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Introduction to Scientific Workplace v5.5

This page is maintained by the software tutors. For errors and/or amendments please contact the current tutor supporting the program.



Welcome to the Scientific WorkPlace support service at the EUI!


Scientific WorkPlace is a word processor plus symbolic calculator widely used by researchers who want to combine text and mathematics in their documents and/or perform symbolic computations. It is based on the typesetting language TeX/LaTeX and on two built-in computer algebra systems Maple V and MuPAD. Upon typesetting, TeX/LaTeX automatically generates footnotes, indexes, bibliographies, tables of contents, and cross-references. It also offers automatic numbering of sections, equations, and theorems, providing highest typesetting quality and much more:



Installation Notes

In Computer Rooms

The Computing Service has installed Scientific WorkPlace 5.5 under Windows and it can be directly accessed from any EUI computer.

On your own computer

You can also install Scientific WorkPlace 5.5 on your own PC by borrowing a license from the ICT.
Note: detailed and up-to-date Installation Instructions are available here.


Getting Help

Online Help system

SWP 5.5 has well-documented online Help facilities that can be accessed from the menu bar by choosing Help. In addition to the standard help items, you can also work through online tutorial exercises "Before You Start", "Creating a Simple Document", "Printing and Typesetting", "Creating an Advanced Document", "Creating Mathematics", and "Performing Computations", which are indispensably provided with the program and can be accessed by choosing Contents -> Learn the Basics from the Help menu.

Internet link:


Creating and Working with Documents

Document shell and class options

You create a new document by choosing the shell for the type of document you want to create. Choose the document type with care since all types do not have the same document elements (e.g. front matter elements or theorem environments), and converting to a different document type at a later time can cause unpredictable results.

I would recommend choosing Standard LaTex/Blank-Standard LaTex Article since this option would give you more flexibility to incorporate and/or change specific format elements.

You can also use any document as a shell for a new document by saving the former as a shell (*.shl) file. For documents created with most shells, you can modify the typesetting specifications somewhat by changing the document class options, such as body text font size, page orientation, paper size, etc. From the Typeset menu choose Options and Packages, then choose Class Options and Modify by changing the options you want to modify.

Caution!  The program passes the typesetting options directly to LaTeX for processing when you typeset your documents. You are strongly advised against attempts at extensive modification of the specifications, particularly if you are not extremely familiar with TeX and LaTeX.  Incorrect syntax can cause LaTeX to fail and may damage your document permanently.

Typesetting, previewing and printing

You can preview and print documents with and without typesetting them first. If you want to obtain a different appearance from the display based on typesetting specifications and other formatting features, and to allow an automatic generation of document elements (e.g. table of contents, cross-references, automatically numbered equations, bibliographies), you should use typesetting. To Typeset your document from the Typeset menu, choose Typeset Print. Depending on the complexity of your document, the program may pass it through LaTeX several times. To print your document without typesetting it: from the File menu, choose Print.

How to modify typsetting specifications

The packages used by SWP document shells have been carefully chosen to achieve certain typesetting results. However, if you want to change the typesetting you may need to add a package to your document. If you add packages, you may also be able to specify package options and arguments for the packages. On occasion, you may want to use a package that isn't part of your program installation. In that case, you must add it to the installation before you can add it to your document.

Note: Unless you're very familiar with LaTeX and LaTeX packages, do not attempt to remove packages specified by the document shell.

From the Package Options tab, you can see the list of packages in effect and those that are available to be added to your document. The order in which you specify packages can affect typesetting behavior.

By default, the program automatically manages LaTeX packages, adding certain packages such as “amsmath” to most SWP and SW documents. This package enhances the typeset appearance of mathematical formulas, especially those involving displayed equations, multiline sub- and superscripts, and other mathematical constructs.

To add a package to the typesetting specifications for your document:

1. From the Typeset menu, choose Options and Packages.

2. Choose the Package Options tab.

3. If the package you want to add isn't listed in the Packages in Use box, choose Add.

4. Scroll the Packages list to select the package you want, and then choose OK.

5. If you need to reorder the packages in the Packages in Use list, select a package and use the Move Up or Move Down controls to place the package in the correct position. The package documentation indicates when package order is important.

6. If options are listed for the package, select the options you want: Choose Modify. Select the option you want and choose OK.

7. Choose OK to return to your document.

If the package you want isn't listed as available in your version of SWP or SW, you can go native to add the LaTeX commands that force the program to use the package. When you typeset your document, the program passes the typesetting information directly to LaTeX for processing. If the commands have an error, LaTeX won't be able to typeset your document or to create a DVI file. Further, incorrect syntax can damage your document beyond repair.

