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I know LaTeX is used a lot in academia to format papers and dissertations. How is LaTeX used in industry and what are some examples? I am wondering whether knowing LyX will give me a leverage when applying to jobs.

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Probably not before you are hired but you can impress with your good looking reports, presentations etc. after you're hired. But then again you would annoy people when you try to share your documents or send to a colleague for proof reading etc. It might also create the illusion that you are wasting your time with some gibberish to type two page document. So my advice is to stay away from that line of attack. –  percusse Jan 11 '12 at 6:03
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"I am wondering whether knowing LyX will give me a leverage when applying to jobs." I thought the question is about LaTeX? If I would interview you for a job I would ask you "Why do you not use LaTeX directly?" etc. –  Martin Scharrer Jan 11 '12 at 9:18
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@Martin I notice you turned this thread into a community wiki thread. Would you mind providing a motivation? (To me the question seemed perfectly valid according to the FAQ because it is about TeX or any of its descendants like LaTeX ....) As a related issue, may I suggest that providing a motivation of any (major) change of status (deletion) should always be provided so others can learn about the reasons behind the change. –  Marc van Dongen Jan 11 '12 at 11:34
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@MarcvanDongen I was one of the people who suggested to make this CW, although I don't know if this had any influence on the moderators' decision. The question is very broad. There is no single good answer, besides "yes" or "no". There are already six answers after less then half a day and I assume many more in due time. While this question is on topic, it doesn't really fit the q&a style of this site. Therefore people post their opinion and experience which is more a discussion. There is no correct answer to be checked as correct. –  topskip Jan 11 '12 at 12:13
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@GTyler I highly doubt that Lyx is more widely recognized than LaTeX. It's only more user friendly if you don't already know LaTeX, and you end up learning a variant of the language. I think Martin's question would be perfectly valid in an interview. –  Kris Harper Jan 12 '12 at 13:51

17 Answers 17

up vote 105 down vote accepted

A very common use of LaTeX is for automatic generation of high quality PDF reports that present the results of some routine analysis. For example, given some hydrology data in CSV format:

Date,Flow
2011-12-20,112
2011-12-21,109
2011-12-22,108
2011-12-23,106
2011-12-24,103
2011-12-25,105
2011-12-26,105
2011-12-27,102
2011-12-28,107
2011-12-29,202
2011-12-30,2080
2011-12-31,1940

(from: http://waterdata.usgs.gov)

One could write a quick script:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import sys, os, csv, jinja2

data = [line for line in csv.DictReader(open(sys.argv[1], 'rb'))]

# Change the default delimiters used by Jinja such that it won't pick up
# brackets attached to LaTeX macros.
report_renderer = jinja2.Environment(
  block_start_string = '%{',
  block_end_string = '%}',
  variable_start_string = '%{{',
  variable_end_string = '%}}',
  loader = jinja2.FileSystemLoader(os.path.abspath('.'))
)

template = report_renderer.get_template('report_template.tex')

output = file(sys.argv[2], 'w')
output.write(template.render(data = data))
output.close()

To process a report template that uses some sort of templating language (Jinja in this case):

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{booktabs}
\usepackage{siunitx}
\DeclareSIUnit\foot{ft}

\begin{document}

\begin{table}
  \centering
  \caption{Average daily flows for the Mad River}

  \begin{tabular}{lS}
    \toprule
    Date & \multicolumn{1}{c}{Flow \si{\foot\cubed\per\second}} \tabularnewline
    \midrule
    %{ for row in data -%}
      %{{ row.Date %}} & %{{ row.Flow %}} \tabularnewline
    %{ endfor %}
    \bottomrule
  \end{tabular}
\end{table}

\end{document}

Bam. A table that had to be tediously compiled by hand each week using Word or Excel is now automatically generated by a re-usable tool:

Example of an automatically generated table

Slap the script into a crontab and forget about it.

