[OS X TeX] Getting students to use LaTeX (and apa.cls)

Jens Noeckel noeckel at uoregon.edu
Fri Aug 18 12:05:58 EDT 2006

On Aug 18, 2006, at 4:23 AM, Simon Spiegel wrote:

> On 18.08.2006, at 12:10, @ Rocteur CC wrote:
>> On 17 Aug 2006, at 18:30, Niels Kobschaetzki wrote:
>>> On 8/17/06, Michael Kubovy <kubovy at virginia.edu> wrote:
>>>> Dear MacOSXTeXans,
>>>> On Aug 17, 2006, at 1:10 AM, John Vokey wrote:
>>>> > As Michael noted, there is apa.cls, but it needs apacite.bst or
>>>> > apacitex.bst to produce apa-like references (either can be used
>>>> > independently of apa.cls, although I recommend the combo: if you
>>>> > use apa.cls, you do not have to call apacite with
>>>> > \bibliogreaphystyle{}, as it does that for you).  apa.cls  
>>>> produces
>>>> > virtually perfect APA documents in three modes: `jou': reproduces
>>>> > the journal output in amazing JEP:X fidelity, `doc' produces your
>>>> > document in a single-column format more useful for  
>>>> distributing to
>>>> > colleagues and co-authors for commenting and editing, and `man'
>>>> > format faithfully (well, better than anything else that I have
>>>> > seen) reproduces every flipping stupid APA rule you can imagine,
>>>> > and many you probably didn't even know for journal submission.
>>>> > apacite sometimes, but rarely, requires some tweaking to get
>>>> > obscure referencing types to type-set correctly, but these are  
>>>> all
>>>> > well-documented in the manual.  I have a template for apa.cls  
>>>> that
>>>> > sets out much of the format for you (read, you probably won't  
>>>> have
>>>> > to read the manual to use it successfully).  Just drop it in your
>>>> > TeXShop templates folder.  Write me if you are interested.  I  
>>>> don't
>>>> > let my students use anything else (and, in the bargain, they  
>>>> don't
>>>> > have to learn APA format: LaTeX takes care of that for them,  
>>>> as it
>>>> > should).
>>>> I concur with John's assessment of apa.cls.
>>>> Your write "I don't let my students use anything else". Do you  
>>>> impose
>>>> this on students working in your lab, or students in a course?  
>>>> If the
>>>> latter, are these grad students? How do you persuade them to do
>>>> what's best for them and abandon the deeply ingrained MSW habit?
>>>> It might be useful for people on the list to see your template.  
>>>> I for
>>>> one would.
>>> I would be more interested how I could convince my not so tech-savvy
>>> lecturers that using LaTeX is a good thing and that some of their  
>>> guidelines
>>> for papers don't work well with LaTeX...
>>> Niels
>> I believe the big POINT for anyone, not just non tech-savvy people  
>> is the NON WYSIWYG phobia.
> This and the fact that many people simply don't know that there are  
> alternatives to Word. IME for many people writing texts equals MS  
> Word, and they're often astonished to hear that there other and  
> maybe even better ways to achieve what they want.
> It probably depends on the document you write, but IME it's pretty  
> easy to convert someone to LaTeX once he got frustrated enough with  
> Word. I've done it with several people (one of them not all tech- 
> savy) who were in different stages of their theses (is that the  
> correct plural form)? Changing to LaTeX was pretty painless and  
> none of the regretted it.
> simon


I've also been interested in this topic for a while, and wanted to  
add one more point: once people start using Word for serious work, it  
gets increasingly hard to make them switch because Word simply  
doesn't export to any other format that preserves all the content  
(including math formulas and graphics). This means porting your  
magnum opus back to LaTeX is a huge investment of time and effort  
once you've typed it in Word. Although it is clear to most people  
that writing is a fundamental activity which shouldn't cost money,  
inertia keeps them in the Word environment until the cost and upgrade  
hassles of Word start to become more painful than the hassles of  

So you either have to get people to use non-Word editors really early  
on (I'm talking High School), or come up with an easy way to do the  
switch. There was a thread here in December,

Regarding WordML2LaTeX, and I wonder if anyone has made progress with  
that. I would strongly hope that XML output from Word eventually  
opens the road to complete conversion to LaTeX (and many other  
currently unsupported formats). Does wordML output with Word for  
Windows preserve things like math in an xml tree? Math and graphics  
are lost if one converts doc to wordml on the Mac using textutil. I  
think the topic of faithful "converters" is very important when  
trying to talk students into using LaTeX.


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