MetaOCaml proof

No, not proof of a theorem… a pre-print from Elsevier, the publisher of my MetaOCaml paper. It arrived by email this morning. So far, practically all of my publications are with ACM or Springer. This is the first that will appear in ScienceDirect. I almost feel like a real scientist. :P


Without digressing too much on the role of scientific publishers in the Internet age, one thing I do enjoy is getting back a proof that looks like a proper article. Whether it's due to the banner, or little widgets they add in the header and footer, or just a typeface other than Computer Modern or Times, at least it looks like it was touched by a publishing house since I submitted it.

I'm reminded of visiting technical and academic bookstores when I was still an undergrad, or the first years of grad school. I would pick up a slim $90, 180-page treatise by some professor, and be disappointed when it looked exactly like what I could have printed out myself if only I had access to the .tex file: the Computer Modern typeface and LaTeX book class, with all the default settings. Not that these are necessarily ugly, they're just not special. For $90 a copy, is it too much to ask that the publisher hire a designer?

The strange thing with this paper is that I used the LaTeX document class provided by Elsevier for my manuscript, and it looked like garbage. It was full of widows and orphans and huge irregular spaces between paragraphs. One of the reviewers even commented, “this can't possibly be done by TeX.” I was indeed embarrassed by the typography, and I could have fixed it, but I chose not to stray from the publisher's settings.

Maybe their public document class is intentionally crummy. That way, when you get back the real proofs, you'll be pleasantly surprised. It will look like they actually did something in exchange for you relinquishing your copyright…

©20022015 Christopher League