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Setting WordPress Up for Scientific Typesetting

WordPress does not support many of the typesetting features I use daily: displaying mathematical formulas and symbols, generating bibliographies, and showing code with syntax highlighting.

Since I have just gone through the process of setting up WordPress to accommodate scientific typesetting, I thought it would be helpful to write up a short summary of how I went about it.

I am used to typesetting in LaTeX, and being able to write formulas as I am used to is at the top of my list, and I am guessing your’s too. For this purpose I use MathJax, which is an “open source JavaScript display engine for mathematics that works in all modern browsers”. In fact, I already had it on my server as a part of my MediaWiki setup. To use MathJax with WordPress, all I needed is the Mathjax Latex plugin. With this plugin I can produce math like the below:

(1)    \begin{align*} x_{t} &= \mu + \sigma_{t} z_{t} \\ \sigma^{2}_{t} &= \sigma^{2} + \alpha x_{t-1}^{2} \end{align*}

Next on the list is an easy solution to managing references. I use a .bib file (via Mendeley) to manage my references; thus, I searched for a solution that would let me build on that within WordPress. Turns out plugins with this functionality are few and far between; however, I did find one that fits the bill: papercite. This plugin can produce bibliographies from my bibtex library with minimal effort:

  • H. Hansen and S. Johansen, “Some Tests for Parameter Constancy in Cointegrated VAR-Models,” The econometrics journal, vol. 2, iss. 2, pp. 306-333, 1999.
    [Bibtex]
    @article{Hansen1999,
    author = {Hansen, Henrik and Johansen, Søren},
    journal = {The Econometrics Journal},
    month = dec,
    number = {2},
    pages = {306--333},
    title = {{Some Tests for Parameter Constancy in Cointegrated VAR-Models}},
    volume = {2},
    year = {1999}
    }
  • S. F. Yap and G. C. Reinsel, “Estimation and Testing for Unit Roots in a Partially Nonstationary Vector Autoregressive Moving Average Model,” Journal of the american statistical association, vol. 90, iss. 429, pp. 253-267, 1995.
    [Bibtex]
    @article{Yap1995,
    author = {Yap, Sook F. and Reinsel, Gregory C.},
    journal = {Journal of the American Statistical Association},
    number = {429},
    pages = {253--267},
    title = {{Estimation and Testing for Unit Roots in a Partially Nonstationary Vector Autoregressive Moving Average Model}},
    volume = {90},
    year = {1995}
    }
  • R. F. Engle, “Autoregressive Conditional Heteroscedasticity with Estimates of the Variance of United Kingdom Inflation,” Econometrica, vol. 50, iss. 4, pp. 987-1007, 1982.
    [Bibtex]
    @article{Engle1982,
    author = {Engle, Robert F.},
    journal = {Econometrica},
    number = {4},
    pages = {987--1007},
    title = {{Autoregressive Conditional Heteroscedasticity with Estimates of the Variance of United Kingdom Inflation}},
    volume = {50},
    year = {1982}
    }

Finally, I want to be able to display code in an easy and readable manner.For this there were a number of plugins, but one seemed to outshine the lot: SyntaxHighlighter Evolved. It supports a long list of languages, and can be customized with themes. Moreover, like MathJax, it is built on a general purpose JavaScript package, so I may be able to use it with my MediaWiki as well! This code is presented with SyntaxHighlighter Evolved:

for (decl t=1;t<T;++i)
{
   Q[t][] = Q[t-1][] * phi[t][]' + eps[t][];
}

Lastly, I also want a WordPress theme which has the same visual characteristics as a sheet of paper, i.e. not disproportionately wide, single column, black text on white etc. I ended up selecting “Swedish Greys” by Nordic Themepark, but there were many good options to choose from.

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Swedish Greys - a WordPress theme from Nordic Themepark.