Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Creating a simple nomenclature for a PhD thesis (or similar)

The deadline for my PhD thesis is drawing close, and I'm putting on some finishing touches. One of the things I'm currently working on is the nomenclature - a list of all the mathematical symbols. There are several tools for doing this "properly", like the glossaries and nomencl packages, but they work best if you use them consistently through the entire writing process. It's too late for me to use these, so I have to add the symbols to the nomenclature manually. But what formatting should I use? I tried the tabular environment, but my list soon grew too long for a single page.

Luckily, I came upon this post at the howtotex blog written by Frits Wenneker. He suggests using the longtable environment for the nomenclature - which elegantly breaks the table up to fit several pages. Check out his post if you're looking for something similar.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Using accented characters with BibTeX

When writing scientific articles, I often cite authors with accented characters in their names, for example

Pörtzgen, N., Gisolf, D., & Blacquière, G. (2007).
Inverse wave field extrapolation: A different NDI approach to imaging defects.
IEEE Trans. Ultrason., Ferroelectr., Freq. Control , 54 (1), 118–127.

Such accented characters often creates problems when BibTeX is used. The reason for this is that BibTeX uses 8-bit encoding for the .bib file, as explained in this post at StackOverflow, and also in the LyX wiki.

The simple solution to this problem is to write accented characters in the BibTeX file using special symbols, as explained on the BibTeX webpage. For example, ö is written \"{o} and è is written \`{e}. With these special symbols, the BibTeX source code for the citation above is

  author = {Niels P\"{o}rtzgen and Dries Gisolf and Gerrit Blacqui\`{e}re},
  title = {Inverse Wave Field Extrapolation: A Different {NDI} Approach to Imaging Defects},
  journal = {IEEE Trans. Ultrason., Ferroelectr., Freq. Control},
  year = {2007},
  volume = {54},
  pages = {118-127},
  number = {1},
  month = {January}