Category Archives: Productivity

How to Illustrate Your Work?

Microsoft PowerPoint, or similar presentation tools (Keynote for Mac, Open Office Impress for Linux), are indispensable for scientific illustrations. Many times, the basis for the illustration is some image, Matlab figure, or screenshot that you would like to edit, annotate, or expand. In other cases, you need just to make some simple graphics or schematics.

Start by opening the PowerPoint, and removing everything from the page (CTRL-A to select all, and DEL to delete everything). Load image if needed:

  1. If you want to upload some saved image from the disk, press on the TAB Insert and choose “Picture” from the toolbar. Browse to your image and insert it. You may resize the image by dragging its corners, or to crop it (THE MOST USEFUL FUNCTION – available in all office products) by clicking on “Picture Tools” TAB, and “Crop” button. Pressing this button creates small black dragging bars on the boundaries of the image. You may drag those bars to remove unnecessary parts of the image. You need to click “Crop” button again to finalize cropping. p1By the way, additional multiple picture corrections and style changes are available on the same toolbar. You may play with compression, colors, contrast, brightness, shadows, and various boundaries. Make sure that you are familiar with all of the available options.
  2. To insert Matlab plot or image, go to the Figure menu “Edit”, and choose “Copy Figure” p2Then paste it (CTRL-V) to the PowerPoint. Crop the image (or plot) if needed.
  3. To make a screenshot, just press CTRL-PrntScr, and paste to the PowerPoint. Crop if needed.

If you want to change the order of appearance of images or other objects, you may send them forward or backward by clicking on them and using right-click menu: p3

Now, you could add annotations and additional graphics by using shapes palette: p4

Those shapes could be placed anywhere, resized (using corners dragging), rotated (using small green dot on top of the shape bounding box), combined together (CTRL-left click on all shapes and images that should be combined, right click menu – grouping) and , recolored, and transformed in many other ways (using Drawing Tools toolbar). You have full control over those shapes appearance (by modifying shadows, border color, filling material and color – all of that through Drawing tools toolbar, which appears when some shape is selected. Make sure that you are familiar with all possibilities when working with shapes.

Tip: Many times it is preferable to use MATLAB annotation tools instead of PowerPoint. Those tools are available in MATLAB Insert menu of the Figure window.

To copy your illustration to a Word document, it is a good idea to select and group everything first (CTRL-A, right click -> Group -> Group). Then copy the selected illustration by CTRL-C, and use special paste as a picture in Word. The reason not to use the regular Paste is because it may distort the object sizes due to the limitations of Word document.


Writing Mathematical Formulas in Word Documents

First, you need to install the Mathematics add-in:

Word 2007-2010:

Word 2013:

After downloading and installing the add-in, you should see additional Tab in your Word:

Pressing on the “Equation” button will open equation editor with many different options and palettes:

Make sure that you play enough with this add-in to learn it well. In the homework, you’ll need to write matrices, upper and lower indices, equations, different symbols, Greek letters, etc. If you cannot find some symbol or formula, you could always use hand drawing of any formula by clicking on “Ink Equation”.

For additional information:

Another option is to use MathType:

This product is much more comprehensive and convenient to use, though it has two main disadvantages. First, it is not free (discounts are available) and only 30-day trial is available. Second, if you want to change the font size in your document, then you need to reopen every typed formula and to change the font size inside the MathType editor.

Wikis Comparison

I’ve decided to put my knowledge on the web. The best tool for that it’s wiki with all its inter/hyperlinks, categorization, and bread-crumbs. To find which wiki is right for me I’ve tried different wikis. Most of them are good for some specific purposes, others are just terrible and I don’t understand why are they still alive. Anyway, for my scientific purposes, I need the following.

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My Favorite Productivity Tools

Summarization of my favorite productivity software tools to manage papers, books, and knowledge in general.

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