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I've been working on an article, and for ease of collaboration among co-authors and advisers I have used Google Docs thus far, so I'll likely need to do at least a little post-formatting once in .doc format. In addition, I use linux and LibreOffice when I have to, and I generally dislike using MS products.

I'm now preparing the article to submit and the journal I am considering accepts a wide range of file formats: .doc, .docx, .rtf, & .pdf (with .tex files after acceptance).

I feel inclined to put things in LaTeX since I am well-versed and like the idea of having finer control of the appearance of things, but it will certainly take a bit more time and I am ignorant of the layout process journals use when preparing an article.

Is there any real benefit of using LaTeX or another format when submitting an article to a journal (in this case PLOS One)?

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    A side note: if you don't know it already, should you decide to convert the document to LaTeX, you may consider the usage of pandoc. – Massimo Ortolano Jun 15 '17 at 16:10
  • As per automatically typesetting and ease of use is concerned, I would go with LaTeX. (given that you are comfortable handling the syntax, as mentioned you already are) – Coder Jun 15 '17 at 17:14
  • @Coder is typesetting a concern? Basically every publisher I've submitted to is using their own professional software for producing the article anyways. If they provide templates it's usually just so the authors can build their paper in a way it will fit the scheme of the journal. – user64845 Jun 16 '17 at 10:57
  • My two cents ...send rtf or pdf or latex ... do not send docx ... I have a Mac, have not purchased Microsoft Word for many versions, and equations in docx files sometimes come out wrong in the default Mac readers for docx. – GEdgar Jun 16 '17 at 10:57
  • @DSVA This was kind of my thought. If I just dump my google doc, and upload my figures that is certainly faster if the LaTeX I make is just scrapped anyhow. The one benefit I see, besides Julius's point about pre-print sharing, is I can be sure my LaTeX generating tables/equations fit visually with the text. – ryanjdillon Jun 16 '17 at 12:17
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TL;DR: Two considerations may speak for Word: possible differences between submission and publication requirements, and ease of collaboration and review.

The answers so far have sung the praises of LaTeX, and with good reason, but here is a caveat. You should try and determine whether the publication has a different requirement for the final version than the submission, just in case.

This happened to me with IEEE Computer last year. I have an article appearing in the July issue. When it was submitted about a year ago, I used LaTeX (despite some of my coauthors being unfamiliar with it), but when the magazine accepted it, they required me to convert it to Word! I found a tool to help with this but it was still a lot of extra effort.

I imagine this requirement arose because the magazine uses a professional editor to revise it prior to publication. Most publications are in journals rather than magazines and therefore aren't faced with this. (Or perhaps some journals do this too.). But because your question hit close to home and there will be some for whom this is applicable, I'm mentioning here.

Putting aside the question of whether a Word might actually be required, another point is the ease of collaboration and review. In this case, the OP has chosen to use Google Docs to edit, which certainly makes tracking changes and comments easy. Sending around Word has that effect too, whereas LaTeX requires a lot of hacks (macros to include or omit comments, latexdiff to markup changes, etc.) it's not like you're done as soon as you submit: you may quite likely have revisions to deal with.

Bottom line: while I find it easier to prepare initially in LaTeX, if you need to move from Docs to either Word or LaTeX, it seems likely it's easier to switch to Word and continue the submission cycle from there.

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    I appreciate the anecdote. Given my lack of experience in this arena, it is these experiences I hope to learn about. – ryanjdillon Jun 16 '17 at 12:20
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    I use git to track changes in latex, and it works pretty well most of the time... The only requirement is to NOT write entire paragraphs in a single line. – user000001 May 22 '18 at 18:02
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    Anything that can let you store a snapshot is useful, since then you can run latexdiff. The issue in my case was the requirement to convert. – Fred Douglis May 22 '18 at 18:07
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That all depends on the journal you're submitting to. Quite some journals that accept Latex, also provide a template to use. With a template available and knowledge of Latex, it should be fairly easy to convert the GoogleDoc to Latex if you download as HTML and then use eg Pandoc to convert to Latex (explained here).

But people who are not comfortable with Latex, are likely better of using another option. Converting from GoogleDocs to .doc or .docx generally also requires an in-between step using PDF, and will generally give some layout issues, but when a paper is bound to be submitted it's not really the time to learn Latex.

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  • Thanks for the great answer. I've currently selected Fred's, as it pertained more specifically to what I was curious about, but all input here has been helpful to me. – ryanjdillon Jun 19 '17 at 12:56
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It depends a bit on the journal, but after acceptance most journals do the entire formatting from scratch. They may give you LaTeX templates, but that's just to give you an idea of what it will look like in the end and how many pages your paper will consist of.

There may be a big benefit to producing it in LaTeX though, but this depends a bit on the field you're in. In most STEM fields it is considered more professional than Word, so if you're considering sharing it as a preprint with colleagues this might be a factor that you want to weigh.

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  • I hadn't thought about preprint sharing, and good to know about the formatting, despite using the template. That was pretty much what I was wondering about. – ryanjdillon Jun 16 '17 at 7:59
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    Still, most journals have limits on page counts for different types of submissions and/or charge you extra fees when you're over some specified length. When you use their (Latex) template it gives you a good idea of what your page count is and whether that falls within their purview. – Julius Jun 16 '17 at 8:23

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