Many PDF of math books that I have, I am sure (99%) that they has been typesetted using (Pdf)LaTeX. But when I check their properties in PDF reader, the PDF producer name isn't (Pdf)LaTeX surprisingly and in must case it is Adobe InDesign. (for example Springer pub.)

Isn't (Pdf)LaTeX a complete software for producing books? if so why publisher use other softwares for final design?

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    Is this really a question about LaTeX? Yes you can of course produce whole books with LaTeX, but the decision to use InDesign (or whatever) for the final design, might be related to internal production workflows, rather than output quality.
    – DG'
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 7:52
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    Some publishers and printers don't like PDF files, or want to retouch them, so they import the PDFs into InDesign (it's not the only way, of course). Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 12:26
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    @DG': sure, it’s about production workflows — but asking about LaTeX’s use/suitability in production workflows (compared to alternatives) seems just as on-topic as asking about LaTeX’s output quality compared to alternatives. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 12:39
  • I imagine a publisher would want some security on PDFs for sale, which requires the expensive Adobe products. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 16:47
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    @JohnKormylo We can secure PDFs produced by LaTeX too. They are as easily crackable as PDFs produced by other applications ...
    – CasperYC
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 18:45

4 Answers 4


I guess you a are wondering why so many books are produced with InDesign and much less with LaTeX, because LaTeX obviously is suited to typeset the books you are buying.

LaTeX had in the past and has some serious shortcomings yet. In the past it really was a headache to adapt and use a random font. Before XeTeX and LuaTeX had been developed, you needed to rename them in a standard way, produce some kinds of helper files and a *.sty file. If you are interested, have a look into the fonts directory of you TeX-Installation.

But publishers and booksellers use a plethora of fonts. In the late 90' I got a Corel Draw CD containing the software as well as about 600 fonts. Many of the were of high quality, but maybe 15 usable out of the box with LaTeX.

To typeset fancy pages, magazines and books love colors and columns, especially columns running around little pictures or some kind of text inlays. Section design is difficult with LaTeX. And so on. In short: LaTeX isn't meant for graphic design.

You can produce beautiful book with LaTeX, of course! Recently, I have asked for examples of beautiful typeset manuals, see here: Big list of beautifully typeset package documentations . Well, because these days people give their answers in the comments section, I haven't got one answer, but some answers in the comments.

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    One thing that shouldn't be forgotten is grid typesetting which is a really hard task for LaTeX documents…
    – TeXnician
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 13:16
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    I think the original question is why there are so many books that look like they are written using LaTeX, but when one checks the properties in the pdf viewer it says it was done with for example InDesign. This happens for example for online books from Springer. I might have understood the question wrong, though.
    – mickep
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 15:26

The output from TeX may need postprocessing before being suitable to be sent to a printer to be made into books. So the PDF's are read into the appropriate tool, post processed and then when done, exported into a new PDF.

There is not a history for the exporter tool field in the PDF so only the latest show up. Here it is InDesign.

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    "The output from TeX may need postprocessing" … and for that reason alone, the publisher may have a standard workflow where incoming books are opened in InDesign by some reviewer and then sent on further down the processing pipeline. IOW, they might not even have made any changes at all in InDesign, it's just that that tool happens to be the "kick-off" for the processing pipeline. Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 16:21

My own use is for poetry (see: http://madbaddangerous.com/?smd_process_download=1&download_id=1925, set in LaTeX) and prose. Not theses or math. But, after many years casual use of PDFLaTeX, XeTeX, LuaTeX etc I’ve just about given up.

  1. It’s not that pleasant to write formatted text with images and other-than-plain-text-bloc prose in LaTeX. With anything even slightly ‘design-oriented’ in LaTeX, you end up with a lot of markup junk in the editor page that is, frankly, difficult to read and easily mis-read. Yes, I know there’s LyX, but that goes to the other extreme, in my view (by being obscure).
  2. LaTeX is great for setting poetry because you can do the verse formatting automatically. And I’m sure it’s great for math. I’ve always loved its handling of enumerations and lists. But for anything else, the management of formats is really ugly. For example, although I don’t use them much, I love LaTeX tables: there is no finer demonstration of the beauty of LaTeX. But I have to devote far too much markup effort — hours I seem to recall — to any moderately complex table in LaTeX, and usually have to remake it more than once or twice.
  3. Of course you can do anything in LaTeX: the macro universe offers astonishing variety. But there are huge and sudden complexity penalties for wandering outside the ‘article’ format. I’ve found, if you use more than a couple of packages or even if you use just one but it’s (say) Memoir, your markup options and interactions quickly make your project almost unmaintainable. Go back to it a few months later and you need to spend hours, sometimes, figuring out from an obscure compile log and stupid experiments what a macro, perhaps buried deep in a subsidiary package, does/does not do or why you suddenly have errors and conflicts where there were none before.
  4. Yes WYSIWYG layout design (I now use Affinity Publisher) is tedious and prone to the casual typographical errors and ugliness that LaTeX prevents. Documents made with layout programs rarely show the same lovely precision. But it’s very transparent compared to LaTeX layout (you can see where you put stuff as you put it there). Also the complexity-ramp-up of WYSIWYG is not as steep or as obscure as LaTeX.

Here’s another way to put this: I can generally get by on my own exploring the limits of my design in a page-layout program. Maybe a few minutes with a manual or a YouTube tutorial. But I can’t create anything with more-complex-than-Article design in LaTeX without pretty much constant reference to StackExchange.

  1. Yes, (La)TeX and friends are used extensively to create books in many technical fields. You looked at a Springer book. Springer has LaTeX templates and I know of no authors in maths or physics who did not submit books in anything but LaTeX.

As a side note, PDF has a "Creator" field and a "Producer" field. Out of curiosity, I examined the information of some Springer PDFs published after 2000 (in maths, physics, and computer science). Of the 113 on hand, 12 are dvips, 26 are one of the TeX family, and the remainder InDesign. Of the Producer field, one was Ghostscript and the remainder Distiller. I know some of these authors and they wrote their texts completely in LaTeX and submitted the LaTeX source. At one extreme, the AMS strongly recommends using LaTeX.

  1. Publishers use whatever works for them, given the constraints of their software, editorial processes, and printing systems. As other answers have noted, LaTeX was never for graphical design. It shines, without parallel, in maths, physics, and computer-science texts.

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