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Old 06-30-2011, 09:36 AM   #1
tkmudholkar
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Question Support for mathematical equations in PDFs

Hi everyone,

I am a student and have to read a lot of PDFs, some of which are journal papers and include mathematical equations and symbols. I am thinking of getting an Amazon Kindle 3, and I wanted to ask how good support is for displaying mathematical equations as part of PDFs. I don't mind panning and zooming as long as the images and symbols are displayed correctly.

Also, how well are symbols and mathematical equations preserved during conversion of PDFs to other formats like MOBI or EPUB? From my experience after installing Calibre, it seems that conversion kills any mathematical stuff.

I'm sorry if this has been asked before. Could someone just provide me a link to the relevant thread/webpage?

Thanks!
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:06 AM   #2
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If the math fonts are embedded in the PDF (they often are, but I've encountered some cases where they aren't), they should work in any decent PDF reader, and I guess the Kindle3 is/has one of them.

Conversion to other formats is a whole different matter, and I wouldn't much from it.
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Old 06-30-2011, 02:29 PM   #3
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It depends on where you're preparing your source doc. You can write your document in Word (where equation support kind of...umm...sucks), and save it as PDF. Or you can use something like LaTeX to prepare your document, in which case your PDF can look like it was professionally typeset.

When I was in college for a maths degree, I always used the MiKTeX platform (on Windows) to prepare any documents that had equations. Trying to coerce Word into behaving itself was just too dispiriting.

I've yet to find a good PDF to [epub|mobi] conversion. Even when there's zero complexity in the document. Seems like you lose most/all formatting or layout.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by JDK1962; 06-30-2011 at 02:31 PM. Reason: forgot conversion part of response
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Old 06-30-2011, 03:58 PM   #4
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@Jellby: Thanks very much for your time. What happens if the font is not embedded? I'm guessing this must be true of old papers. Will they not display equations then? I'm also willing to go for the Kobo if its pdf support is as good as Kindle's.
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Old 06-30-2011, 03:58 PM   #5
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@JDK1962: Thanks very much for your time. I think I should have stated my question more clearly: Given that I am willing to pan and zoom, will I find the Kindle useful in reading scientific literature containing mathematical equations? From Jellby's reply above, it seems the answer is 'in most cases'. Could I get a more definite, Kindle 3-specific reply? I'm also willing to go for the Kobo if its pdf support is as good as Kindle's.
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Old 06-30-2011, 04:10 PM   #6
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Ah, ok.

If you don't mind pan and scan (big if), I've never noticed an instance where materials in the PDF were not properly presented. In other words, if the PDF looks good on your computer, it'll look good on the Kindle 3...just much, much smaller. Is it possible to have a font embedded in the PDF that the Kindle 3 would simply not display? I guess it's possible...I haven't seen that yet, though, and I've looked at a fair amount of PDF.

I've tried switching to landscape mode, as well as magnifying, but am not a big fan of looking at chunks of the PDF page at a time. The best solution I've come upon so far is to wear a pair of "reader" glasses that magnify the image 1.5x - 2.5x.
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Old 06-30-2011, 04:28 PM   #7
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Hi tkmudholkar-

I have a kindle dx for the sole purpose of reading physics papers. Overall, I've found that the support for math equations in pdfs is very good, with one notable exception. Overall it handles the equations in pdfs really well- pretty much it'll appear the same way as it does on the computer screen. The only thing I've found is that for pdfs compiled with pdflatex, the letter beta is printed over top of the previous letter. This happens on all ereaders using a pdf viewer based on adobe's toolkit- including the nook and sony ereaders. However, if you can get the latex code, you can work around this by compiling to postscript and then converting to pdf. (For all the papers on the arxiv, you can get the latex code.) With that one caveat, though, I've found that the display of math equations is great.

One other thing, though- it doesn't support hyperlinks in pdfs. If you're reading long pdfs (from summer schools or such), it can be difficult to navigate. But, except for the letter beta, equation support in pdfs is very good.
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Old 07-01-2011, 04:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkmudholkar View Post
@Jellby: Thanks very much for your time. What happens if the font is not embedded? I'm guessing this must be true of old papers. Will they not display equations then? I'm also willing to go for the Kobo if its pdf support is as good as Kindle's.
If the font is not embedded, you probably won't see some characters, or see some other character instead. I have some PDF papers which, when I open them in my linux machine, show bullets instead of sum signs, or integrals, or whatever, and complain of some font missing. In general, most papers have no problems at all.
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Old 07-02-2011, 02:57 PM   #9
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Thanks to all for their time and help!
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Old 07-03-2011, 07:17 AM   #10
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Word 2010 and Adobe Acrobat X will output PDFs with equations just fine.

Alternatively you could try Libre Office.

ePub or Mobi ? You'll probably have to use PNG or SVG for the equations.
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