January 2024

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


    Here's to 2024! Welcome to our January news, tips and technical support information to help you get the most from your Scientific Word/WorkPlace/Notebook system; most of the items below are about running version 5.5.
    As always, the latest copy of the programs – v5.5 Build 2960 and v6.1.2 – is available on our download page (see Item 7 below).


  1. T3 Scientific Word processing:    Those of you who have been with us a very long time may remember the 1980s DOS program called T3. If not, you can catch up on the story here. In fact, it was staring at the spine of the original ring-binder manual – T3 Scientific Word processing – that gave us the idea for our company name.
    And so of course we were interested to receive an Email from a user in India saying:
    I was one of the early customers of T3 Scientific Word Processor and later Scientific WorkPlace 2.5. Did most of my work around those in the 1990s. I have the whole T3 and SWP25 directories with me.
    It has just come to my notice that some of my unpublished work is of current relevance after 30 years!
    I would like to find out if you have any means of recovering my T3 documents.
    We replied:
    Well, our expertise goes back to 1985... but even so that’s quite a challenge.
    1. We know how to do it – indeed, have written documentation – but it requires a working T3 installation which we don’t currently have
    2. We are exploring some possibilities, at least one of which looks quite promising.
    In fact the user already had a copy of T3 available, and by the time we were ready to help him he had got T3 running and succeeded in extracting his documents. He generously wrote:
    In case you get any other query regarding T3, you are most welcome to contact me. I would do it free of charge for you. I have rather too much free time and a diversion would be welcome.
    Thank you and your company for being there for people like me. T3 was a strong backbone of my scientific career for close to 10 invaluable years. I appreciate its contribution.
    He was the first person in over 20 years to ask for Tech Support in respect of T3, so we probably won't. But this item may nevertheless be of sentimental interest to some of our readers.

  2. Recovering .tex files:    This one's not really a success story, and shows once again that the only safe practice is to keep multiple backups of your documents. Back in the summer, one of our Individual Annual Maintenance users Emailed us saying:
    It appears that I have lost the TEX file associated with an important PDF document.
    The document in question held significant value... I have tried searching through various directories and backup systems.
    Attached the pdf file and the zip file where the tex file should be.
    Our first response asked:
    1. Do you have any versions of your .tex file? Any earlier drafts or backups?
    2. Do any of your co-authors have backups on their computers?
    3. Is the PDF of June 10th the latest version of your document? In other words, are we looking for the .tex file as at June 10th?
    Although the PDF was what he wanted, he had subsequently edited the .tex file and lost it (or lost part of it), and only had much earlier copies of the .tex file. We suggested:
    Here are the two possible ways forward:
    1. [.bak file] In which folder did you find the PDF you sent us, compiled on June 10th? As a general rule, the .tex file that produced it – and the backup .bak file – should be in the same folder. Please send us a screenshot of the filenames in the folder where you found the PDF. Please also send us the .bak file in this folder.
    2. [recent .tex file] Failing that, the .tex file closest in date before June 10th is <snip> dated June 5th (see File – Document Info). We are attaching this .tex file and the PDF it produces. If you have to use this (because you cannot find the .tex file or .bak file in the folder where you found the PDF), then by comparing the .tex file attached to the PDF of June 10th you can make the changes manually to the .tex file.
    Once the immediate issue is resolved, we strongly recommend you read our June 2023 mailing Item 3, November 2021 mailing Item 2 and November 2018 mailing Item 2 which advise against using Dropbox, Onedrive or Google Drive as your working folder.
    In our final attempt to solve the problem we wrote:
    It does not seem that you still have a copy of the missing .tex file on your Google Drive.

    There is a possibility that the .tex file might still be in your Google Drive trash. We can’t be sure – we don’t use Google Drive ourselves, but we recommend you read the page at https://support.google.com/drive/answer/2375102 – especially the section “Recover a file from the trash” – and carefully examine your Google Drive trash. We suggest you recover/undelete any .tex or .bak files that you find in the trash which were deleted after June 5th. <snip> It’s worth recovering any such .tex and .bak files, even those deleted after June 10th, since we suspect you only made the changes that you don’t want quite recently (so, for example, a .tex or .bak file deleted around July 1st might be a copy of the file as at June 10th).
    But not our most successful Tech Support story ever.

