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We compare by simulation the performance of two techniques for generating polarization-multiplexed quadrature phase-shift keying with a high spectral efficiency (SE). The first is based on coherent optical orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (CO-OFDM). The second, which we call Nyquist wavelength-division multiplexing (N-WDM), is based on the use of optical pulses having an “almost” rectangular spectrum, with bandwidth ideally equal to the Baud-rate. We show that the two techniques have the same sensitivity and SE under idealized assumptions. However, we found that CO-OFDM requires a much larger receiver bandwidth and proportionally faster speed of the analog-to-digital converters. We also tested CO-OFDM and N-WDM over long-haul nonlinear links and found N-WDM to outperform CO-OFDM in this case, too.