Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by kdillinger, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. kdillinger

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jul 26, 2009
    I have downloaded MikTex which uses LaTex2e for typesetting. I am comparing the (dis)advantages of typesetting software against that of a word processor such as MS Word.
    I have also downloaded Scientific Word from MacKichan Software which seems to be a hybrid. It uses a similar GUI interface on top of the LaTex typesetting engine.
    Is there anyone who uses typesetting rather than a word processor?
  2. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    I use Word on of my articles on this site, and write LaTeX commands directly into my text accordingly.

    I guess the answer to that is no.
  3. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
    It depends on your needs. If I was working full time in a Unix-like environment and did lots of technical stuff, I'd probably lean towards the TeX-type tools, especially because I'm a command line weenie and like to automate things with make.

    But I tend to have to work on a Windows system (for a variety of reasons). Still, I work in cygwin, so I still could be using the TeX-like tools if I really wanted to. Where I used to work, we were forced to use MS Word for word processing and its math capabilities are atrocious (it's slow and painful to use). After taking an early retirement, I worked for a couple of years in a Linux environment on a contracting job. I started using Open Office Writer for word processing documents and found that it also worked great for writing technical documents with drawings and equations. It's so much more convenient that I standardized on it and still use it. Creating equations is very TeX-like and much faster than in Word. Open Office Writer isn't perfect, but it sure suits my needs. Here's a cheat-sheet I made that sits next to my computer to help me remember the details for making equations.

    OO works well wtih Word files; so much so that after the last wipe the disk and reinstall #$@##!! Windows, I never even bothered installing MS Office. If I can't open and read it in Open Office, I ain't gonna read it. And it's great being off the "it's Microsoft, so you've gotta upgrade every few years" treadmill. The cost is nice: zip, zilch, nada...

    OO also exports all its stuff directly to PDF when you want to. That's nice, as in years past, you had to buy Adobe Distiller or somesuch to do the same with Word.
  4. rspuzio

    Active Member

    Jan 19, 2009
    I use Emacs and TeX for preparing documents. While the learning
    curve may be steeper than for WYSIWYG, my experience has been
    that, once I learned to use these tools, they was a lot more efficient
    and more flexible.
  5. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
    I always preferred typesetting to word processors, but I'm forced to use Word at work. I use TeX rather than LaTeX mostly out of habit. I see little benefit to using word processors now that we have nice GUI interfaces for TeX/LaTeX. The main problem with Word is that you can never get a stable format. If you change operating systems or versions or even change the computer, the formating can change significantly. I have documents from the 1980s that I wrote in TeX and they look exactly the same now when I print them or PDF them. I mean exactly the same, down to the pixel! The other benefit is that TeX/LaTeX is freely available.

    I will say that Word is much better than it used to be. The equation editor is not that bad and can even be used for doing derivations with cut and paste. Perhaps that's one benefit. However, TeX is much more flexible for reformatting equations if you use the programming features.

    A simple rule of thumb I found is that the larger the document, the more advantages you get with typesetting and the more frustrations you will have with Word.