Here is a more complicated example produced using Sweave, which is a part of the R programming language:

Example watershed report

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3  
Nice demonstration but not really an answer to the question. –  user8653 Jan 11 '12 at 16:19
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How exactly is this not an answer to the question? The poster asked "how is LaTeX used on the job?" and I gave the best example that I know. –  Sharpie Jan 11 '12 at 16:33
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I think the answer above targets the "what are some examples" part of the question. –  lmsasu Jan 12 '12 at 9:12
    
This looks really really great. –  henry Sep 15 at 9:51
    
\DeclareSIUnit\foot{ft} is clearly the most disgusting i ever saw. Just take it literally. I declare the foot to be a SIUnit –  MaxNoe Sep 16 at 20:57

To start with the examples: Deutsche Bahn, the german railway company, is using LaTeX (or at least TeX, I'm not sure) to format timetables of any kind, including the large tables hanging in the stations, the individual station-wise or connection-wise schedules for download (in many different ways), etc. Also, some smaller public transportation companies use it for the same purpose. You can see it in the pdf metadata of the schedules.It's hard to give a link, the schedules are created individually, so the link http://persoenlicherfahrplan.bahn.de/bin/pf/query-p2w.exe/dn refers to the web form for the generation. You can try it by e. g. putting »Frankfurt« and »Berlin« into the »Von« and »Nach« field and then hitting »Erstellen«. The Schedules you can get at http://www.rmv.de/de/Fahrplanauskunft/Fahrplaene/Haltestellenaushang/ are even more impressive (colorful, complex tables, etc.) and on the linked page are small previews.

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I always thought that LaTeX would be a nice way to typeset these train timetables! –  Martin Scharrer Jan 11 '12 at 9:13
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City transport company in Brno, Czech republic, also uses (or used to) LaTeX for their timetables –  michal.h21 Jan 11 '12 at 10:29
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@Martin: Hm, for me it's still hard to believe that they solve this task using TeX, since I have the impression that tabular material is a hard task for TeX (at least for LaTeX, especially for automated tasks), so I wonder if they have written their own tabular engine. –  Chris Jan 11 '12 at 10:40
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Another example of official documents typeset with TeX are speeding fines sent by authorities in some German counties (Brandenburg, Thuringia, maybe others too). –  AlexG Jan 11 '12 at 11:14
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@Chris: I would say the time tables are actually done using multicolumns. Tables are actually easier when done using an automated task. –  Martin Scharrer Jan 11 '12 at 11:15

One of the direct banks in Germany, at that time called 1822direkt, now Frankfurter Sparkasse, used to generate all their correspondence with LaTeX. In case of printed letters you could tell by the fonts cmss. In case of downloadable pdfs like monthly statements of accounts, you could check the pdf details and find things like:

Creator (1822MEGATeX V1.1 010814 \251 by J\344COM)
Title (1822direkt MEGA Monatlicher Elektronischer Gesamt-Auszug)
Subject (Kundennummer ********, Auszug 2002-03)
Author (1822direkt Gesellschaft der Frankfurter Sparkasse mbH)
Keywords (LaTeX rulZ! :\))
Producer (dvipdfm 0.12.7b, Copyright \251 1998, by Mark A. Wicks)

As it is a local bank and I'm no longer based in Frankfurt I am no longer with them, so I can’t say if they still use LaTeX.

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1822direkt has always been (and still is) a subsidiary of Frankfurter Sparkasse. –  Frank Jan 11 '12 at 9:35
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I want a (LaTeX rulZ! :\) in my bank statements too! –  Xavier Apr 30 '13 at 8:45

There are companies (I try to avoid advertisement) that produce big product catalogs with LaTeX and lower level LuaTeX. For example (this is not from us): the ERCO catalog is made with LaTeX.

There are also professional LaTeX/TeX trainers and consultants. Also, some professional typesetters use TeX, LaTeX or ConTeXt for book productions (for example Germany based company Werksatz uses ConTeXt).

So, yes, LaTeX knowledge can be a leverage when applying to jobs, but these jobs are rare.

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Since Patrick avoids advertising himself, let me butt in and draw attention to his company that provides Tex-based publishing services of materials such as documentation and catalogues to companies in direct competition with technologies such as Indesign (I hope I have this right). Look at speedata.de/leistungen (in German) for more detail. –  Charles Stewart Jan 12 '12 at 10:06
    
ERCO et.al. are not directly using LaTeX, but a TeX-based typesetting system similar to the one developed by Patrick; TeX is a batch formatter. –  Martin Schröder Jan 13 '12 at 0:28

I've been told Pragma ADE, a publishing house, uses ConTeXt to produce high-quality documents.

