Fairly high on my list of "I want those hours of my life back" is time spent wrangling my LaTeX to compile correctly with the style files provided by journal publishers, and subsequently dealing with copyeditors who introduce errors while making my papers conform to "house style".

Back when the primary medium of a journal was a paper publication, I suppose maybe it made some sense for all the papers in one journal to look the same. But nowadays I acquire nearly all math papers electronically, and I assume the same is true for many if not most mathematicians. Is there any good reason for journals to continue to insist on a house style?

To be clear, I certainly understand that some minimal requirements are necessary. For instance, a journal that has a print version will certainly want consistency in font size and margins, to ensure a fair comparison of the lengths of different papers. And I recognize that copyeditors serve a useful function in general. But I don't see why a journal needs to require that I use their custom .cls file that is (for instance) incompatible with standard packages like amsthm, numbers equations as (1) (2) (3) rather than the more useful (1.3) (3.2) (5.3), or requires enumerated lists to be labeled 1.2.3 instead of (i)(ii)(iii).

(I recognize that this question is not intrinsically specific to mathematics. However, it seems especially relevant to mathematicians, and the people who I expect may be able to answer it, such as editors of math journals, seem likely to be found here in greater numbers than on any other stackexchange site.)


closed as off-topic by Gerald Edgar, Alexey Ustinov, Chris Godsil, HJRW, Ramiro de la Vega Jul 13 '17 at 15:10

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about research level mathematics within the scope defined in the help center." – Gerald Edgar, Alexey Ustinov, Chris Godsil, HJRW, Ramiro de la Vega
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ This might fit at academia.stackexchange.com Editors at journals do not necessarily have any say in the issue, this can come from the publisher. Why do you expect good explanations of the policies of Springer and Elsevier here? There is also no evidence whatsoever that this is specific to mathematics, indeed journals in pretty much every field have such specific conventions. Oftentimes, they are worse (take a look at the APA manual). $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Jul 13 '17 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker I did not expect editors to determine the issue, but I thought that they might have some inside insight into how it is determined. I do not necessarily "expect" good explanations: an answer of "no, there is no good reason" would be a perfectly good answer. I did think it was specific to mathematics and related fields because of the LaTeX issues. $\endgroup$ – Mike Shulman Jul 13 '17 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl In my experience practically every journal web site's "submission instructions for authors" says "prepare your latex using our style file". $\endgroup$ – Mike Shulman Jul 19 '17 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeShulman Yeah, at times I have seen this as well -- of course nobody is unhappy if you do their work for free ... ! $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jul 19 '17 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl To be honest, given my poor experiences with copyeditors, I would be kind of scared at what they would do to my latex trying to make it compile with their style file. $\endgroup$ – Mike Shulman Jul 19 '17 at 17:13