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TeX and LaTeX are widely used in Computer Science. What other academic disciplines or professionals use it?

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Should this be community wiki? – ShreevatsaR Aug 3 '10 at 21:06
Yes, definitely. – EricR Aug 4 '10 at 16:56
I've never seen TeX or LaTeX (or any variation thereof) used outside of Math or Math-Adjacent (engineering, physics, computer science &c) areas in academia or business. – user4635 Apr 4 '11 at 14:50
@user4635: so you should read the posts below. :-) It seems that there are enough others using (La)TeX, even if the majority belongs to the "math-adjacent" fields – MostlyHarmless Apr 11 '11 at 1:52
I had thought CS folks use Microsoft WORD, Excel, Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and application such as those. I had no idea they use Latex. – Nasser Feb 22 '14 at 23:20

46 Answers 46

It seems to be used fairly close to universally within physics and math.

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I'm studying physics in Stockholm, and the physics branch of the student union here uses LaTeX for close to everything - even where other word processing tools would probably be more effective - just because. But then again, about half our course literature (and I dare say over 80% of the math textbooks) are typeset with LaTeX... – Tomas Lycken Aug 3 '10 at 21:13
@Tomas, I'm studying in Canada and the same is true here. We have one or two profs in our department who use Word, but basically everyone else uses LaTeX. @Joseph, I notice you're in the UK, I guess perhaps common usage varies by region -- I know a fair number of Canadians, Americans, and Germans (albeit in Canada now) who would only use LaTeX for document preparation, but I suppose I can't really comment on many other specific demographics. The physics sections of the arxiv do have the occasional Word-created PDF on them, but the majority of papers there were prepared in some form of TeX. – Michael Underwood Aug 3 '10 at 21:34
Same here, I'm a grad student in physics and the vast majority of the faculty I know (and many of the other grad students) use LaTeX for most or all of their academic projects. – David Z Aug 4 '10 at 0:44
@Philipp: to be honest, even though I use LaTeX for everything else, presentations and posters are the two things that I don’t do in LaTeX. There’s simply not enough text in presentations or posters to use a typesetting application for and I think LaTeX isn’t well-suited for either. – Konrad Rudolph Aug 6 '10 at 14:05
@Michael, I would be very surprised if there are any papers in the high-energy physics, astrophysics, gravity,... sections of the arXiv which use anything else but LaTeX. Notice that the "physics" section is where they deflect the crackpots... and it would therefore not be surprising to find Word documents there. What would be surprising is to find some real physics there. – José Figueroa-O'Farrill Aug 9 '10 at 1:26

I'm a minister of religion and I use LaTeX for both sermons and theological papers. I keep all my work in version control and the plain text format just makes so much more sense than a word processor.

I'd love an excuse to put some mathematical notation into a sermon one day, but I'm yet to find one.

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How about "(a+b^n)/n = x, hence God exists"? :-) (Apocryphal story about Euler) – ShreevatsaR Aug 4 '10 at 6:42
My favourite goes a bit like this: upon hearing a vicar say "The mathematicians here won't like this, but for God, three is one and one is three." a friend and I looked at each other and said: "So God works in (\mathbb{F}_2).". (more precisely, any field of characteristic 2 would do). – Loop Space Aug 4 '10 at 7:56
Do any of your colleagues do the same? – Charles Stewart Aug 10 '10 at 13:17
take a look at this proof, which I trust could be very useful! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – Yossi Gil Apr 11 '11 at 10:27
What about this: link – yo' Jun 18 '12 at 18:47

Quite a lot of linguists seem to use LaTeX, at least in the UK.