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if you Google "Pragma ADE" you will see this description: "the company where ConTeXt was developed by Hans Hagen". so the fact that they use ConTeXt is not surprising. –  barbara beeton Jan 11 '12 at 14:35
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@Barbara Thanks for that. Of course I'm aware of the origins of ConTeXt. I've spent many a time reading the fine metapost-related manuals coming from the hands of Hans Hagen and I even tried ConTeXt. When I entered my comment I was surprised that nobody had mentioned ConTeXt yet. I deliberately phrased my answer as an understatement. –  Marc van Dongen Jan 11 '12 at 22:20

At the last GuIT (Italian TeX user group) meeting I presented the web application FACILE, in use at the Administration of the City of Naples (Italy, Naples on Wikipedia). The acronym FACILE means 'make an institutional letter according to the corporate identity of the Municipality'. Here is the link to the presentation slides: presentation of FACILE, GuIT meeting 2011 (it's in Italian, sorry, but figures give an idea of the work).

The web application was released on March 2011. It is integrated into the intranet software tools of the Municipality and is currently under testing. Users--i.e. employees of the City Administration--are able to produce official internal communication letters which comply to the City of Naples Corporate Identity specifications. In 2010, in the Administration of Naples have been issued 500000 internal letters. This gives an idea of the potential use of FACILE in the next future.

The application is designed to be perceived as a very simple tool and presents itself to the user as a web form for the production of a PDF document. Behind the scenes FACILE runs the XeLaTeX typesetting engine (letters have to be typeset with Garamond and Frutiger fonts) together with an ad hoc parser developed in the PHP language. The key aspect of the application is the design of a template of LaTeX source based on the scrlttr2 document class from the KOMA-script bundle.

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You have to know also the policy that the company you are working for have for software: probably they have a standard software for internal-external documentation, and so you would be "warmly invited" to use that software. (I can tell this for sure because i'm experiencing the same thing just now)

In the other hand, if you are free to use your favourite software, you should check if your LaTeX (or LyX) documents (that can be exported to .odf format for sure) are well formatted and compatible with the software that your colleagues are using.

Finally, you should also know if the company is using a template, and which platform it's built for. I'm done :)

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Whether or not any particular company uses TeX (etc.) will depend significantly on the coorporate culture. When applying for any position, it is always best to learn about the company and adjust your resume/cover letter appropriately.

If there is a company that interests you, look at their publications, like the ones mentioned in the answers above, and see what they use. If they use TeX (etc.), then by all means highlight your skills; if they don't, don't.

I work for a large construction/engineering firm in the nuclear industry. Getting software (especially open source) installed on classified computers is not an easy task. I asked for a MikTeX install and not a single person in the IT department had ever even heard of LaTeX. Eventually I just gave up and now use MS Word (2003) with Times New Roman... yes, it nausiates me, but it is the most efficient method I have found for communicating with my coworkers.

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I am also involved with a large construction company; we do all our reports using LaTeX. Communication is generally a problem as you mentioned, but I have managed to swing quite a few Engineers to start using LaTeX, partly due to the fact that we produce them quicker with LaTeX than word. –  Yiannis Lazarides Jan 11 '12 at 19:20
    
I tried to talk to some of my coworkers about LaTeX, but had no luck. These are people who are wowed by PowerPoint so I'm not too hopeful. –  AdamRedwine Jan 11 '12 at 21:08

The well-known publishing company Springer also uses LaTeX for their books. In general (I suspect) most publishing companies, especially the ones producing scientific/technical books, will use (La)TeX.

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i'm not so sure that publishers of chemistry and biology books use latex in preference to other software tools; but math and physics, yes. depends on the subject matter; "scientific" isn't a tight enough description. –  barbara beeton Jan 11 '12 at 23:02
    
Academic publishers generally accept submissions in either Word or Latex, and will typeset Word documents using Indesign or Xpress, and stick to Tex-centric technologies at the typesetting phase with Latex manuscripts. –  Charles Stewart Jan 12 '12 at 10:28
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Springer is actually not a very good example of a publisher using LaTeX: Their LaTeX classes are often quite outdated and their in-house support for LaTeX leaves room for improvement. –  Martin Schröder Jan 13 '12 at 0:31
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I am also not sure about LaTeX support in Springer. My book LaTeX and Friends was produced with LaTeX but all Springer wanted was a pdf version. –  Marc van Dongen Jan 14 '12 at 5:40
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It is just not true that academic publishers generally accept submissions in LaTeX. It all depends what field you are in. Few humanities journals take it, for example, and some will only take it if your paper includes technical elements. Otherwise, they insist on Word. [Hence my dependence on tex4ht.] –  cfr Dec 24 '13 at 4:42

As an embedded software developer, I use LaTeX as the back end for documentation produced by tools such as Doxygen. I also use it (often mediated by a Markdown to LaTeX translator called Pandoc) for production of working notes, release notes, and other internal-use documentation.

