a half years of typed assignments (many of which were well over 50 pages) a couple of seminar presentations (it effectively replaces Powerpoint as well) and more. I will use it for my PhD thesis.

    Yes, it has some learning curve, but it basically comes down to finding a TeX document, and reverse-engineering it. Once you're over the shock of it being basically a programming language for word processing, it is very easy to use.

    As far as I am concerned, it is the most professional word processing software available, and it is free. I use MacTex, and TexShop to do the typesetting, ie. compiling.
  5. tayloristhebest thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2013
    I see! Well the good thing is I have 2 weeks before I officially start any sort of writing, so I can use that time to learn the program. I'll give it a shot! Thank you so much :)
  6. eezacque Guest

    Feb 17, 2013
    LaTeX is not word processing software: it is for typesetting. Also, it is very much geared towards scientific texts, and it is a nightmare to use it for page design. So, I would be reluctant to call it the most professional software available, without further clarification.
  7. skaertus macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
  8. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I don't think OP asked about page design? I also would't choose LaTeX to design a flyer (I do make huge conference posters with it and its great for that purpose). However, if it is about writing texts of any kind (scientific or otherwise), LaTeX (once you get used to it) is far superior to any office suite due to the way it seamlessly works with references/footnotes/bibliographic entries.

    P.S. It is also great for writing letters :)
  9. Wardenski macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2012
    I vote for LaTeX

    Writing my "physics" thesis, 140 pages so far.

    I have a master file which actually typesets the thing and contains the pre-amble such as \usepackage{blahblah} with separate tex files for
    - Introduction
    - Technique
    - Literature
    - Results chapter 1
    - Results chapter 5
    - Final Remarks

    Using the \includeonly{blahblah} preamble you can typset one chapter at a time for checking.

    It generates the list of figures and tables automatically if you want it to.

    For referencing I suggest BibDesk. You store citations each with their own citation command e.g. Jimmy2009 in BibDesk which looks like iTunes. In LaTeX, you enter \cite{Jimmy2009} when you want to cite this in your document.

    I am also trying to use Inkscape to vectorise as many of my images as possible and to ensure they are 300 dpi each. Intend to only use .eps files in the end. Apparently, Inskcape can output magical .eps files where the text in the image is actually added by LaTeX. I haven't worked out how to do this though.
  10. Schranke macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Copenhagen, Denmark
  11. xShane macrumors 6502a


    Nov 2, 2012
    United States
    It's not "free". You're only supposed to download/use the serial-key if you already purchased a CS2.
  12. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I'm surprised LibreOffice (formerly OpenOffice) hasn't been mentioned at this point. While I like Latex, there's no substitute for WYSIWYG editing when you're in a hurry. Here is my ranking of word processors for Mac:

    1) Pages
    2) LibreOffice Writer
    3) Latex (if you have time)
    666) MS Word

    It's a bit of a shame. MS Word was actually developed for Mac first and the Mac version is always a little bit nicer than the Windows version. But MS has become Bloat, Inc and while I have to deal with their dogvomit at the office, nobody can force me to deal with it at home.

    When I have to compose a document, I first consider if I have to collaborate with anybody on Windows. If so, I tend to open LibreOffice. I have LibreOffice set to open all MS Office format files by default. If I don't have to worry about sharing with people on other platforms, I prefer Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
  13. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    You could use NeoOffice/OpenOffice/LibreOffice - but the experience might not be far different from Word (just cheaper). If you need a references/bibliography section then also check out Zotero which integrates with Word or OpenOffice etc.

    Not really - that's more true of TeX, the typesetting engine on top of which LaTeX is built. The whole point of LaTeX is that you don't need to know a dicky-bird about typesetting - it does the page design for you based on expertly-produced templates and will probably do a far better job than you could. You mark your text up 'semantically' into chapters, sections, paragraphs, references, index entries etc and LaTeX turns out a professionally typeset and laid-out (if somewhat conservative) document.

    Apart from the small matter of writing source files in a text editor and then running them through a 'compiler' its not too hard to learn.

    The typical use of LaTeX is in academic writing, with lots of cross-referencing, tables of contents, bibliographies etc. There are templates available to match the house-style of most scientific/technical journals (many of which would be a good choice for a thesis).

    Where it is not such a good choice is if you want to get creative and flashy with the page layout and make your thesis stand out from the crowd, since changing the templates involves a vertical learning curve. This is not often a priority for academic writing.