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a couple of months ago, i attended a lecture by Geoffrey Pullum, one of the authors of the "Phonetic Symbol Guide". he's a latex user, and his slides were prepared with beamer. and the discussion list ling-tex@ifi.uio.no has been pretty active recently, with at least one developer actively discussing suggestions for enhancements to his packages. – barbara beeton Aug 6 '10 at 20:30
Not my experience. I recently copy-edited the proceedings of an international linguistics workshop, and only two of the eighteen contributors submitted their manuscripts in Latex. – Charles Stewart Aug 10 '10 at 13:11
Furthermore, I spoke to the editor of Computational Linguistics, who was considering switching to Word only submissions, because of the difficulty of finding copy-editors who were willing to work for a reasonable fee with Latex manuscripts. – Charles Stewart Aug 10 '10 at 13:16
Unsurprisingly, LaTeX is particularly useful for formal semantics. In fact, this was one of my motivations for switching to LaTeX. – emacsomancer Mar 14 '11 at 13:00
In my experience, this depends a lot on the country you're in. In the US, my impression is that around 80% of the grad students and 50% of the junior professors use LaTeX. In Norway, where I am now, the number is closer to 0-5%. – Sverre May 23 '13 at 14:59

Nobody mentioned engineers --- everybody from my research group (optimization-driven design) is using LaTeX for all our publications, reports, compendiums, lab assignments, etc., despite the fact we're pretty much a Microsoft shop up here.

Some journals in the field, however, started accepting .doc or .odf files as well, much to my frustration. But as long as LaTeX is an option, no way we're switching to something else.

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Oh good, Martin, you saved me the bother of mentioning engineers. – bev Nov 21 '10 at 0:44
Don't forget the documentation of large engineering projects. In general, if you need a team to write something, it is easier with LaTeX than with .doc or .odf files. – TonioElGringo Apr 21 '13 at 17:48
It is quite true, since engineers used to do programming most of the time, and, opposed to CSists, their programming are most of the time short and time-effective. That is one reason why engineers (like myself) use LaTeX most of the time. I remember a time in my graduate when I used to write my drafts in latex instead of paper, since my handwriting was so bad :) – Hasan Zakeri Jun 6 '13 at 9:36


Background: At this point essentially all math papers are written in TeX/LaTeX. Almost all journals will want you, once your paper is accepted, to send them the .tex source (possibly after making sure it works with their in-house .cls file). I don't think I've ever seen a math paper on the arXiv in anything other than TeX and its variants. I only know of three mathematicians who don't know how to use TeX, and hundreds who do.

(I know this was mentioned in the post by Michael Underwood, but I thought I would separate mathematicians from physicists, for whom there seems to be some disagreement.)

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Well, anything that needs nice typesetting of mathematics.

Beyond that, many peer-reviewed journals accept or require submissions to be in LaTeX- this covers many, many fields.

Personally, I use it for:

  • Documents that contain lots of formulae.

  • Documents that require extensive cross-referencing and a sane system for doing so.

  • Documents that require the output of computer programs. Systems like Sweave (for R) or the more general noweb allow reports and the code that generates the data being reported to be combined into a single file.

  • Documents that must be automatically generated by computer programs. LaTeX is a perfect system for creating high-quality PDF files that are generated from templates. The brew package provides one such templating system for R.

  • Documents where I want to deliver results with as much impact as I can. Good typography is absolutely essential for doing this in a sublime way. I.E. the person reading your report doesn't know why they like it more than they should- but they can't help themselves.

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It's worth noting that what used to be a gulf between the quality of typography between Tex and MS Equation Editor is not so wide anymore, particularly since the rewrite in Office 2010. The Equation Editor team apparently employed Knuth as a consultant at some point. – Charles Stewart Aug 10 '10 at 13:26
@Charles Stewart: I still find it clunky to actually enter them into the Equation Editor, compared to LaTeX's relatively simple syntax. No footering about with the mouse required! :) – Lucas Jones Aug 10 '10 at 17:50
Aye, I can still type LaTeX equations miles faster than I can click my way through the equation editor. For documents with lots of math MS Word is just too inefficient- no matter how good the typography has become. – Sharpie Aug 10 '10 at 18:06
For those on Mac OS X, LaTeXiT is a great program to typeset LaTeX equations and drag-and-drop them to a word processor or presentation software. – Bavarious Apr 11 '11 at 10:35

I'm an attorney at law in Germany and writing all contracts and motions using LaTeX. Word tried to outsmart me too often; and especially while under stress working against deadlines I found that very annoying. Using LaTeX I can get printed things exactly as I wish it, which is also very important.

