The SWP Survival Guide

Introduction | Figures | Line Spacing | Margins | PDF (creation of) | Quotation Marks| Shells (APSA/OSU) | Tables | Forthcoming


So your advisor just told you he doesn't understand why you have this ugly ultra wide margin on the left and he can't read what your writing because the font is too small and he wants you to change it if he's going to give you the go ahead to defend! After 3 nights of going through all the styles SWP offers and not finding one that fits all the requirements you have, you are about to cry and drop out of your Ph.D. program. Alas, here's a quick and dirty guide that answers many questions about how to get SWP to make documents the way you want them. This is NOT a guide on how to do stuff properly, but more of a cheat sheet on how to get quick results. Of course, in a perfect world none of this would be necessary since we would all write Shell files that would specify everything we want in a document. However, most of us won't do this because: (a) we are to lazy to learn how, (b) the deadline to submit our paper to that conference is tomorrow and so we don't have time to learn how, or (c) put your own reason here. Naturally, none of these methods come with any guarantee. Please DO NOT SEND US QUESTIONS (although if you insist, send them by snail mail accompanied by a check for $1000 US drawn on an American bank account and we will look into your query but we make no promise we'll send you an answer), we are not a help desk. If there are problems to which you can't find the solution here, we suggest you go to MacKichan's website or to the Scientific Workplace User Forum. On the other hand, if you have comments/suggestions/additions, write to either or both of us: David or Guillaume. Note that we both use SWP 3.00, hence some of what we write here might not work with your version.


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Line Spacing

Here you have multiple choices. Here are 4:

  1. Select Typeset/preamble, you'll see a box appear, in it type: \renewcommand{\baselinestretch}{xxx}, where xxx is the number by which you want to stretch. xxx = 2 will give you double space and xxx = 1 single space.
  2. Select Insert/Field/TeX, you'll see a box appear, in it type: \renewcommand{\baselinestretch}{xxx}\small\normalsize, where xxx is as in option 1 above. Select encapsulated, then give it the name of your choice. (After doing it once, you can simply copy paste the Tex Field across documents.) If you wonder why we issue font size changes in this command, we are not sure why, but its related to the fact that the spacing changes only take effect when a font command is issued (so \small changes it first and \normalsize changes it back to its normal size. If you were changing spacing in a part of your document were the font was small (e.g. a footnote), then you would want to change the code to something like \renewcommand{\baselinestretch}{xxx}\normalsize\small.
  3. Select Typeset/Options and Packages, then select the Package Options tab and press add, scroll down and select doublespace and press OK. Note that if the doublespace package is not available you can use the Go Native command but why don't you use one of the other options we propose. Then do one of the following.
Note that using baselinestretch (without the doublespace package) will also impose those choices on footnotes, tables, bibliography, etc. (If you add the doublespace package, the original typesetting choices will apply to other parts of the document.) So, for instance, if you want your text to be double space, but your footnotes to be smaller and single spaced, you'll need to add at the beginning of each footnote the Tex Field with the following code: \renewcommand{\baselinestretch}{1}\normalsize\small. Suppose you also want your tables to be single spaced, but you want the font to remain the same size, you need to add a TeX Field with the code \renewcommand{\baselinestretch}{1}\small\normalsize before the table, and after the table, you need to copy the Tex filed you have put at the beginning of the document.


Unlike the typical word processing program where you choose the margin size and the text fills the remaining area, with LaTex you specify the size of the available text area and the rest will be margins. The trick is to set the margins how you want them for each side. For example, for an 8.5 x 11 paper choosing text size of 6.5 x 9 will allow for 2 inches worth of margins, but will not necessarily give you 1 inch margins on each side and top and bottom. The default for articles seems to be a text area of 4.75 x 7.50 centered, which coincides with right and left margins of 1 7/8 and top and bottom margins of 1 3/4. Here are the commands which you can place in the preamble that come in handy:


\setlength{\oddsidemargin}{0in} sets the left margin to 1 inch. The right margin will depend on what you have choosen for textwidth.

\setlength{\topmargin}{0in} sets the top margin to 1 inch. Actually you will still get 1.5 inch top margin because of space reserved for the header and the space between the header and body text. You can get rid of the extra half inch by choosing topmargin of -.5 inch or using the following commands

\setlength{\headheight}{0in} to set the height of every page's header to 0

\setlength{\headsep}{0in} to set the header-bodytext distance to 0

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PDF (creation of)

This very easy, you go to and read David's how to guide. Alternatively, you can read Philip Viton's Automating PDF Production with SWP.

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Quotation Marks

Now this seems trivial, but I don't know how many papers out there (definitely too many) have closing quotation marks to both open and close quotes. The key for the opening quotation marks is NOT the key to the left of the Enter key with '' on top and ' at the bottom. Rather you have to hit -- twice -- the key at the top left of your keyboard (not the Esc key silly, the one with a ~ on top and a ` on the bottom). Alternatively, if you don't get enough exercise and you think your way back to a 32 inches waist is to roll that mouse around, you can also get to it through the General Punctuation toolbar.

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As of now we have two shells. The first one is a shell to submit articles to any journal affiliated with the American Political Science Association (APSA) which includes the American Political Science Review (APSR). The second one is a shell to writte a thesis at Ohio State University (OSU).

  1. If you want to submit a paper to a journal affiliated with the APSA such as the APSR, you can use the apsa shell (this was written by Guillaume). The first thing you should do is order your copy of the Style Manual
  2. . Then you can download the apsa shell to your ..\Shells\Journal Articles directory and you are ready to go. When you open a new document just select Journal Articles and apsa.
  3. Are you struggling with your thesis (OSU students only). Here's the answer: the osuthesis shell (this was written by both of us). Just unzip the archive in your SWP directory (before you do that you should read the readme file that comes with the archive) and voila, you are in business. Prior to all of this though, you should take a look at the OSU guidelines for writting a thesis. We want to give special thanks to Philip A. Viton who gave us the information that allowed us to get started on this project.

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When creating tables it is important (for typesetting purposes) always to use the table4_3 fragment. Put your cursor where you want the table, and either select File/Import Fragment then select the table4_3.frg file or go to the fragment scroll down menu (bottom right of your screen) and select table4_3. Then either fill in the sample table that appeared or replace it with the table you want.

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It is not clear when we'll have time, but we are planning on adding stuff to this page. In no particular order, here are some of the things we plan to add:

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Back to Guillaume's econ page
Back to David's page

Created on ... March 25, 2002