    There is a WYSIWYG wordprocessor built on LaTeX called LyX which you could look at.
  14. b0redom macrumors regular

    May 4, 2007
  15. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    The good thing on TeX is you will be able to read the files in decades from now. I guess it's safe to assume that TeX will be around. Not sure if I could read all my files I punched in MS Word 20 years back in University. If I would write something serious and have a bit time on hand to learn it again I would use TeX.
  16. trustever macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2013
    I have briefly seen MS word for mac 2011 on a friend's mac and it is very close to the version for Window, can't really comment on the reliability as the prieviuos version was very prone to crashing that I have moved to pages but if I were in you I would give it a try and if you are happy puchase it...
  17. dma550 macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2009
    I've found the newest version of Word very reliable, but my documents rarely go over 20 pages (mostly tech writing). What types of crashes do people see here?

    I admit though, I write very defensively. I remember writing back when you saved everything on floppy disks, and I would save every 15 minutes onto three or so of them, and always keep one or two offsite!
  18. Wardenski macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2012
    I find LibreOffice very sluggish, especially for presentations. For typing simple documents, I find it frustrating but thats perhaps I am too used to Word. Word is generally good for my purposes. Its interface is a bit bloated though.

    I have always found that positioning images in Word is an absolute nightmare and I often have to find fudges to make problems go away. To insert an image, I often first insert a drawing canvas. Too often do my inserted images vanish into the void.
  19. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Another vote for LaTeX.

    I haven't used it myself (I use emacs for all my TeX work), but friends hav been recommending http://texstudio.sourceforge.net as an environment/editor.

  20. MisterKeeks macrumors 68000


    Nov 15, 2012
    Not legally free, as pointed out, and it wouldn't run on any Mac running OS X >10.7.
  21. exegete77 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 12, 2008
    I would use Mellel, since your requirements do not include math equations. I have been using it for about 8 years. Never failed. The style sheets are the best of any word processing program, Autotitles are great, and easy navigation window between sections/chapters. Easily works with Bookends and Sente for bibliographic needs.

    (Although it an English version of Papyrus Autor were available I would use it—they expect to release it in the next 2-3 months. I used the prior version in 2006 to write and typeset a book (230+ pages). Superb handling, never failed, easy to move chapters, auto numbering for tables, photos, etc.)
  22. Spectrum macrumors 6502a


    Mar 23, 2005
    I agree completely. For actual writing, I find Scrivener to be a revelation. I love how I can assemble an outline of sections, then quickly jump around as I get ideas, or chop and change chunks of text around by dragging/dropping the different sections. In comparison, scrolling a big file in Word is a big pain

    Nevertheless, for final layup I just use Word. In many cases (e.g. PhD thesis, scientific manuscript), figures and table are normally presented on separate pages and not embedded in the document text anyway.
  23. Suraj R. macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2013
    Pages without a doubt. I've used it to type up everything for the past 4-5 years, and I will continue to use it in the future. Its very easy to add images, charts and graphs (all of which look stunning with 3D effects), and the ease of page layout on Pages is second to none. I use Pages even when I want to make a thumbnail or card for something, its that easy.

    Oh, and no matter what, don't use MS Word for Mac. Use TextEdit instead of it aha. But seriously, I hate that thing...all of the MS Office suite for Mac is trash. iWork on the other hand, now that's the way to go.
  24. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    I'm with the Scrivener crowd (although I use Word all the time).

    Here's one thing that Scrivener gives you that can be really handy during the drafting stage (Spectrum mentioned it) -- you can compose in small chunks (smaller than chapters or named sections) and then rearrange them with great ease -- color code them, even, or use the corkboard-metaphor display.

    You can even look at two chunks simultaneously (and work on them as well).

    The chunks can be as fine-grained as you like. I had a piece of short fiction written in Word, a few years ago, and it wasn't working. I broke it into chunks, imported them into Scrivener and moved them around (click and drag, nothing more complicated than that) until I found the right solution. After each trial, I told Scrivener to show me the entire thing in that order (and even write it out as a Word document) and I'd read it, decide what still wasn't working, go back and re-order . . . in the end I won a national prize with it.

    If your thesis looks to be pretty much straight-ahead in its organization, then what Scrivener offers might not help you very much. But if at this point you're uncertain about how you're going to organize it, you might do well with Scrivener.

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