August 2021

Christopher Mabb From: Dr Christopher Mabb, Scientific Word Ltd.
To: Our Scientific Word/WorkPlace/Notebook Technical Typesetting list


    Here is some more news, tips and technical support information to help you get the most from Scientific Word/WorkPlace/Notebook. These are mostly questions about version 5.5.
    There is a further update to the software, giving the final release of Scientific Word, Scientific WorkPlace and Scientific Notebook: v6.1.2. This fixes a couple of bugs in version 6.1 that we announced in the June 2021 mailing Item 1. As always, the latest version is on our download page and the v6.x installation instructions are here.


  1. Welcome:     Welcome to new users joining us from MacKichan Software! As we indicated last time in our June 2021 mailing Item 2, the What’sNew sidebar in the v6.0 programs refers to us for future Tech Support and Training:
    "Contact Scientific Word Ltd (, our UK distributors since 1990, for ongoing support until 2026: Version 5.5 and 6.0 Technical Support, Training requirements, and bi-monthly mailing/knowledgebase."
    When users have contacted us from around the world, this is the Email we have been sending them:
    Yes, we too were very disappointed with the news that MacKichan Software were closing down and not developing Scientific Word/WorkPlace beyond the new v6.1.2. But it’s not all bad news:

    1. We intend to continue supporting Scientific Word/WorkPlace until at least 2026. This information is shown by MacKichan Software in the sidebar of the v6.0 programs
    2. We will provide our Unbeatable Expert Tech Support (for both v5.5 and v6.0) free of charge for 12 months to anyone who registers their permanent-licence serial number and contact information on our database; we will also include them in our bi-monthly mailing (past copies available here). We refer to this searchable index of the last 15 years of our mailings as our Knowledgebase; but in reality the Knowledgebase is my personal accumulated experience of this family of software going back to 1986. I’m only 60, so there are no immediate concerns in that regard: for reference, the present situation was brought about by Barry MacKichan’s retirement at the age of 80
    3. After the first 12 months of complimentary Tech Support we will offer MacKichan Software’s users the Individual Annual Maintenance scheme (covering both v5.5 and v6.0) which we recently introduced for our own users so as to continue providing v5.5 Tech Support. The annual cost, starting in July 2022, would be 20% of the individual Fixed Licence value. Alternatively, you might wish to move straight to the Individual Annual Maintenance scheme so as to obtain the other benefits, not least complimentary access to the v5.5 Training videos worth £197 (Educational discount to £147). Even if you’ve used v5.5 for many years we are confident you will learn much from this, the culmination of our Training Course developed since 1992
    4. Please note that all our Tech Support is subject to our Fair Use Policy. However, this is hardly a restriction in practice: over the last 10 years or so we’ve only had to draw attention to such a constraint approximately once a year across all our users.

    The above information will be included in a forthcoming issue of our bi-monthly mailings. We hope this fully responds to your request – we’ll look forward to hearing back from you with your serial number if you wish to go on our database. All the best.
    Despite the increased demand, we do not intend to raise the prices for our Individual Annual Maintenance and Consultancy time, which will continue to be available to our existing users on the same basis as before.

  2. v5.5 Registration:    When you Register version 5.5 you see screens like this and then this. Our v5.5 installation instructions (Step 5) recommend using the Web option; it's called the Web option – not because you start from a web browser but – in contrast to registering by Email, phone or fax. The Web option continues to work fine... but, with the recent changes at MacKichan Software, many of the other options are no longer available.

    When someone with a standalone Fixed licence attempts to Register by Email, they receive an Email bounceback saying:
    MacKichan Software has gone out of business. For more details, information about activating licenses on new computers, and other items, see
    To receive a license file instantly, launch our software and select the 'By an automated web service' method from the Help | Register menu. If that option is not available in your version, please visit our web form at
    and so they know to use a different Registration option.
    But when the licence file is for a 12-month Home Use licence attached to a campus-wide Site Licence, the licence has to be returned via the Site Licence Administrator for approval [like this]. This means that:

    1. (Using any Registration option) It is essential you include your Email address when Registering a 12-month Home Use licence – in order that the Site Licence Administrator knows who to forward the licence to
    2. If you try to Register a 12-month Home Use licence by Email, the Email bounceback message is lost, and so you won't know that a licence has not been issued.

    Summary: Please use the Web option as recommended.