Useful examples:

To change the typeset margin settings:

1. Add the geometry package to your document.

2. Save the document.

3. From the Typeset menu, choose Preamble.

4. On a new line at the end of the entries, type: geometry{left=win,right=xin,top=yin,bottom=zin}

where “w” and “x” are the left and right margins, “y” is the top margin; “z” is the bottom margin and “in” are inches.

5. Choose OK.

To change the line spacing of the entire document:

1. Add the setspace package to your document.

2. From the Packages in Use box, select setspace and choose Modify.

3. In the Category box, select Line Spacing.

4. In the Options box, select the spacing you want.

5. Choose OK twice to return to your document.

To change font characteristics and alignment:

Go to Tag/Tag appearance and select the type of tag you want to change and the Tag properties you want to modify (font, alignment, etc.). To change the whole text choose the Body Text Tag.

Note: When you save the changes you have two options: If you click OK the change will be lost when you close the document. If you click Save your changes will be applied to all the documents in your computer that have the same style.


SWP toolbars are customisable: you can turn them off and on, reshape them, move them, change the size of the buttons, and hide or display the tooltips that describe the buttons. Also, you can customise the buttons on the Symbol Cache toolbar and on the symbol panels.

It is usually helpful to add the toolbars you use most often. In particular, as an economist I would recommend you add the following toolbars: Math Templates, Symbol Cache, Math Objects and Symbol Panels.

To display or hide the toolbars:

1. From the View menu, choose Toolbars.

2. Check the name of each toolbar you want to display and uncheck the name of each toolbar you want to hide.

3. Choose Close.

Format your text

Apply tags to your content to change the screen appearance of your document or format it for printing or exporting when you don’t typeset. The typesetting specifications govern the document appearance when you typeset.

Tags are available from the tag boxes at the bottom of the screen. Some examples are: Remove Item Tag (Alt + 1), Section/Body Tag (Alt + 2), Text Tag (Alt + 3).

Including tables/fragments

You can create an in-line table or a table that can float unanchored to a specific place until you typeset your document. To enter an in-line table choose Table from the Insert menu and specify the dimensions you want. To create a table that can float choose from the File menu Import Fragment and then choose the fragment named Table - (4x3, floating).frg. To specify numbering, a caption, and a key for a table that can float, double-click the caption gray box and replace Table caption and key with the ones you want for the table. Edit the number of rows and columns using Insert Rows, Insert Columns and Delete from the Edit menu.

The program provides you with a wide assortment of predefined fragments. In addition, you can create a fragment by saving portions of text or mathematics using Save Fragment from the File menu.

Note: Only tables that can float can have keys for use in cross-references, can be automatically numbered by LaTeX when you typeset, and can also have captions.

Including figures

Choose Import Picture from the File menu to include a figure, which is stored in a graphics file. Alternatively, you can paste a picture from the clipboard into your document. Choose Properties from the Edit menu or click the Properties button to change figure size, positioning, and labeling.

Note: When you import a graphic, the program creates a link to the graphics file, which remains as a separate file in its original location. Use Document Manager from the Tools menu to handle graphics correctly when you copy, delete, rename a document or when you send or receive files by e-mail.

Creating a title page/abstract/table of contents

Front matter is the information that generally appears at the front of a document--the title page or title area, abstract, table of contents, and other such information. Usually, you enter front matter content by entering information in fields. The available fields appear in the Item Tag list and depend on the typesetting specifications for the shell you use to create the document.

For most shells, the defined front matter fields are in the Front Matter dialog box. All text in the Front Matter dialog box must be entered in an appropriate field. Any text not in a field is discarded when you save your document.

When you typeset your document, LaTeX or pdfLaTeX generates and formats the information according to the specifications.

Note: You must typeset the document to generate the front matter. If you don't typeset, the front matter isn't generated and doesn't appear on the preview screen or in print.

To create typeset front matter:

1. From the Typeset menu, choose Front Matter to open the Front Matter dialog box. Some shells have Front Matter fields already entered in the box. Each field is indicated by a shaded box labeled with the name of the field.

2. Delete or edit the existing fields or add new fields as necessary. To add a front matter field: Place the insertion point at the end of the paragraph that is to precede the new field. Press Enter. Apply the item tag for the field you want from the Tag toolbar and type the text of the new field.

Usually, the order in which front matter items appear on the typeset page depends on the typesetting specifications associated with the shell you use to create your document. Occasionally, however, the order in which you specify certain front matter items in the Front Matter dialog box determines their order on the typeset page. In these few styles, you can change the order in which the various front matter items appear by changing the order in which their corresponding fields appear in the dialog box.

Note: The available front matter items are different from shell to shell.

Creating bibliography

There are two modes of organising your bibliography depending on whether your list of references is short or long and whether you plan to use those references in other articles.

