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Graphics export for high quality documents

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  • Subject: [mg96807] Graphics export for high quality documents
  • From: "Nathan Myhrvold" <nathanm at>
  • Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2009 04:05:13 -0500 (EST)

Graphics export for high quality documents

I am working on a book project where I have a number of graphics, and
some tables that I want to create using Mathematica.  There are a number
of problems that I have found with this.   I am using Mathematica 7.0 on
Windows 64 bit, in case that matters.

It is hard to get high quality output into Microsoft Word.   If I export
graphics as WMF or EMF the text frequently look funny - there is a
character layout issue.  I think this has to do with how Mathematica
deals with spacing and scaling.  Setting ImageSize helps, and using the
right font names helps, but there still are problems.

Another problem is that PDF files of a Word document that includes
Mathematica graphics imported as EMF often has problems with
mathematical symbols.

Exporting PDF directly from Mathematica is in general higher quality
than WMF, EMF output.  However, it has the problem that you can't import
it into Microsoft Word - at least not directly.  There might some way to
process it so you can.   

Also, there seem to be some persistent problems with PDFs- the
mathematical symbol fonts do not seem to work reliably for me.   Part of
the problem is a bug/feature in Mathematica that it does not embed fonts
in the PDF.   The work around is to run a PDF distiller program over the
output to embed the fonts which helps.

PDFs from Mathematica can be edited with Adobe Illustrator, which helps
touch them up if there is something I can't achieve in Mathematica
directly.   Again, there are problems with math fonts - even on the same
computer if I edit a graph that has Traditional Form output, the math
symbols won't appear in Illustrator.

For use in the book we want to import the pictures into Adobe InDesign.
I am not an InDesign user, but when I have tried to import PDFs from
Mathematica using the Place command, what I get looks like a scaled, low
res bitmap.  The book publishing / design / layout people that I have
spoken with so far all want me to export raw data so the graphs can be
made with other software - they have no experience with Mathematica.
Yet many people seem to do books with Mathematica so this must be a
solved problem.

Tables are another issue - with the Grid[]  you can make some pretty
complicated tables.   But they are hard to export to other programs that
will treat them like tables instead of like pictures.   EMF and PDF
work, but with the same problems as Graphics output.  It has occurred to
me that HTML or XML output might help for tables.

Finally, I know that a lot of people use 3rd party add-ons when they
make publication quality graphs with Mathematica.   The Presentations
package by David Park is one such - which I already have, but I have
only used for a few things and don't claim to know all it can do.
There are/were several packages on MathSource for doing custom tick
marks and other things - they probably are still there but they have
reorganized MathSource to a state where I can't find them anymore, even
with search. Are there any other add-ons that are useful for publication
quality graphics?    Or stand alone programs I can use to post-process
things exported from Mathematica?

Surely somebody out there must have experience with this!

Here are my specific questions:

1.      What is the best strategy for Export[] for graphics for use in
Microsoft Word?   Export to EMF?   Something else?

2.      What is the best strategy for Export[] to import into InDesign
or other desktop publishing programs?   Export to PDF, followed by
running though batch PDF distiller is my best hope at the moment.

3.      What are the most useful Mathematica add-ons, or stand alone
programs for making publication quality charts and graphics?


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