[OS X TeX] latex2rtf: A developer's perspective

Adrian Heathcote adrian.heathcote at philosophy.usyd.edu.au
Wed Apr 21 22:06:14 EDT 2004


since you're on the list, I just wanted to say thanks for the 
improvements over the last few years in rtf2latex2e---which I have to 
use quite a lot at the moment. Now an emdash gets converted to --- as 
it should and smartquotes get converted properly. I spend less and less 
time doing find all/replace operations than I used to!

The only thing I'd like is an option to suppress the conversion of 
ordinary paragraph tabs to \tab. In the cases I'm using it isn't 
necessary, because a new para will give me that automatically. But this 
is a low priority request, since change all takes care of it, usually 
pretty smoothly.

Thanks again for the great work


On 22/04/2004, at 4:25 AM, Scott Prahl wrote:

> I keep an eye of this mailing list primarily to make sure that I can
> help people who are having problems with latex2rtf or rtf2latex2e.
> As everyone realizes, the issue of living in a world dominated by
> Microsoft Word makes these types of conversions mandatory from time
> to time.
> The first thing that you must accept when converting from latex to
> RTF is that the document will not be as nice as the latex document.
> RTF is a limited mark-up language and Word has some pretty horrible
> typesetting limitations.  If you wanted fidelity, you would have
> opted to convert to PDF in the first place, right?
> Now, not infrequently on this list, someone writes that latex2rtf
> worked horribly.  Most recently, this occurs because I changed
> latex2rtf output so that it could be opened with TextEdit.  
> Unfortunately
> TextEdit does a poor job rendering anything but the simplest RTF
> files, and someone who double clicks on an RTF file will view the
> file with TextEdit.
> People's poor perception of latex2rtf may be based on having tested
> an old version.  More recent versions suck much less than the old
> versions.  The current version is 1.9.15 and can be downloaded at
> http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/latex2rtf/latex2rtf-1.9.15.tar.gz
> The advantages and disadvantages of latex2rtf stem from the level at
> which conversions are performed.  The latex command \section gets
> mapped directly into a series of rtf commands in latex2rtf.  The proper
> style sheet is used which can then be tweaked in Word.  Similarly,
> bibliographic references (e.g. \label) refer get bookmark fields
> inserted into the RTF so that the converted document can use Word's
> cross-referencing features.  Finally, equations are converted to
> Word fields and can be edited within Word.
> One disadvantage to this process is obvious when tables
> are translated.  Since there is not table command in RTF the high
> level conversion does not work so nicely.  For example,
> \begin{tabular}{c|c}
> \multicolumn{2}{c}{example}\\
> A & B \\
> \hline
> C & D
> \end{tabular}
> is translated into a table with the proper lines and entries in Word, 
> but
> has two columns that span the entire width of the page.  These can be
> resized in Word but it is a nuisance.  The problem is that latex2rtf
> has no way to measure the size of each table cell and then 
> automatically
> adjust the table as TeX can.  Perhaps the next version of latex2rtf
> will have some better heuristics to figure out column size.
> Another disadvantage of trying to convert high level latex commands
> is when someone (or some package) tries to change low level latex
> or tex commands.  Something like TeX4ht is perfectly suited for this
> since it works at a very low level and can handle redefinitions quite
> well.  On the other hand, if you want editable equations in Word,
> then the latex -> html -> word process will only leave you with
> images of your equations.
> Now for some specifics.  Thomas Schröder provided his test document
> and said that latex2rtf failed.  The conversion was OK except that (1)
> \fbox has a bug and the figure was lost and (2) \centering doesn't
> work properly.
> I mention this not to defend latex2rtf so much as to point out that
> without his simple test document, I would never have known about the
> \fbox bug (since I do not use that particular latex command).  I would
> also not have known that I need to revisit the handling of \centering
> in a figure environment.  latex2rtf is open source and will only get
> better through feedback like this --- nice simple examples showing the
> problems.
> Finally, Thomas Schröder wrote
>> If I still have to adjust a few things manually than that's OK, and I
>> can also live with having to replace all of the images with better
>> quality ones. But all the other things like table of contents,
>> references, bibliography, footnotes, math, greek symbols, German
>> language, figures, tables, tabulars, index, nomenclature should work
>> automatically because if they don't than I guess I'd be faster doing
>> it by hand.
> For what it is worth, everything above works with the except of the
> table of contents, index and (the nomenclature package?).  Image 
> translation
> is as good a you want by selecting the DPI in the converted image.  If
> you want to insert EPS file into an RTF document, then please, please
> show me how!  FWIW, I am working on producing table of contents in
> the translated document.
> Enough!  Sorry about the long rant.
> Scott Prahl
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