LaTeX or Scrivener

Have been using Scrivener for more than two weeks as a writing software, and I have to say it is a sturdy way of writing. A regular word processing software is commonly regarded as not the most optimum environment to write big chunks of writing. Also yesterday I had a chance to attend a LaTeX training on campus, delivered by our colleagues. So I have tried both LaTeX and Scrivener. They are cross compatible, you can combine both strategies. Lots of online reviews about both software, but here are my take on them.

The question remains however, which one I prefer to use for my PhD theses? I am still a big fan of Scrivener. The idea of each sub-section is a new page document, “write now and format later” strategy, flexibility to move around the sub-sections, no more scrolling up and down through hundreds of pages of writing, its cork board view, and the document notes which facilitates my haphazard thoughts are paramount to my workflow. Scrivener is (as advertised), a writing software. Of course it is no an impeccable software. I found problems with referencing system, as the integration is not as smooth as in MS Word.

University of Nottingham uses Harvard system, and there are two ways to produce in-text citations: (Author, year) if the citation is located at the end of a sentence, or Author (year) if the citation is in the middle of a sentence. The first format was not difficult, what we need to do is copy and paste the reference from EndNote to Scrivener. It will appear like this: {Rosenfelder, 2011 #1453} . How about the latter? From Scrivener forum , I received help within a few hour of posting a thread. {Rosenfelder, 2011 #[email protected]@author-year} is an example if we want to use Author (year) format.

Now that the minor citation problem was sorted, I began to explore more. Biggest negative review about Scrivener is its compatibility. Unless my supervisors have Scrivener too, I still need to do “compile” and do the final touch up (creating the reference list, list of contents; for instance) in Ms Word. I tried, and it worked fine. I need to account for these extra time in the future, but for Scrinever has to offer as a writing software; I am happy to proceed. Also, Scrivener does not do well with images and tables, and they still need to be adjusted in other program. What I have been doing is to import my tables as images instead of keeping the format.

Is Scrivener superior compare to LaTeX? I don’t think so. They are different, and it depends on which one you prefer really. Despite the complicated look of LaTeX, I was impressed that it is not as difficult as it looks. LaTeX is a markup language and it is a coding based program, in contrast with MS Word which is an interface based software. It is excellent for typesetting equations and formula, and is also potent in terms of handling large documents. From my personal viewpoints, I prefer working in a less wordy environment (jittery brain!). I am a truly graphic person, and having codes intertwined with my writing will confuse me. For a long piece of writing such as my theses, it will not work. For shorter ones such as papers or resume, I think I can manage. Good knowledge to obtain for future publications as it is used widely in scientific world, and I thank Chuang Gao and Liming for the training.

latex

Figure 1. My first LaTex trial.

 

 

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