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And I am a Norwegian attorney-at-law using LaTeX for the same reasons. I want clients to focus on content, and not be disrupted by bad typography. May be I am not the only one in my profession using it, but I have never met one. And not even the law faculty has any templates for (La)TeX, only for Word and LibreOffice/Openoffice, – Sveinung Oct 10 '12 at 22:18
@Sveinung Maybe we should found an international society "LaTeX-Lawyers"!? – Keks Dose Oct 11 '12 at 9:49
Keks and @Sveinung Are you using any specific package(s) for preparing legal documents? Can you specify any packages which will help lawyers in preparing documents. – Jagath AR Dec 15 '15 at 3:19
@JagathAR Base is the KOMAscript bundle. For letters the scrletter package, for contracts the scrjura package. Organising: orgmode of Emacs. – Keks Dose Dec 15 '15 at 11:28
@JagathAR I am using KOMAScript, scrlttr2 for letters and different home brewed .cls-files based on scrartcl for memos, agreements and other documents. Unfortunately, none of the people I interact with are using LaTeX, so most of my work today is based on Word and the e-mail editor in Outlook. I tried to circumvent this in the beginning by always providing a LaTeX .pdf and a draft document base on Word. But people freaked out because the PDF looked so different from the draft document. People are so used to the inferior typography from Word, that a LaTeX'ed contract looks wrong. – Sveinung Dec 19 '15 at 12:14

Educators! I am a math teacher, so I use LaTeX to make sure my materials look professional. I also love the flexibility, cross-platform compatibility and permanence of writing my materials in LaTeX. No matter where I teach or what technology I have access to, I'll be able to find a computer somewhere that can compile .tex files and display a PDF. Not to mention all of the other things the other people here mentioned.

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Context started as a Tex macro format for use in preparing educational texts. – Charles Stewart Aug 10 '10 at 13:24
I know a nice German project which collects lots of Math exercises on a website: btmdx1.mat.uni-bayreuth.de/smart/wp – Uwe Ziegenhagen Feb 24 '12 at 3:47
Not just math teachers: I'm an English teacher (lit, not language) and use LaTeX almost exclusively. I'm an anomaly though. (I'm also the only Eng Lit teacher I know who uses math and science concepts to teach literature.) – crmdgn Jan 4 '14 at 16:06

Economics :)

Notwithstanding economics is a social science, it makes heavy use of mathematics, even if one does not take into account econometrics (a set of statistical tools for economics).

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How many of your colleagues use Latex? Here in Germany, I've seen only academic manuscripts in Wirtschaft (roughly speaking, Economics plus Business Studies) prepared in Word or Open Office Writer. – Charles Stewart Aug 10 '10 at 13:30
At my university, I would say that only "ancient" economists use word. Then we have Scientific Workplace and Latex users. I know of one person in the department who uses Word (Bill Griffiths), 3 that use Scientific Workplace and 5 LaTeX. From what I understand in the US LaTeX is even more pervasive than here in Australia. To give you an idea, see this recommendation for authors from the American Economic Review: aeaweb.org/aer/final_instructions.pdf – Vivi Aug 10 '10 at 20:10
I'd say that among academic economists, especially those in the more math-y fields such as econometrics, LaTeX is the number one authoring tool. This is particularly true for presentations, where beamer rules and Powerpoint is a distant second. – Mico Sep 13 '14 at 12:57

Some philosophers use LaTeX, mostly those working in logic or in areas where there is frequent recourse to logical notation. Amongst linguists, quite a few semanticists use it, too.

