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Often at the end of astronomical papers there is written that it was created using the AAS LaTeX macro v5.2 . Do I understand this right that one can download such a template with all preamples at the beginning already set and that one only needs to write the text, insert graphics, tables etc. So you don't have to worry and mess around with the preamble?

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    Yes, many journals offer such functionality. In general, they will distribute a class file that you load as the document class. Then you can further specify any additional packages you would like to load (e.g. siunitx). The AASTeX class can be downloaded from here: aas.org/aastex/aastex-downloads, and is also available on CTAN – darthbith Dec 13 '14 at 14:13
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    Some journals provide templates to get the output they want for their journal. If you want to submit a paper there, you should use it. It deals with fonts and margins mainly. Some provide own commands or require to use commands of predefined packages. So, if you are using a journal template, you have to take even more attention regarding the preamble. – Johannes_B Dec 13 '14 at 14:13
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    If you don't want to submit to a journal, don't let a template limit you in expressing your ideas. – Johannes_B Dec 13 '14 at 14:14
  • Did barbaras answer help you? You can accept it. If not, please specify the question by editing it. – Johannes_B Jan 12 '15 at 10:00
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I can't speak for the AAS, but I am well acquainted with the templates from AMS (the American Mathematical Society). These templates are quite basic, containing only a few packages that are known to be used almost universally, along with recommendations in the form of comments regarding other packages that are known to be compatible with the document classes.

edit: Templates from the AMS are not the document classes, but outlines that consist, most basically, of three commands:

  • \documentclass{...}
  • \begin{document}
  • \end{document}

A template may specify a few packages and recommend a few definitions (for example, the AMS templates recommend the graphicx package and provide a "starter set" of theorem definitions, as well as a number of comments with further recommendations), but should not include anything that the author has to strip out before use; such a file is what I would consider an example.
end edit

Different authors have different requirements, so loading in many packages that may be useful is not good practice -- it may result in confusing conflicts. With some experience, you will learn what packages and custom commands you usually need. Then you can create your own collection and copy it into the preamble of a new file as a starter set.

When your work on the document is complete, review the contents of the preamble and remove the packages and commands that you haven't used. If you are submitting an article to a publisher, the editors will appreciate it.

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  • Can you add a remark, that one should not use a journal template if not submitting to a journal? Especially with respect to questions like How to change a TeX template – Johannes_B Jan 14 '15 at 9:43
  • @Johannes_B -- this depends on what one's definition of "template" is. in the question you cite, it appears that "template" = "document class"; not my definition -- i consider a template to be a framework or outline of commands (most basically, \documentclass{...}, \begin{document} and \end{document}) into which an author can insert the desired text along with necessary packages and definitions. guess i'd better make that clear. so that leaves your question re document classes; i have concerns there -- back to chat. – barbara beeton Jan 14 '15 at 13:20

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