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Question about exporting to EMF file to be copied to Word

Asked by Juan P. Viera on 20 May 2013

Hi to everyone,

I am writing a document in Word 2010 and I am putting a lot of effort into my figures and figure quality. I have a function that sets the plot format, font and figure sizes, and so on, and then I print the figure as a file. I copy the file to Word and write text and so on.

Until now, I printed (or exported) figures as PNG and then copied the files to Word. PNG imports with no issues in Word, but to have good zooming quality I need to use something like 1000 or 1200 dpi. For me that is not a problem, but if you zoom in enough you can, of course, see the limit. Recently I was checking out a thesis from a friend who did all his calculations and plots in Mathcad, and he had very sharp looking plots. I asked him how did he render his plots and he didn't even know about rendering, he just copied them from Mathcad to word as metafiles, so without knowing much, he ended up with very crisp vector figures. So, after reviewing the MATLAB print function I saw that this format, which as you know is a vector format, is supported by MATLAB and this got in to my head because the electronic version would end up having resolution-free very cool figures.

The problem is:

When I export to .emf using "print('-dmeta',figname)" I do get a vector (I think so because I open the .emf and zoom to like %2400 and it seems resolution-free), BUT I loose my line width settings, maybe I loose marker sizes as well, long story short, the figure ends up being very different from what I set it up to be. This is not only in display but also paper printed.

Since I know that some vector files have raster images stored in for screen display, I though maybe I needed to specify a resolution, like when printing a bitmap. So later, doing some senseless tests I found out that if I do this instead: "print('-dmeta','-r1200',figname)", the figure looks very alike the PNG (screen display and printed version, it seems to keep the format I wanted), for some reason, and when the Word is printed to PDF, the figure is still vector and looks awesome. Then, I noticed that if I use 'r500' I get the same file (or at least looks like it, comparing in Word and they have the same file sizes), but then if I use 'r50' I get a smaller file size and in Word the figure looks like the one where I did not specify an 'rnumber' (very thin lines, and prints like crap).

The questions are:

1. What does the 'rnumber' options does to the EMF file exported? What does it control when talking about vector files, or especially EMF files? What should I set it to?

2. Should I use "painters" renderer? I don't see any difference between not specifying a renderer and using painters (at least for simple line plots).

3. Should I really go through this or just take the PNG route and print to something like 1400dpi and forget about this?

I am haunted by the idea of having resolution-free figures in the electronic version of my thesis, but maybe that is pointless.

Thanks in advance and sorry if the question got too long, I think I needed to give the full panorama.

PS: I know Word is crap, but I am writing this thesis while I work 9h/day so I decided not to use time to learn Latex, sorry.

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Juan P. Viera

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Answer by Juan P. Viera on 3 Jul 2013

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Juan P. Viera

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