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philosophers of physics also often use LaTeX for similar reasons of having to deal with lots of formalism. Similarly formal epistemologists. – Seamus Aug 4 '10 at 7:42

It does seem that it’s really catching on in my field (Philosophy); it certainly started with the logicians and philosophers of science, but has definitely spread even to those whose work has relatively little formalism. (I know a few ethicists using it.)

Some of us even started the PhilTeX forums and blog dedicated to LaTeX for philosophy (and other humanities)

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bonus points for mentioning PhilTeX! I keep trying to get people in my philosophy department to use it, but people are scared of "compiling" "code" and non-WYSIWYG nature of TeX. (I refuse to condone LyX: I think it's totally against what LaTeX is supposed to be about...) – Seamus Aug 4 '10 at 17:15
I spoke to a philosopher some years back who had switched from Word to Latex for ethical reasons, and asked me about what my opinion was as to the best Linux distribution for a similarly motivated switch. I was taken aback. – Charles Stewart Aug 10 '10 at 13:14

In addition to what has already been said, a couple of publishers use some variant of TeX for the books they release, sometimes as their only typesetting software. I'm aware of a least half a dozen such small publishing houses in Europe and North America; they use it for all kind of books, not only scientific ones. And of course, big scientific publishers like Springer or Elsevier use TeX extensively because they deal with lots of mathematics texts.

But one of my funniest encounters with TeX was when I overheard two staff members in a big Chinese bookshop in Paris discussing how to process documents with TeX; I think they used it to produce the shop’s catalogue (and needed it to typeset Chinese).

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Our micro-publishing house not only uses ConTeXt exclusively to typeset our books. It was founded precisely because ConTeXt and it's huge free documentation was available. – helcim Feb 24 '11 at 8:38
That's something you need to say on the ConTeXt list next time there is a big rant about the lack of documentation :-) – Arthur Reutenauer Apr 8 '11 at 10:26
huge free documentation was available I am still waiting for the first book on ConTeXt to be published. – Nasser Feb 22 '14 at 23:24
@Nasser it wouldn't be free. – jfbu May 19 '14 at 6:33

I use it for any important, customer facing documentation for our software company. That means, all of our contracts, product catalogs and product documentation. The fact that you can throw it into source control so nicely is huge! It's the only truly cross-platform tool that I know of, outside of InDesign. Also, nothing on earth does cross-referencing or indexing nearly as well.

Finally, for our product catalog, I use the DataTool. I'm able to save the product pricing spreadsheet out of Numbers or Excel and create 12 specific versions our price sheet. We're a small company and there is no way we would price our products or have as many specific kinds of dealers without LaTeX, just because there is no other, efficient way to do what we do with it.

Every now and again, we think, "Is there something easier that the rest of our staff would pick up more readily?" We always come back to LaTeX. Sometimes, it's a little bit hard to do a really complicated and important thing.

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I produce work --- essays, poetry, broadsides --- using both digital (LaTeX) and traditional letterpress (lead type, ink, mechanical press) technologies. LaTeX is invaluable for trying layouts before the time consuming effort of letterpress work, especially for books consisting of several signatures.

LaTeX is also used (by others) to create critical editions of texts in many languages.

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Welcome to TeX.sx! You don't have to sign with your name since it automatically appears in the lower right corner of your post. – Werner Feb 24 '12 at 20:47
A warm welcome to Peter, trusting that he will give valuable contributions to the community. – egreg Feb 24 '12 at 20:50

I use LaTeX to produce my illustrated children's books. Introduce kids to TeX before they've even heard of a word processor :-)

Image of dedication

I was asked by children at an infant school book reading how I produce my books so I told them about LaTeX (although I'm not sure how much of it they understood).

I also used LaTeX (with memoir and microtype) to produce a novel. TeX and LaTeX also get a mention in that book:

Typeset using Professor Donald Knuth's magnificent TeX engine with Dr Leslie Lamport's LaTeX format

(I know that may not be technically accurate since I used LaTeX2e, developed by the LaTeX Project team, rather than LaTeX2.09, developed by Lamport, but there wasn't enough space to elaborate. However it has generated some interest in TeX and LaTeX when I talk at literary events.)

