This is a general question only. By now I am only a graduate student, and you might laugh at me for this, but maybe some day I will publish a book. I am considering to use LuaTeX or ConTeXt, but I am afraid most (if not all) publishers cannot read them. Does the writer necessarily has to sent the publisher his or her work in the format publisher can open?

I know most journal publishers accpet LaTeX only for article submission. But what about books? Imagining the book is completed, reasonably proofed, and has accordingly compiled a PDF, and the writer sends the PDF to the publisher. I assume the book is of some value, of course. But the source is written in LuaTeX, or ConTeXt, or some rare format.

Will it still be unreasonable that the writer collaborate with the publisher in a format only the writer can open? Or even if he or she uses a format the publisher cannot read, is it possibly viable that he send a PDF file only, that the publisher suggest corrections and advices on format, and repeat the process, allowing the writer to make change?

If a certain format is almost universally rejected, I will think twice in what format should I write my miscellaneous notes, thoughts and sketches related to my field, since it is hard to tell whether in the distant future I will organize material into a book.

Supposing not, what formats do scholarly publishers approve in general? I suppose pdflatex-compilable LaTeX files is almost universally acknowledged, but are there other options? Some say that a small percentage of publishers also accept Microsoft Word, and I am aware that, but I hate Word, sorry.

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    Have you considered asking this question on TeX Exchange? Your question might be off topic for this exchange site and fit on that site better. Feb 10, 2017 at 18:03
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about academia.
    – Cape Code
    Feb 10, 2017 at 19:09
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    I think this might actually mostly answer your question: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/99123/… In short, publishers just pass the file on to people who do the nitty-gritty work, who most commonly used something based on PDF/InDesign/Illustrator/QuarkXPress, Word, or specialty software that may even support TeX variants directly. So regardless of what you write it in, they'll hit it with a hammer (you don't want to watch, trust me) until it does what they want, and they will not generally ask or involve you. You might get a PDF proof.
    – BrianH
    Feb 10, 2017 at 21:20
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    I don't see this as off topic. This is about scholarly publishing practices, which differ from those in other forms of publishing and are an important concern for academics. It's a somewhat specialized question, but one that seems reasonable and on topic to me. Feb 11, 2017 at 16:40
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    If your question is "Does the writer necessarily has to sent [sic] the publisher his or her work in the format publisher can open?" how could the answer be anything other than "yes"? How could you expect to be published if the publisher cannot read what you wrote?
    – earthling
    Feb 12, 2017 at 10:42

1 Answer 1


It's possible that you could find a small or specialized publisher that is happy with an unusual format, but I don't think most academic publishers would be able to work with LuaTeX or ConTeXt. It just won't be part of their standard workflow.

It's very unlikely that they will let you control the file and make all the changes yourself. Instead, publishers almost always edit the file themselves, since that's more efficient and gives them more control. If you care about doing all the edits yourself, you should mention it early and expect to be turned down by most publishers for this reason alone.

In practice, I don't think the editor will even think about the format issue if you don't bring it up. They'll assume you are using LaTeX, and they'll be surprised to learn otherwise when it's time to submit your manuscript for copyediting and formatting. At that point, they aren't likely to reject it for format reasons, but they'll probably do things that make you unhappy. They might try to convert it to LaTeX themselves, or even retype everything from scratch. Any fine details of formatting will have to be reconstructed, and the chances of getting everything exactly the way it was are slim. If you have strong opinions about formatting, you should try hard to avoid this outcome. (It's better to convert it to LaTeX yourself than to have them do it.)

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    If OP plans to use Context or Luatex, it is a safe bet to assume they have strong opinions about formatting. :) Feb 10, 2017 at 19:56
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    A colleague of mine got a major university press to agree to letting him handle all the typesetting of his book himself, so that whatever changes they wanted to make had to pass through him --- he only ever gave the publisher a PDF. As far as I know he was using LaTeX himself, but as far as the publisher could tell he might have been using something else. But this was part of his agreement with them beforehand. Feb 10, 2017 at 21:29
  • (As it happens I currently have a book under contract with that same university press, so I can confirm that by default, their contracts stipulate that the author will provide the press with LaTeX files.) Feb 10, 2017 at 21:31
  • @MarkMeckes: That's great. Out of curiosity, would you be willing to share the name of the press or book? I'm always interested in keeping track of examples of flexibility in publishing. Feb 10, 2017 at 23:16
  • It's Cambridge University Press. The book I was referring to is Tom Leinster's Basic Category Theory. He's written about his experience with them here: golem.ph.utexas.edu/category/2017/01/… (My book is a linear algebra textbook, with Elizabeth Meckes, which should appear next year.) Feb 11, 2017 at 1:20

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