[OS X TeX] TeX and the wild wild world out there

Peter Lichtner lichtner at lanl.gov
Wed Nov 29 13:28:49 EST 2006

Hyphenation is much better with LaTeX too---MSW leaves huge gaps  
between words. Probably why some organizations require ragged right  
docs. LaTeX gives a professionally looking document that can't be beat.

On Nov 29, 2006, at 09:47, Adam Goldstein wrote:

> Bruno Voisin wrote:
>> An observation: I've been taking part in scientific conferences  
>> for some time now:
>> - About 15 years ago, instructions for authors were provided  
>> (paper size, margins, presentation of title, of name and  
>> affiliation, and so forth), and that was it.
>> - About 10 years ago, a LaTeX style was provided, implementing the  
>> instructions.
>> - About 5 years ago, both instructions and a LaTeX style were  
>> provided, and in addition a Word template was also provided,  
>> implementing more-or-less (generally partially) what was already  
>> present in the LaTeX style, for those authors more accustomed to  
>> Word.
>> - This year, for the first time I'm seeing a conference <http:// 
>> www2.sese.uwa.edu.au/issf2006/papers/paper_submissions.html> in  
>> which the instructions are implemented as a carefully crafted Word  
>> style, with detailed instructions of use. A LaTeX style is also  
>> provided, for those authors more accustomed to LaTeX, but this  
>> style implements only partially the instructions for authors and,  
>> for those it implements, is largely erroneous.
>> Thus, within a decade, it seems TeX has turned from a de-facto  
>> standard into an afterthought. This reminded me of the discussion  
>> we had some time ago here, about Word being considered more and  
>> more as good enough even for academic mathematical prose.
>> (The above is in no case meant as a criticism of the organizers of  
>> the conference: I know from experience what a frantic job the  
>> organization of a conference is, and it's already kind of a  
>> miracle when one finds the time to prepare a template for the  
>> authors, whatever software that is for.)
>> I'm not sure that anything can be done about that state of things,  
>> but I thought people might be interested by the observation.
>> Bruno Voisin
> A few observations--
> -Some people seem resistant to open source software. They seem to  
> feel assured that Microsoft is taking care of them in some way, and  
> that using "unsupported" software entails some risk. I have  
> observed this among scientists and also historians. Biologists seem  
> to be much more committed to Word, physicists and mathematicians to  
> TeX. I suppose it is the use of mathematics that makes the  
> difference, and probably history. I don't quite understand, though,  
> because biology has lots of math too!
> -I wonder if the move to Word will eventually prove more  
> problematic than useful? I have struggled to exchange files using  
> word. *Something* always changes. This is a problem when receiving  
> work from students, in particular. It has also happened to me on  
> more than one occasion that my document has reverted to a past  
> draft when emailed because I used a "fast save" option in Word.  
> This was very upsetting because I got back page proofs that had  
> parts of an old draft and parts of a new one. I wonder how  
> organizers of large conferences and journals cope with this.
> -The NSF (US government) accepts uploads in various formats;  
> apparently it automatically re-formats the text into a standard  
> style no matter what format you use. PDF is accepted, and so is  
> LaTeX source, and Word.
> -Regarding ease of use, I have never found Word particularly easy  
> to use. As soon as you want to change something that is set  
> automatically by Word, there is an endless hunt among the menus and  
> dialogs to identify the right setting. Usually the help files only  
> point out what's obvious. I usually just end up compromising and  
> accepting something close to what I want.
> -I try to educate my students about the use of Word as a  
> typesetting tool, suggesting that they change margins and other  
> settings to produce more professional-looking term papers. They are  
> quite pleased with their papers, and also begin to experiment and  
> learn more about font choices and layout.
> -I wonder if conference organizers do not have the support of a  
> computer services department that understands TeX and how to use  
> it? Journals should have excuse for this, as publishing is their  
> business.
> -Adam
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