And naturally I used LaTeX to typeset my LaTeX text books :-)

Other things I use LaTeX for: press releases (using pressrelease), advance information sheets (using flowfram with the help of flowframtk), correspondence, brochures and business cards.

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I'm an anthropologist, and have been working in collaboration in departments of both biology and social sciences in Chile and UK.

I have never met another anthropologist who uses LaTeX, though I can think of hundreds of useful applications (TikZ can be amazing to draw archaeological plans, LaTeX allow to design great layouts for informant quotations and discourse analyses). This is very annoying, especially when they export wonderful R graphics to bitmaps!

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What do you think would make it easier for others in your profession to adopt LaTeX? – Justin Bailey May 25 '12 at 15:59
R has a TikZ driver one can use to convert graphics to PDF for example, even if one is not using LaTeX or TikZ as such. – Faheem Mitha Jan 2 '13 at 9:39

LaTeX use is very common amongst statisticians. Some econometricians use it, but most seem to use Scientific Word (which is built on LaTeX) instead.

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+1 Funny you say that about econometricians. The two I know use Scientific Word. I didn't know this was a "rule" though, because my sample size is too small and I didn't want to extrapolate... – Vivi Aug 4 '10 at 11:56
I'm waging a campaign at Monash Uni (where I work in the Dept Econometrics & Business Statistics) to convert the econometricians over to LaTeX but it is hard going! – Rob Hyndman Aug 4 '10 at 13:10
@Vivi. I hope David uses LaTeX! :-) – Rob Hyndman Aug 6 '10 at 4:48
absolutely not! And when I had that moment of choosing my path (latex or sci word) he recommended sci word. Maybe you can work on him for a while, something tells me there is some hope there... (I will delete the previous comment to protect his privacy - though he said it was OK to mention his name) – Vivi Aug 6 '10 at 9:38
Reproducible research seems to be encouraging a number of people to write up research in Sweave, which basically ties together Latex and R using Cweb. – Charles Stewart Jan 26 '11 at 10:43

Literate programmers use TeX for commenting their code, and many more simply use TeX for documentation, especially if the program is math-heavy.

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I'm just curious to know how this works. The same source file is compiled by latex and by a compiler for a programming language to generate binaries? – donatello Dec 8 '10 at 18:28
Literate programming has its own file format which is run through two different programs for generating program source code and LaTeX source code. For the original literate programming tool (called Web — that was before the rise of the WWW — and written by Donald E. Knuth himself) those programs are called tangle and weave. Note that TeX itself was written as literate program. – celtschk Feb 24 '12 at 21:16

It is also used by some philologists and critical editors, mostly because you can't have multiple footnotes layers with more generally widespread word processors, while it is quite easy to do so with critical edition packages such as Ledmac. It is also easier to typeset parallel texts, to have numbered texts and line references in footnotes, and so on. More generally, and from my experience, LaTeX is becoming more often used in the Humanities.

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I'm an IT consultant. I use LaTeX for all my text processing. That includes:

  • Proposals (memoir)
  • Technical documentation, including requirements, design, and code (memoir, TikZ)
  • Contracts (memoir)
  • Presentations (beamer)
  • (And where a client shows interest, I also encourage them to wander in the direction of TeX)

And then there's real life:

  • General correspondence (memoir + ryo letter packages)
  • Writing for writing's sake
  • Odds and sods (lost cat posters, etc.)

I find that, in general, people do react positively when they see a nice bit of typesetting.

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I'd love to see some examples of your work! Especially requirements documents. – Mark Richman Mar 18 '12 at 19:54
I want to see a lost cat poster in LaTeX. – Faheem Mitha Feb 22 '14 at 23:39
@FaheemMitha I don't have one ready, but here's a temporary substitute. – Brent.Longborough Feb 23 '14 at 11:55

I proofread someone's theology dissertation which was written in LaTeX -- I'm sure the packages it used for displaying Hebrew and polytonic Greek were simpler than entering those characters in a word processor.

