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According to Nature's submission guidelines:

To submit a TeX/LaTeX file, please use any of the standard class files such as article.cls, revtex.cls or amsart.cls. All textual material should be provided as a single file in default Computer Modern fonts. Please avoid non-standard fonts and packages and remove all personal macros before submitting.

While it is understandable that any font outside of Computer Modern family is considered as a "non-standard", it is not clear what the non-standard packages are. Is there a definition for the "non-standard package" or a list of packages considered standard?

If Nature hasn't made a clear definition or provided such list, would it be impossible to tell whether package X is OK to use prior to submission? Or is it their way of asking to use as few packages as possible to simplify conversion to Microsoft Word?

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    I do not think anyone but Nature officials can tell you precisely what that means. The attribute "standard" depends on the context and the one who is using it. To me it sounds more like the statement that Nature does, unlike other journals, not provided a document class. AFAIK they do not use LaTeX for the document preparation, so they want you to remove stuff that prevents automatic conversion to their system as much as possible. – user194703 Jan 11 '20 at 21:44
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    I don't think that there's a "standard" definition :) but myspecialmacros.sty would certainly count, as would any package that isn't installed in a full TeXLive distribution, namely anything installed in your local texmf folder. But it could easily include any package that is in e.g. current TeXLive but is very new and doesn't exist on their (likely older) production system. – Alan Munn Jan 11 '20 at 21:44
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    Adding to the other comments, what is usually referred to as "standard classes" are the LaTeX base classes (article.cls, report.cls, book.cls, etc.) because if you have an minimal installation that contains LaTeX, you have those classes as well. – Phelype Oleinik Jan 11 '20 at 22:05
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    I suppose one rule of thumb would be "if something is built in to article.cls, don't use a fancier version just because you can". For example, you already have the tabular environment, so don't use a fancy table formatting package. You already have enumerate and itemize, so don't use the enumitem package (or whatever) just because it has prettier formatting options. – alephzero Jan 12 '20 at 1:22
  • Some packages are almost certainly non-standard, like multicol, paracol, frowfram, fancyhdr or anything which messes with the basic layout. – John Kormylo Jan 12 '20 at 19:46
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It almost certainly means

uses standard files ==

"we run your manuscript with the latex we have on our server and it works"

uses non standard files ==

"we run your manuscript with the latex we have on our server and it gives missing file errors"

They probably have some fairly old stable tex distribution installed when they put linux on a machine years ago, so just be conservative. article.cls is good, your local university thesis class is bad, expl3.sty from last week is probably bad as well, even though that would meet some other definitions of "standard".

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  • Thank you. I find the following packages essential for my workflow: array, tabularx, graphicx, subcaption, siunitx, chemmacros, chemfig, tikz, hyperref and glossaries: would you say these are OK? Alternatively, could you please add the list of packages you are maintaining which you personally would consider as meeting the definition of "standard"? – andselisk Jan 12 '20 at 6:11
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    @andselisk they are probably OK (especially the ones I wrote:-) but as I tried to indicate I suspect it really isn't possible to say. It will mean "don't cause them issues in production" they probably don't know themselves which are "OK" – David Carlisle Jan 12 '20 at 10:31

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