  3. Natwidth and natheight:    There is a v5.5 problem when using Portable LaTeX to co-author a paper with someone not using Scientific Word/WorkPlace. An academic user wrote:
    Recently I have encountered a problem when using graphics with Texlive pdflatex. I received the following error message:
    Package pdftex.def Error: Options `bblly', `bblly', `bburx', `bbury',
    (pdftex.def) `natheight' and `natwidth' are not
    (pdftex.def) supported by pdftex driver:
    (pdftex.def) use `viewport' instead.))

    I have found that problem is that when scientficword exports the graphics it uses  \includegraphics with four parameters [

    I have learnt that natheight and natwidth are longer identified by pdflatex. When I delete the natheight and natwidth lines then I can execute the file using Texworks, but using this manually every time is very annoying.
    Just wondering Christopher if there is a way to make scientific word excluding the nathheight and natwidth when exporting the file.
    Replacing his copy of pdftex.def (C:\swp55\TCITeX\TeX\LaTeX\required\graphics\pdftex.def) with the original 2007 version of pdftex.def supplied with Scientific Word/WorkPlace v5.5 solved the problem for him – but not for his co-authors using LaTeX without Scientific Word/WorkPlace. This is documented at (bottom part of the page): if you click the Run LaTeX here button you’ll see exactly this error shown towards the bottom of the Output.

    The 2007 version of pdftex.def included with Scientific Word/WorkPlace v5.5 (linked above) handles this better than the current version of pdftex.def; the relevant lines are:
    2007 pdftex.def
    % these seem to upset pdftex. ignore them. SPQR 1999/08/02
    % allow for plain graphics, not graphicx.
    % pdftex.def is loaded before the definition in graphicx,
    % so do all the stuff \AtBeginDocument:

    Possible Solutions
    Until this issue gets fixed in the official LaTeX release, your options are as follows:

    1. Supply the students/co-authors with copies of Scientific WorkPlace; student licences are under £200 (plus VAT). This allows you all to use Scientific WorkPlace's own format for saving documents and entering graphics
    2. Give your co-authors a copy of the 2007 pdftex.def, shipped with Scientific Word/WorkPlace v5.5, to replace their later pdftex.def. This allows your co-authors to compile your SW/P documents when you save them as Portable LaTeX (File – SaveAs – Save as type – Portable LaTeX)
    3. For each co-author: locate their file pdftex.def and edit it with WordPad/TextEdit or similar. Copy the green text above, taken from the 2007 version of pdftex.def, to the end of your co-author's pdftex.def just before the final line
      (We recommend leaving a blank line either side of the addition, in order that the modification can be clearly seen and reversed if required.) This allows your co-authors to compile your SW/P documents when saved as Portable LaTeX.

    Any of these solutions will enable your co-authors to compile your Scientific Word/WorkPlace v5.5 documents.
    See also Item 4 below.

  4. Co-authoring – another solution:    Another Scientific Word v5.5 user, also co-authoring with someone not using Scientific Word, had three problems:

    1. The Portable LaTeX .tex file produced by Scientific Word contained the path to the graphics in the Scientific Word graphics sub-folder C:\sw55\Graphics, which was not a folder the co-author had
    2. The extraneous natwidth and natheight parameters in the \includegraphics command, as discussed in Item 3 above
    3. Producing graphics in the formats the co-author could work with (.jpg, .png, or .pdf).

    In our response we wrote:
    ...this is how you can achieve it relatively easily in Scientific Word:

    1. [Once only] First, save the attached IncludeGraphic.frg to the c:\sw55\Frags\ folder
    2. [Once only] Ensure you are showing the Fragments popup in Scientific Word. If it is not showing, turn it on from View – Toolbars – Fragments. Your new fragment IncludeGraphic should be showing in the Fragments popup list
    3. For each document you want to share with your co-author:
      1. Add the graphicx package (Typeset – Options and Packages – Package Options – Add – graphicx}
      2. Be sure to save the document as Portable LaTeX
    4. For any graphic you want to insert in a document shared with your co-author, put the graphic in the c:\sw55\temp\ folder
    5. Click on the Fragments popup and select the IncludeGraphic fragment. Double click on the grey includegraphics TeX Field and edit as appropriate:
      1. File name FILE.jpg (eg. to jetplane.jpg). Don’t use a path name
      2. Scaling (eg. to scale=0.2)
      3. Caption here (eg. to This started out as a WMF file)
      4. Label (eg. to jetplane) – this name is what you’ll use to cross refer to this graphic. You do need to give it a name, or else delete the line saying \label{label here}, otherwise you’ll end up with multiple conflicting labels in the document
    6. Check the document Typeset – PreviewPDFs correctly
    7. At this point you can not yet cross refer to the graphic as Scientific Word does not yet know about the label. But after you’ve saved the Scientific Word document, closed and re-loaded it, then when you create a cross-reference (Insert – Typeset – Cross reference) the label jetplane will be in the drop-down list
    8. Once you have closed and re-opened the document, Scientific Word interprets the contents of your TeX Field and presents it in a more usual Scientific Word format. You can access your graphic by double-clicking to the right of the grey Figure box; your label/key and caption are on the Labeling tab, and the link to the graphic in the grey includegraphics TeX Field on the Contents tab. You will not see the graphic until you Typeset – PDF: that’s the slight penalty you pay for being able to work with a co-author not using Scientific Word.

