PLoS One accepting LaTeX files

by Forrest Sheng Bao

The PLoS One editorial office gives a quick response on accepting LaTeX files. Great news for people like me. Thanks, PLoS One editorial office. Now PLoS One is accepting LaTeX files in fields math, physics, engineering, computation biology and chemistry.

But I still have some concerns about the LaTeX template they provide. As everyone knows, the editorial office should give us a LaTeX class file (*.cls) or a style file (*.sty). But I did not see them. We have to play tricks in the TeX file. For example, for the title, you can NOT state as \title{My Paper}. Instead, you have to use several commands:

\begin{flushleft} {\Large \textbf{Title} } \end{flushleft} 

The idea of LaTeX is to delivery authors from typesetting, thru separating the contents and appearance. But now we are doing the same thing, as in Microsoft Word. Here verbose LaTeX commands replaces mouse-click in Microsoft Word. What is a title of a paper in LaTeX? The authors do not have to think about it. They don't have to know the alignment, the font size and the boldness. They just need to simply tell that this is the title by \title{My title}.

The reason I use LaTeX, not only because my papers have "heavy math," but also because I want to separate my contents from the appearance, thus the layout and typesetting. So, I am thinking could someone write a class file or style file for PLoS One, like Elsevier or IEEE. I can volunteer that. It seems not very complex from standard LaTeX article style.

Anyway, it's not the biggest deal. It's way better than asking me convert to Word or RTF. I just need to edit a few LaTeX commands to reach their requirements.

================ Below is my original complaint =================

I got a paper accepted by PLoS One. But I am very uncomfortable about the accepted file format. I am very sad to know that PLoS requires authors to convert LaTeX into RTF. In many fields, such as math, physics, computer science and electrical engineering, LaTeX is the dominant tool to write papers, because we have way too many equations, plots, diagrams and tables, cross-references and references in a single paper. It is a great waste of time to manage the layout and typesetting manually in Word or RTF.

AMS (American Math Society), AIP (American Institutes of Physics), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineerings) and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery
), are leading societies in math, physics, electrical engineering and computer science. They journals and conferences all accept LaTeX files and thus give authors full freedom on writing papers. It is a nightmare to write a paper in Word or RTF. You have to do everything manually. Why not leave those stupid things to computers and focus more on intellectual things?

Science, Nature and PNAS also have their own LaTeX templates and accept LaTeX files.

Mainstream publishers, such as Springer or Elsevier, even designed beautiful LaTeX templates.

Not accepting LaTeX files makes PLoS very unfriendly to scientific community. In order to simplify paper writing and save time, authors may turn to other journals.

If you accept LaTeX files, authors can even provide PDF files directly. This could save time of editors too.

Plus, academia should prefer free and open source software, just as we prefer CC license and open access idea. LaTeX is totally free ("free" as in "free speech" and "free" as in "free beer"). It is so ugly to write papers in Microsoft Word.

"I hope to die before I have to use Microsoft Word" - Dr. Donald E. Knuth, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Computer Science, Stanford University

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