Inkscape tips

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Inkscape logo 2.png

This will be some instructions for installing and using Inkscape. Inkscape is a vector graphics editor. It can be used to edit PDF files although the native file format is Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). The context in which this may be particularly useful to QERMies is modifying R output to add LaTeX characters to plots, which can't be done directly in R at this time.

Inkscape Installation

  • In Ubuntu Linux, be proud that Inkscape is included in the latest version by default.

Enabling of LaTeX features

  • Go to and follow the instructions for installing the textext extension. This will include installing pstoedit and ghostscript if you don't have them already. It's worth noting that this extension is written by a grad student in Finland.

Using Inkscape

Sadly the documentation for Inkscape is not great. Here are a few tips to do a couple simple tasks.

  • To add LaTeX text after you've installed textext: using pull down menus, go to Effects > textext. Fill in the LaTeX code that you want to include, optionally specifying a preamble file, which is not a full LaTeX document, but just a list of packages or definitions. You can't actually specify where this text will appear, so you have to move it to the desired location after it's been created. You can edit the LaTeX code by selecting the printed text and going back to Effects > textext. Unfortunately, the LaTeX output seems to be appearing upside down. Inkscape has a flip vertically button and menu item to fix this, or you can rescale by dragging a corner of the text object with the mouse (to preserve aspect ratio, hold down shift).
  • Any of the text, points, lines, polygons, etc. that are created by R or textext can be modified in Inkscape. However, they are often grouped initially. To ungroup the objects to allow them to be moved around, recolored, resized, etc., select the object and use the menu Object > Ungroup, or control-shift-G. You may find yourself needing to ungroup 2-3 times before the object you want is sufficiently separated from the others. Obviously this process can be reversed through grouping.
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