    We’ve tested this on JPGs, PNGs and PDFs which are the formats your co-author prefers. To obtain the highest resolution graphics for your documents, you want to do the least converting possible: see our June 2021 mailing Item 6, second part: ideally go back to the original program that created the graphic and save it as a JPG, PNG or PDF.
    Failing this, use Zamzar to upload your WMF file and convert it to a JPG. You can try this with JETPLANE.wmf, and make sure you’re able to get JETPLANE.jpg which you can use in a document with your co-author.

    For completeness, the jetplane graphic is shown in the LaTeX file as:
    \caption{This started out as a WMF file}
    For sending the document to your co-author: save it as Portable LaTeX, and send him the .tex file and its PDF output, along with all the relevant graphics in c:\sw55\temp\ . We trust this gets your co-authoring up and running.
    As an improvement, the Scientific Word/WorkPlace user could organise their graphics in c:\sw55\temp\ by storing the graphics for a particular paper in a subfolder (eg c:\sw55\temp\papername\) and add a line to the document Preamble:
    You can specify multiple paths, each in a pair of {} inside the outer {}.

  5. Reinstalling v5.5:    A Scientific Word v5.5 user had tried to copy his Scientific Word installation across from an old computer. Of course, it didn't work since Registration is machine-specific (see our Leap Year's Day 2020 mailing Item 7 for the complete solution).
    Having examined the licence files from the two computers to determine his serial number, we offered the follow directions:
    On the new computer:

    1. Delete the incorrect licence file c:\sw55\Licenses\license.lic
    2. Go into Scientific Word v5.5 and ensure the program knows the correct serial number: Help – System Features – Change Serial Number – OK – OK
    3. In Scientific Word v5.5, click on Help – Register and follow our version 5.5 installation instructions from Step 5 (omit Steps 9, 10, 11)
    4. At Step 12, check you have a dozen or so lines saying Available.

    We trust this gets you up and running; perhaps you’ll be kind enough to let us know.
    He was warm and effusive in his gratitude – it's always nice to be appreciated! Hopefully this will also help some other users joining us from around the world.

  6. Two-finger scroll:    We were asked recently whether two-finger scrolling on a mousepad should work with Scientific Word/WorkPlace v5.5.
    Thinking back over the advances in technology since 2005, we were pleasantly surprised that any such options work at all in version 5.5: for example, we found that the mouse scroll wheel will not scroll up and down menus either. But the following options do work for selecting from a menu:

    1. Point and click
    2. Scrolling up and down a menu with the arrow keys
    3. Scrolling up and down a menu with a single-finger on the mousepad (once the cursor is first brought across to the menu)
    4. Alt + [underlined letter]. So Typeset – PreviewPDF is Alt+P, V.

    It's amazing that we're still learning new things about a program based on code originally released with Scientific Word v1.0 in 1992... And some people reading this mailing have been users on our database since that time.


We send this circular mailing to users every couple of months or so. But please just let us know here if you no longer wish to remain on our database, and we'll confirm your removal within hours. (That's better than only unsubscribing from this mailing, as we regenerate the mailing list from the database each time.)

This software is way too good to keep to yourself! Why not tell your colleagues and co-authors? Perhaps some Emails... maybe a blog post on a mathematics/economics forum? Even easier is to Share our Facebook page – or any of the Product pages on our website – with your Facebook friends. Thanks a lot.


Christopher Mabb, Scientific Word Ltd., UK
Tel: +44 (0)345 766 0340; Fax: +44 (0)345 603 9443