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

Adam Goldstein adam.goldstein at jhu.edu
Wed Nov 29 15:26:37 EST 2006

Alain Schremmer wrote:
> Paul Vickers wrote:
>> Not sure 'acceptable' and 'ugly as hell' fit together.... I just  
>> assessed a PhD thesis which had lots of fairly simple maths in it --  
>> mostly set theory type stuff, very few subscripts, no fractions,  
>> integrals, roots etc. Because the thesis was prepared in Word the  
>> maths was, as you say, ugly as hell; however, to my eyes that makes  
>> it unacceptable as it's actually very hard to read. It's a BIT LIKE  
> Yes, and let's not accept, say, what the next Grothendieck/Perelman 
> write because she doesn't want to take away any time from her 
> mathematical work to learn the beautiful LaTeX. Hey, if she wants me 
> to read her, she better accomodate my eyes and kiss my feet too.
> I think that this kind of attitude is truly sad.
Sure, if someone is a genius, we will have to accommodate that person. I 
don't see using TeX or thinking about presentation as a matter of making 
something beautiful, although that may be the result. I see it as a way 
of making something more readable, as Paul suggests. Especially when 
someone has many, many papers to read, it is best if they are written 
for readability and clarity.

Formatting problems caused by Word can cause unreadability and 
contribute to misunderstanding, if only by causing someone to think that 
something is missing. For instance, Word is often not able to put 
footnotes in, leaving a gigantic space at the bottom of the page. Or 
else headings change format as you write because of difficulties setting 
up the styles. Or else, again as Paul points out, inline math or symbols 
come out wrong because it is hard to specify the limits of italics in 
subscripts and so on.

I'd rather have someone struggle and think about the ideas I am writing, 
rather than have to exert extra energy just trying to read my paper.


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