Nick George
Science Programming

Science without Microsoft Office

First published: October 26, 2017
Last updated: July 6, 2021

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I recently had the freeing feeling that comes from wiping your hard drive and getting a fresh start. I have been using emacs and org-mode for virtually everything from programming to making documents and presentations, so when I was installing things on my newly cleaned computer, I just didn't find myself missing anything from the Microsoft Office suite.

However, just because I'm off the microsoft train doesn't mean everyone else is… I still need to look at other people's office stuff (mostly .docx, and .xlsx), but I really didn't want to install the whole suite just for that. So I used homebrew to download the LibreOffice suite, and despite some minor problems with rendering powerpoints, this has worked great!

Posters with Inkscape

Inkscape is a the free vector graphics program that is excellent for making posters (and figures). I started using this post as a guide. Here are some notes about making posters with Inkscape:

  • Poster size: To set this up in Inkscape, open File>Document Properties then select Page size. Then, just make everything fit.

  • General layout: I like to use guideboxes (of known dimensions) as a guide when making the poster. So if I am doing a three column poster, I will use three, equal sized boxes to help guide spacing and alignment.

  • Align and Distribute: Even if Inkscape offered nothing else, these tools make it worth it. Don't even think about comparing them to PowerPoint's laughable "align" options. Try it, you'll never go back.


I use Emacs org-mode. see my post on org-ref

More coming soon