  • For a short list of references it is more convenient to create bibliography manually. To do this, apply the Bibliography item tag from the Item Tag list once you fix the insertion point at the end of the line that is to precede the bibliography.
  • For a long list of references that you plan to use also in other articles (and books) it is more expedient to create a BibTeX bibliography. You must first create or obtain a database of bibliographic items in BibTeX form. Several sample databases with a .bib file extension are provided with the program. Once one or more BibTeX databases are established, the required database can be included by choosing from the Insert menu Typeset Object -> Bibliography.

The default mode is Manual Entry that can be changed by choosing Bibliography Choice from the Typeset menu.

Spell Check

Choose Spelling from the Tools menu or click the Spelling (ABC) button. The available language is American English.


Doing Mathematics

Entering mathematics

To enter mathematics, choose either Math or Display from the Insert menu. The former choice enters mathematics as a normal text (to leave math mode choose Text from the Insert menu), while the latter creates an expression that is set off from the surrounding text. Then simply enter the desired expression.

Using mathematics

To perform a symbolic or (small) numerical calculation, enter a mathematical expression and (with the cursor in the expression) choose the desired mode of evaluation from the Compute menu.

Examples are Evaluate, Evaluate Numerically, Simplify, Factor, Check Equality, Solve, Solve ODE and many more.

There are submenus for Statistics, Matrices, Calculus, etc., and for creating two- and three-dimensional plots with Plot 2D and Plot 3D.

Plot an expression

1. Change to mathematics mode (Ctrl+M).

2. Enter the expression just as you would normally write mathematics.

3. With the insertion point to the right of the expression, choose Compute and then choose Plot 2D or Plot3D, or click the corresponding buttons on the Compute toolbar.

4. Change the plot properties, such as plot style or range: Select the plot and click the blue icon in the lower right corner of the plot. Use the tabs in the Plot Properties dialog to edit the properties as necessary.

You can rotate a 3D plot by double-clicking it and then dragging the cursor over the plot to rotate it.


Saving SWP Documents as .PDF Files

To save your Scientific WorkPlace document as a .pdf file use the Compile PDF, Preview PDF and Print PDF commands from the Typeset menu. In this version, no additional software is necessary to create .pdf files, but to preview and print a .pdf file you must use a .pdf viewer such as Adobe Acrobat.


Some Common Errors and Useful Tips

Filenames: Scientific WorkPlace does not support filenames with spaces between words.

Vertical spacing: Avoid entering several vertical spaces (by clicking Enter) one after another. Instead, from the Insert menu choose Spacing -> Vertical Space and specify the desired size of the space.

Shortcuts: There are numerous shortcuts (e.g. all the little buttons around the screen) that allow you to accomplish the same and other tasks much more efficiently. Also, you may find it very convenient, for example, to use Insert button on the keyboard for changing from Text to Math and back.

Modifications of typesetting specifications: You are strongly advised against attempts at extensive modification of the specifications, particularly if you are not extremely familiar with TeX/LaTeX.

When you get an error message and are not able to produce the .pdf version of the file, it is usually helpful to open a new document and try to identify the specific part of the document that is causing the problem by doing copy and paste.

An important feature of SWP is that it only allows you to undo the last operation or command you executed and that it does not backup your file at regular intervals automatically. Therefore it is useful to activate the quick-load backup feature, that allows you to backup your open, named document regularly at intervals you specify. The initial default is 20 minutes.

To turn on automatic saving:

1. From the Tools menu, choose User Setup.

2. Choose the Files tab.

3. Check the box marked Automatic Saving.

4. Type or use the up and down arrows next to the box to set the frequency of automatic saving.

5. Choose OK.

The operation saves a quick-load copy of each open document using the same name as the document and a file extension of .aut. The feature works only with named files; you must name the file before the program can back it up automatically at the specified intervals. Your document remains open after the backup operation so that you can continue to work on it.

Note:  The .aut file is saved in the same directory and on the same drive as the .tex file for the document. Because any problems with the disk can damage all the files, you should regularly store copies of your documents on a file server, on CD or floppy disks, or on a backup tape.

When the quick-load backup feature is in use and you save and close a document normally, the program discards the .aut file. The next time you open your document, the program will try to open the most recent version of the document. If the most recent version is an .aut file, the program asks if you want to open it instead of the older .tex version. If you choose not to open the .aut file, the program discards it.

Note: Each time you save a file manually, the program sets the backup counter to zero. This means that if you always save manually before the end of the time interval you specify, the program never automatically saves your document and never creates an .aut file.

You can find more detailed instructions for working with Scientific WorkPlace in the online Help system, which contains tutorial exercises and extensive information about entering text and mathematics and performing computations.



To be continued - suggestions are welcome!



Page last updated on 17 August 2017

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