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When browsing through Alain Connes' textbook on Noncommutative Geometry, whose illustrations must have been conceived as true works of love, I was wondering if there is a recognized prize for aesthetically pleasing textbooks in Mathematics (and/or the other sciences.)

For what it's worth, I am also very much impressed by the structural and visually beauty of textbooks by Gilbert Strang, Serge Lang, and David McKay (and I sure hope this is not too "soft" a question for this forum :)

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The Leroy P. Steele Prize is awarded for expository mathematical works. I share your appreciation of aesthetic value in math literature (which many authors evidently see as unnecessary).

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There's something to be said even just for quality typography. It's really a crying shame that not a few absolute classics, like von Neumann's Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics and Milnor and Stasheff's Characteristic Classes, haven't yet been re-typeset with LaTeX---I can't believe I'm the only one who finds the old, pre-LaTeX "typewriter"-style typesetting painful on the eyes. –  Branimir Ćaćić Jan 4 '13 at 9:22
Yes, LaTeX output is pleasing to the eye ... but LaTeX input is quite a horrid language IMHO :) –  Drux Jan 4 '13 at 9:28
LaTeX makes everything look the same. I've always considered Atiyah and Macdonald's Introduction to Commutative Algebra to be very classy, not just because of the content, and would hate to see it TeXified. (Fulton's Algebraic Curves, on the other hand,...) –  Per Manne Jan 4 '13 at 17:19
Saying all LaTeX documents look the same is like saying all MS Word documents look the same. I'm pretty sure LaTeX allows for a lot of customization but people are typically satisfied with the standards or are too lazy to change them. –  orlandpm Jan 4 '13 at 19:28
@PerManne point taken, but look e.g. here: Uses heavily customized (La)TeX template to achieve look that IMO is not-the-same. Also achieves very high information density, which I tend to like too. –  Drux Jan 5 '13 at 10:12
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