  3. EPS graphics:    A v5.5 user with Consultancy Time raised the following question:
    When I compile a file including and EPS figure, the resulting pdf actually includes the figure, but if you magnify it you will see that the text in the figure shows a jagged contour, even though the EPS includes the text as such (not as graphic approximation of text).
    The choice of EPS format (rather than other raster formats, Jpg, Png) is usually adopted to guarantee maximum output precision.
    Is it possible to fix this problem?
    We had asked MacKichan Software about this very issue in 2010, and they had told us:
    SW uses third party graphics filters to be able to include graphics.
    The particular graphics you are using may be causing a problem for the graphics filters. You can try changing the way you create the graphics.
    Depending on how you are creating the graphics you may be able to save the graphics with a different file version or with a different graphics format.
    So we knew this wasn't a new problem that had just developed on the user's computer. We replied:
    I’m fairly confident that Scientific WorkPlace v5.5 has never produced a higher resolution output than the PDFs attached.
    However, the user was getting higher resolution EPS graphics when compiling the same document with MiKTeX: you might want to download and examine these samples, compiled with the TrueTeX and MiKTeX compilers, at magnifications of 1600% and 2400% (compare the outline of the text characters within the table at the bottom of the page).

    We therefore prepared a three-page MiKTeX fact sheet for him, with detailed steps of the non-trivial process to configure Scientific Word/WorkPlace v5.5 to use the MiKTeX compiler, so as to benefit from the higher quality EPS graphics at very high resolution. This will be absolutely unnecessary for most users: when compiled with the default TrueTeX compiler, the quality of the text in the graphics is amply high enough for ordinary purposes up to 400% magnification.

    But for those who want the very best output money can buy, we're offering that MiKTeX fact sheet to v5.5 users for £147 + VAT, with Educational discount to £97 + VAT; or free (on request) for Support Contract / Annual Maintenance sites and with new permanent licences.
    But you don't need it!

  4. LyX:    Another day, another Tech Support Email:
    I used Scientific Word to write my PhD dissertation at Stanford in the 1990s. <snip> Lately I have been using Lyx for mathematical typography. I also switched from a PC to a Mac.
    I recently recovered the .tex file containing my dissertation from a backup tape from 1999 :-)
    When I tried to import it into Lyx it mostly worked and then hit some issue. Probably some LaTeX code that Scientific Word uses but Lyx doesn’t support.
    I am about to debug it… but thought I would ask you if you have any knowledge of porting Scientific Word .tex files into Lyx. <snip>

    Ps I was glad to see you are keeping Scientific Word alive! And that you have ported it to the Mac.
    While pointing out that we know nothing about LyX, we replied:
    Here are some possibilities:
    1. Easiest: On a Windows machine, install the free 30-day demo of Scientific Word or Scientific WorkPlace version 5.5 (NOT version 6). Open your dissertation .tex file in Scientific Word/WorkPlace v5.5, and use File – SaveAs – SaveAsType Portable LaTeX to create a .tex file that you should be able to read with LyX. In 1999 you were probably using Scientific Word version 3.0, so there might be some issues with opening your .tex file in version 5.5, but probably nothing serious.
    2. Nearly as good: If you need to use your Mac, we strongly recommend you install Scientific Word/WorkPlace v5.5 inside a Windows emulator (and then follow Item 1 above).
      See our August 2022 mailing Item 4 and October 2022 mailing Item 1.
    3. If you know enough LaTeX, you might be able to make LyX import your .tex file by using the attached tcilatex.tex. This proprietary file is the difference between
      1. Scientific Word’s own LaTeX format, and
      2. Portable LaTeX that should be readable by any LaTeX installation.
      When you follow the steps in Item 1 above, saving as Portable LaTeX incorporates tcilatex.tex into the Preamble of the document rather than calling it with \input{tcilatex}.
      For more about Portable LaTeX, see our September 2008 mailing Item 2, February 2019 mailing Item 4 and October 2022 mailing Item 3.
    4. Worst case scenario: If your macOS is not greater than 32-bit OS10.14 Mojave, then you could try installing Scientific Word/WorkPlace v6 for Mac and importing your .tex file with File – ImportTeX before exporting with File – Export TeX. But the differences between Scientific Word/WorkPlace versions ≤v5.5 and v6 are significant, since v6 was a complete re-writing of the code base: you really don’t want to be importing a 1999 .tex file into SW/P v6.
      See our August 2022 mailing Item 3.