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I use TeX to make (printed) product catalogs commercially. No formulas, no "high quality typography", but fast and efficient fully automated processing.

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At least one art historian uses TeX :) I wrote my Ph.D. in LaTeX and a couple of exhibition catalogues in ConTeXt.

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At least two (c; But I know of several more historians using LaTeX. – domwass Nov 25 '10 at 8:00
I teach art history and do translations and student handouts with Latex. Besides, I wrote my Anthropology PhD in LaTeX. – Joseph Feb 24 '12 at 13:31

There are a few engineers that use it as well. If you count us under "academic discipline" ;-)

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I am in the Earth Sciences, more specifically glaciological research. I use LaTeX for authoring papers since many Earth Science journals have LaTeX templates (incl. Elsevier, AGU, Int'l Glaciological Soc. and Copernicus). I am also Editor in Chief of an international journal in my field and am implementing a template for that journal in collaboration with a professional LaTeX expert. I have also started to convert many of my teaching documentation to LaTeX. My university does not provide LaTeX templates so i have adjusted beamer, beamerposter, the university letter head, and our standard ways to provide course information (incl. grading criteria, course schedules etc.) into LaTeX. Being in charge of the research education in the dept., I am trying to influence our graduate students to at least be aware of LaTeX. Some have become hooked which is always a good feeling. Working in an otherwise totally Office dominated environment has its chalenges but when you enjoy LaTeX, then what else can you do.

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Some computer programmers use it.

  1. Layout from content is separated
  2. It's pure text so you can use your favourite editor (like vim).
  3. Make can be used to bind it together
  4. Easy to create LaTeX files with scripts.

More or less, as a programmer you can reuse a lot of tools...

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plus of course, it has \lstlisting for syntax-highlighting of code – OJW Oct 1 '13 at 14:33

I'm a UK based psychology PhD student. I'm using LaTeX for my dissertation and use Beamer for presentations. The only other person using it in my department trained as an econometrician. I'm forced to use MS Word for journal articles as a) coauthors generally use it, and b) most journals only accept .doc or .rtf.

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just to add, as another psychology grad student using latex, you can use oolatex or htmlatex to convert from tex to open office or html, which can easily be formatted into word. The figures tend not to convert as well, but if you use PDFtex you would have needed to convert those to EPS anyway. – richiemorrisroe Mar 14 '11 at 13:56

Regular people that just want a good looking resume.

As the author of a resume class, I've received countless requests for help or new features coming from first time LaTeX users, many of them asking me some variation of:

I believe I need this LaTeX thing. How do I get it? I just want my resume to look like yours


I've received emails ranging from a fireman (with a great feature idea) to a classical singer...

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This is where I come in. For me I like that I can have a document with all the CV data, and another that defines the format. Same data, different formats. Also, the data document can include everything and I can comment/uncomment various details as relevant in each case. I just wish the code for various formatting options was a bit more intuitive. – Jonathan Dec 1 '14 at 13:37

Here is a rule of thumb one of my colleagues mentioned to me about 10 years ago, and I religiously practice since then:

  1. If it is 1-2 sentences, write it by hand.

  2. If it is one page, delegate to the secretary

  3. If it two pages, do it yourself on MSWord. (I use open office)

  4. Anything longer, do it yourself with LaTeX!

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As secretaries are getting expensive to hire (or not everyone can afford a secretary), MS Word might be able to get back some of the lost market share ;) – Herr K. Apr 7 '13 at 22:55
5) In time all documents produced under rules (1) - (3) will become published under rule (4) – Carel Nov 9 '15 at 18:32

I am an Earth Science grad student & Chemist. I use it to typeset papers that are single-authored (i.e., by myself) and more than 5 pages. At least one of the Geochemistry Faculty in my department use LaTeX regularly.

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