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Re: text book style sheets

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg99166] Re: [mg99147] text book style sheets
  • From: "David Park" <djmpark at comcast.net>
  • Date: Wed, 29 Apr 2009 03:49:07 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <14342692.1240908984470.JavaMail.root@n11>

Will the textbook be primarily used in a printed form, or will it primarily
be read with Mathematica? I think that might make some difference in the
style sheet that might be used. Or you could make quite different style
sheet specifications for the Working environment and the Printout
environment.

I have always found that each of the style sheets that WRI supplies has
something quirky about it. Sometimes it seems that WRI just puts in some
'feature' just to show they can, without any consideration of usefulness. So
I would recommend designing your own style sheet. It's not all that
difficult.

These are some of the features that I would consider desirable for a style
sheet:

1) There should be group openers on all of the section and subsection
groupings but NOT on Input/Output groupings.

2) Text cells and Output cells should have the same font size and
appearance. Text cells and Output cells should have no adornment such as
background color or frames. So, if you closed or hid the Input cells, the
notebook would read like a normal classical paper. Input cells could be
shown with a slightly different background to distinguish them. (Distinguish
Input cells, not Output cells!)

3) There should be less variation than WRI uses in font sizes from the Title
cell to the smallest font used.

4) Style sheets should be like graphics. Get rid of everything that doesn't
serve a purpose and what you do need should be put in with the "minimum
effective difference". Don't fill the style sheet with "computer junk".

5) Keep the hot keys for the various cell styles the same as in the WRI
default notebooks. There is nothing worse than having to switch these keys
with different notebooks!


Are you going to have a package that accompanies the textbook? I can hardly
imagine a major textbook that didn't have one or more packages. Are you
going to use Workbench to assemble the book chapters, the packages and their
documentation, and perhaps things like problem sets into one application?
You can keep the chapters and problem sets, say, in their own folders. The
main Guide page could link primarily to the book chapters and act as a table
of contents, and have a separate link to the Guide page for the package
documentation. 

The question of how to write a paper or textbook with Mathematica, maintain
a basically classical style and yet take advantage of Mathematica's active
and dynamic features is quite an open question and needs development and
experimentation. I don't think many, if any, have actually tried it. The
main clash between classical books and Mathematica is that the books don't
have Input/Output cells. Generally, for exposition, we want to hide the
Input cells.

In the Presentations package I have been exploring methods of writing
active, dynamic notebooks that blend with the classical style of writing. It
has a simplified MaTeX language for formatting "page" displays. It has
provisions for tying multiple page proofs, derivations or calculations
together in a compact space. It has buttons that blend these derivations
into Text cells, and that will either display the derivation below the text
cell, or launch it in a separate window. If you have a multipage proof and
one page contains the axioms used in the proof, then the axiom page could be
launched in a separate window to be handy while a reader stepped through the
proof itself. It has provision for formatting pages in two columns with
annotation on one side and calculated results on the other side. Tooltips
appear on the calculated results showing the Mathematica code used for that
result. There is also provision for embedding sidebar notebook in a mother
notebook that can be launched to present ancillary material without
impinging on the main flow of discussion.

I believe that what can be done now within the Mathematica medium is quite
exciting, and far beyond what can be achieved with static or semi-static
media.


David Park
djmpark at comcast.net
http://home.comcast.net/~djmpark/  


From: noslowski [mailto:noslowski at comcast.net] 

I am using Mathematica to write a text book.  What style sheet would be best
to use?  I found out in the brand new update when you bring up the palette
for writing, there are several different styles within it for text book
style sheets.  I would appreciate any advice.
Thanks
Prof. Jake






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