  5. Unnumbered Subsection:    We received this question from our website, followed by some screenshots:
    Hi, I'm a SWP 5.5 and 6 user. I'm writing a book where, at end of each chapter I must place a non-numbered subection containing the suggested reading. So, where to order SWP to typeset a non-numbered subsection? Thanks in advance.
    We replied:
    Thanks for your Scientific WorkPlace serial number. We note you are running Scientific WorkPlace v5.5 Build 2890; you might want to update to the latest Build 2960 by installing the file swp-pro550.exe (95Mb) from our download page following our v5.5 installation instructions. See our November 2023 mailing Item 7.
    To make a subsection unnumbered, right-click at the start of the subsection heading (eg. before the S of Subsection in the screenshot attached) and click on Properties – Unnumbered. This works with Sections, Subsections etc.
    See also the second question in our September 2010 mailing Item 1.

  6. Shell documents:    Our November 2023 mailing Item 3 dealt with importing external typesetting specifications to Scientific Word/WorkPlace v5.5. A user had done that successfully and got their document looking the way they wanted: ie. matching the journal which had provided the typesetting specifications. He then asked:
    We followed the steps you provided and were able to get the file to compile on our system. Thank you for that. What we would like to do now, is to create a Style [he meant a Shell document] so that when we are in Scientific Workplace, and want to create a new document, we can select the [Shell document] <snip> from that menu <snip> (File | New...)
    We said:
    The question you’re asking is how to create a Shell Document (also called Shell File). We cover this in Section 3.4 of our Scientific Word/WorkPlace Training Course.
    If you have bought the Training Course videos (£197 + VAT per person, with Educational discount to £147 + VAT), watch Section 3.4 from 4m08s to the end. If not, see our December 2014 mailing Item 3(13).

  7. Silent mode:    Sometimes, after you click on Typeset – PreviewPDF, the TrueTeX compiler will pause and throw up an error message – or maybe it's just an information message. This might happen when you've imported a document from somewhere else, and it's not right yet (eg. you're missing a package/style file). But in the first instance, you just want to get past the messages to see what the PDF looks like, even though you know it's not quite right. For that, we have Silent mode:
    When the compiler stops and give a warning message, for example:
    ! Undefined control sequence.
    you can go past by pressing:
    (At ?) S      [that’s capital s]
    for Silent mode; you will need to do this for each pass of the compiler.
    Once you correct the underlying error you won't need to do this any more.

  8. Installation checklist (v5.5):    There are lots of things that can go wrong if you don't follow our installation instructions. Here are some of the things we've said to users recently:
    1. Don’t try to copy everything across from c:\sw[p]55, since Registration is machine-specific. Install from scratch following our v5.5 installation instructions
    2. Start with the file swp-pro550.exe (95Mb) or sciword550.exe (73Mb), available from our download page v5.5 section (blue SWP box or yellow SW box) or our programs list
    3. Our website has the latest Build 2960; only use the CD if your CD says Build 2960 on the front
    4. Follow the v5.5 installation instructions precisely. Specifically, you must use right-click – Run as Administrator where indicated (Steps 2, 9, 12)
    5. The installation of TrueTeX might be blocked (the installer sits doing nothing for half an hour). Follow the link from Step 2 of our v5.5 installation instructions, saying:
      Windows 10/11 users: for possible problems, please see here (Item 6)
    6. The only valid form of registration is the Web option (Step 5) – see our August 2021 mailing Item 2
    7. At Step 6 do not enter your British English serial number even if you know it: see our February 2014 mailing Item 2. You will still be able to install the British English dictionary (Steps 9 to 11): download the zip file, unless you have a v5.5 CD
    8. At Step 12, check you have a dozen or so lines saying "Available" at Help – System Features.
    We hope these tips will save you some tears.


We send this circular mailing to users every couple of months or so – we hope it's helpful. But please just let us know if you no longer wish to remain on our database, and we'll confirm your removal within hours.

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
Email: christopher@sciword.co.uk
Web: https://www.sciword.co.uk