What software is used to create free body diagrams, inclines, springs and so on in the introductory physics textbooks ?

I know Adobe, Luxology, and many others could, but I am more interested in software with ready made objects, that could still create good looking diagrams with less effort. Most of the textbooks have 100s of such diagrams that are kind of good looking.

Similar to https://lpsa.swarthmore.edu/Systems/MechTranslating/TransMechSysLeversPulleys.html

screenshot of linked swathmore.edu page

  • 1
    Voting to close, as both to broad and off topic, "what are my shopping options" Dec 29, 2013 at 12:32
  • This is more best practices than shopping options, I think
    – DVK
    Dec 30, 2013 at 3:12
  • 2
    This seems a legit question to me, after all is about the creation of ebook content.
    – Sekhemty
    Dec 30, 2013 at 21:32

2 Answers 2


They are almost certainly done in TeX/LaTeX. TeX/LaTeX is not about "less effort", but exactness. It is a programming language for typesetting with a special emphasis on math and equations. TeX has a long history with the academic community in publishing. Explaining TeX and LaTeX is outside the scope of this forum (There is a TeX.stackexchange.com site). You can find some examples of how those types of diagrams are done here:


screenshot of linked page


I doubt if that particular one was done in LaTeX's native "picture" environment, but it might have been done with TikZ running inside LaTeX.

Any vector graphics package can produce this kind of diagram: an excellent open-source one is InkScape, but Libre Office Draw is also good. Both can save a PDF vector image, which can then be cropped and combined with LaTeX math typesetting if needed, and the resulting PDF can be converted to a JPG or PNG. InkScape also saves in SVG graphics format by default, but I don't know if EPUB3 handles that.

  • 2
    Going via PDF is a bad idea.
    – his
    Jan 7, 2014 at 1:33
  • Processing SVG is a chief raison d'être for ePub3.
    – Roger_S
    Jan 7, 2014 at 20:19

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