I am currently working on a research paper in Computer Science which involves quite a few math equations. I am using MS Word currently to write the paper. I haven't yet included the equations. I am planning to send it to a journal.

I have a previously published paper in IEEE Digital Xplore for which I used LibreOffice Writer in Ubuntu to specify the equations and the content. I thought it wouldn't matter what platform I used because I would later convert the document into PDF format. But in the actual paper available on the website, the equations all look pixelated and downright illegible.


My question is, what is the standard way of specifying equations for a research paper? Should I convert the whole document to LaTex and specify equations there? If so, should I look up on the particular journal format to use before including the content?

  • 3
    LaTeX is fairly standard in CS for typesetting conference and journal papers. You can try to find out a way to produce better looking equations in other software if you like, but that kind of software question would probably be out of the scope of this site.
    – ff524
    Sep 25, 2016 at 7:45
  • Just to clarify: did you have to produce and send the final pdf file yourself (what journals often call a "camera-ready copy"), or did you just send them the .doc source files? Was there a style guide for authors? What did it say about equations? Sep 25, 2016 at 7:46
  • 2
    Looking at the rest of the papers in that conference, it looks like yours emerged relatively unscathed. I suggest that before submitting a paper to a conference or journal, you read past issues of that publication and make sure that you would be proud to have your paper appear among them (both in terms of how professional it is, as well as the content of the papers.)
    – ff524
    Sep 25, 2016 at 8:24
  • @FedericoPoloni I had to send the camera ready copy. Sep 25, 2016 at 9:39

2 Answers 2


If you can write in latex, you should write on it versus word. The latex is specially designed to work with technical documents with a lot of mathematical equations.

Also, you can write math equations in word using built-in equation editor of Microsoft word or MathType as a better alternative than built-in ones. See this link for word equation for equation writing in Word with better configuration.

Technically the MathType produces equations with higher equality than Word built-in and I recommend it to use as a macro on Word.

About writing in Latex and then revert to Word, it wouldn't be recommended and will be reduced the quality of equations (due to reversion complexities and equation editors' of Word difficulties).


[EDIT: this answer refers to contexts in which the publisher is responsible for the typesetting. In contexts in which the author is supposed to produce directly a "ready-to-upload" pdf file, what I write is inappropriate, as correctly noted in the comments.]

Your only responsibility is making sure the equations are readable and understandable to the referees. I assume that the equations looked better in the manuscript that you first submitted, so you are clear.

It's the typesetters'/copy editors' job to make sure that the final pdf looks good, and they should be professionals who know the functioning of the software tools they use and the basic things to check when they convert from one format to another. They should have caught this problem before the paper went online, and fixed it themselves or asked you for a copy of the equations in a different format. They completely failed at doing their job.

You should complain with the publisher and request a change. In addition, you should also let the scientific board of the conference know informally, possibly by contacting the editor you have interacted with. The panel deserves to know that the publisher they use did such a bad job, because they are the ones that can complain at a higher level and change things.

  • 4
    This answer is not accurate for many (most?) publications in CS. For conference publications and many journals in CS, the author does the typesetting themself, not the publisher, and is responsible for uploading the final camera ready paper in PDF format.
    – ff524
    Sep 25, 2016 at 7:32
  • @ff524 You are correct. I have edited the answer to specify that it is inappropriate in this context, and I am considering deleting it since OP speaks about a conference. But if this is the case, then the question reduces to "how do I typeset equations (either with Openoffice or by switching to some other program) so that they look good when converted to pdf", and I am afraid that it is off-topic here. Sep 25, 2016 at 7:44
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    It looks like for the conference the OP last published in, they ask for the paper in MS Word format. The whole conference looks like a rather haphazard operation (there seems to be only one week for "peer review"!), so... I would recommend complaining to IEEE about publishing these conference proceedings, rather than complaining to the conference about using IEEE as a publisher.
    – ff524
    Sep 25, 2016 at 7:50
  • 1
    +1. I agree with @ff524. Such conferences are making fun of young researchers and the efforts they do put for the work. I saw the paper of the OP in the IEEE LIBRARY. The conference should be reported to IEEE.
    – Coder
    Sep 25, 2016 at 8:22
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    @FedericoPoloni The conference is responsible for taking care of all of this, and delivering the final result to IEEE ready to be distributed on the website. Normal conferences have "publication chair" who oversees the process. This particular conference did a really, really awful job (if you browse some other papers in the proceedings, you will see that many are much worse off than the OP...) and seems like a terribly unprofessional operation in general.
    – ff524
    Sep 25, 2016 at 8:31

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