The key advantage for me is that the resulting documents have clean and professional-appearing typography without requiring a lot of manual effort or transcription and clean-up of text as is often required when dealing with Word.

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Dr Drang has a number of good examples if you poke around. He's an engineer that has used TeX for years. Poke around and I'm sure you'll find something awesome.

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A while ago I stumbled upon this conversation among professional typographers. The conversation is pretty revealing and gives you the reasons why TeX and Troff for that matter are seldom if ever used in typography industry apart of mathematics and up to some extends physics publications. I particularly like explanations about failure of Metafont to attract any attention by professional typographers. It boils down to a simple observation that is easier to teach pigs to fly than to teach professional typographers mathematics necessary to use Metafont to create new fonts.

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[citation requested] –  Martin Schröder Jan 13 '12 at 0:33
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Did you notice the link to the thread/blog TeX & Troff- The redheaded Stepchildren of Typography typophile.com/node/43702 –  Predrag Punosevac Jan 13 '12 at 3:39

The Swiss firm Netcetera has used LaTeX for marketing brochures, personalized customer service reports in finance and health applications, and automatically generating documentation needed to comply to European space engineering standards. However, in these cases defining the LaTeX that is generated is usually takes a few days to a few weeks (in the marketing case done by Amy Hendrickson, a consultant with www.texnology.com), the generation framework takes maybe a little less, and the maintenance of the generation framework and the content (kept in a Wiki, see http://jbrazile.blogspot.com/search/label/pdflatex) is the longer term task. Here, knowing the business domain (for the content) and being able to fix the code of the framework (sometimes Java, sometimes scripting languages) is probably more important than being able to debug the LaTeX error messages that get thrown in exceptional cases. And finally, within the firm probably the majority view is against the use of LaTeX for these uses in favor of more Java-friendly technologies such as Apache fop.

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Regardless of whether or not LaTeX is used at the company and depending on the nature of the position you're applying for, it could still help to have on the résumé. It shows that you know how to do things more than one way (provided you have other document editing software on the résumé).

I used to interview folks for sysadmin positions and if someone had LaTeX on their résumé, I would definitely (like someone else mentioned) ask if they used it directly or with a GUI frontend. We often use those kinds of questions to get an idea of the person's skillset and work style preferences. For example, we do everything in the command line and if they prefer a WYSIWYG interface, then their style may not be a good fit for our company or they may be better suited for a different group within the organization.

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As a LaTeX consultancy, we have produced classes and styles for many organisations, including companies, government departments, and non-profits. A London auction house uses LaTeX to generate invoices; an electronic systems training company uses LyX and LaTeX to create their course workbooks and white papers; a Dublin printer uses LaTeX for pharmaceutical labelling; a local government organisation uses TeX to generate the Register of Voters; a professional scientific association uses LaTeX for its regular series of technical reports; and of course we use it internally for client reports, newsletters, and invoicing.

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Welcome at tex.sx -- and many thanks for writing "Formatting Information"! –  lockstep Jan 13 '12 at 22:01

Salesmen in my company use LaTeX without knowing it.

To make a commercial proposal of our complex industrial products, salesment use an Excel spreadsheet to choose the different options, the spreadsheet computes the parts lists, prices, planning etc.

The salesman fills also in different cells for the cover letter and explanations, then a macro creates a tex file and lauches pdftex.

The final document includes pictures, gantt project, tables… everybody is really amazed by the look of the document.

I was first feared that the salesmen would be reluctant to give up Word and loose control of the page layout, but the result is so good and alterations are so fast that nobody complains.

Some of them are even interested in learning LaTeX basic commands to be able to customize a bit the document.

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We typeset books using LaTeX, especially in the Humanities (ie not books containing lots of math!). I just posted images from three of them in the parallel page Showcase of beautiful typography done in TeX & friends (p.2).

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