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Re: About exporting

From: Thomas S. Dye
Subject: Re: About exporting
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2021 12:26:44 -1000
User-agent: mu4e 1.2.0; emacs 26.3

Aloha Ypo,

"Exporting for life" is a vague target, so it is difficult to give precise recommendations.

It is usually the case that export to LaTeX doesn't require subsequent modification of the tex file. In most cases for my work, I am exporting to a LaTeX document style/class provided by someone else. This is fairly typical of the LaTeX world, where academic journals and university degree programs design their own in-house styles and then ask authors to use them. The idea behind LaTeX is that LaTeX defines the meaningful units of a document (headers, paragraphs, quotes, etc.) so that a single LaTeX document can be exported to multiple targets, each of which styles the document units in its own way. Because Org mode targets LaTeX, and not a particular style, this means that Org mode inherits LaTeX's style agnosticism.

Of course, there are exceptions to this general rule, where a LaTeX class/style defines document units that extend the LaTeX spec. It can be tricky to get Org mode to export to one of these non-standard styles.

If you intend to create documents with bibliographies, then IMHO LaTeX export is the best choice. BibTeX defines a plain text bibliographic database that is very widely used and capable of meeting the most exact bibliographic requirements. John Kitchin has written org-ref to manage BibTeX databases from Org mode, and Joost Kremers has ebib, which integrates nicely with Org mode and accomplishes many of the same tasks covered by org-ref. A native Org mode bibliographic solution has been discussed for many years and there is an org-cite branch that is a nearly complete work in progress. This will be designed to use Citation Style Language, rather than BibTeX, which means (at least currently IIUC) that there will be somewhat less fine control over bibliographic format, although there are thousands of CSL style definitions, which presumably cover all the most likely targets. In my experience, CSL approximates most bibliographic styles, rather than producing them exactly, so YMMV.

Even without the need for bibliographies, LaTeX might be your best choice. In my field, most of the journals *require* an MS Word document, a practice that gives me no end of heartburn. I've found that export to LaTeX followed by conversion with the Haskell program pandoc gives the best results. Pandoc is pretty nifty, with conversion among quite a few different formats. LaTeX provides a rich input, which pandoc handles really well.


Ypo writes:


After some years of using orgmode, and exporting using its defaults, I would like to take a quality leap and find a way of exporting for life. My options:

LaTeX: I can see some masters here that make professional books, and I have some friends that publish scientific papers using LaTeX. But, it looks like a like a rabbit hole to me, since even the masters seem to have to modify the tex file directly (is this correct?), not being sufficient orgmode to culminate the work by itself. And to learn LaTeX seems a lifelong activity (almost like "learning" orgmode). BTW, when I export to LaTeX although it gets the job done, it sends a
lot of error messages.

ODT: I take this one as a lower level solution than LaTeX, but it looks easier to tame, and it even allows to use templates, for example to make reports in the workplace. Do you think it is worth focusing on ODT exporting? Could it be a definitive solution to publish papers and books directly from orgmode? ODT exporting sends some error message to me, but at least I understand it.

HTML: I have seen some themes
<https://olmon.gitlab.io/org-themes/latexcss/latexcss.html> designed to export in LaTeX format using HTML. Here we would have the "definitive tool": The power of LaTeX in the versatility that could give the use of different themes for different purposes. But, do you think it could get, some day, the quality of a direct LaTeX export? No errors by my side when exporting to HTML.

How do you think I should spend some hundreds (or thousands) of hours to achieve
maestry exporting my documents?

Best regards.

Thomas S. Dye

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