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Some essential tools for new graduate students

A higher quality of work is expected of graduate students by advisors, peers and others. One of the best ways to start producing a higher quality of work is to start using more advanced tools to produce your work. These particular tools will help you produce material that visually impresses and assists you in producing graduate student quality material.


LaTeX is a "document markup language and document preparation system" that makes your work of print quality. Instead of a "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) editing paradigm used in visual programs such as Microsoft Word, LaTeX is designed as "what you see is what you mean".

Instead of managing a document visually, where you are constantly adjusting spacing, styles, positions, etcetera you simply work directly with the content. Then, after you have created your content, you apply a style after the fact. This is true for content which you are publishing, you provide them with the LaTeX document, and then they apply their own styling rules. Most journals, publishers, and thesis submissions accept LaTeX as the document source, so it's a good idea to get familiar with LaTeX early. You don't want to be struggling with LaTeX while trying to get your thesis out the door under a time crunch.


Windows Editor

For working with LaTeX in a Windows environment, I would highly suggest TeXniCenter.

"TeXnicCenter is a feature rich and easy-to-use integrated environment for creating LaTeX documents on the Windows platform. Its powerful editor and its tight integration with the LaTeX environment helps you to concentrate on what matters: The content of your document. TeXnicCenter is Free Open Source Software (GPL)." TeXnicCenter


Linux Editor

For working with LaTeX in a Linux environment, I would highly suggest Kile.

"Kile is an integrated LATEX environment for the KDE desktop. Kile gives you the ability to use all the functionalities of LATEX in a graphical interface, giving you easy, immediate, and customized access to all programs for LATEX code completion, compiling, postprocessing, debugging, conversion and viewing tools; you also get very handy wizards, a LATEX reference and a powerful project management." Kile


TexPoint is a very useful tool for including equations and LaTeX content within PowerPoint presentations. The website is not the most impressive, but the add-in for PowerPoint makes including equations in a presentation remarkably simple and beautiful. You can edit the equations in place using LaTeX markup. This is far superior to MathML and other visual equation editors out there. You can copy your equations from your thesis directly into your presentation with high quality images.


As a graduate student, you will go through dozens if not hundreds of articles and papers in PDF form. Mendeley, simply put, makes this manageable. It automatically creates the citations for your PDFs and allows you to organize, annotate and highlight your documents. It's also a social service, so you may use it to collaborate with your peers. Further, the citations are given in LaTeX format so that it is highly compatible with the above mentioned tools.

"Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research." Mendeley


As an engineering graduate student, my grammar could always use some help. Grammarly is like a very powerful spell-check in Microsoft Word. It is compatible with LaTeX code and is targeted towards Academics. It even detects any accidental plagiarism. It is exceptional at telling you WHY your sentences are broken instead of just auto correcting.

"Grammarly is an automated proofreader and your personal grammar coach. Check your writing for grammar, punctuation, style and much more." Grammarly


Give these tools a try; all but Grammarly and TeXPoint are free.

Print | posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 4:06 PM | Filed Under [ School ]

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