[OS X TeX] Macintouch report on TeX versus Word

Warren Nagourney warren at phys.washington.edu
Mon Jan 19 14:42:58 EST 2009

I don't understand why NASA couldn't have provided latex macros and  
style files for its publications. There are numerous ones out there  
which could have been used with little modification. It shouldn't  
have needed more than the part-time labor of one person to support  
this. I am currently writing a book for Oxford University Press and  
they supply a package for latex users and all scientific journals of  
note do the same.

I despise Word with a passion due to its (unnecessary, in my opinion)  
complexity, its proprietary nature and the fact that it is *not*  
WYSIWIG, despite claims to the contrary. I wasted many hours in the  
distant past fighting with this latter problem. TeX has a steep  
learning curve but Latex has a much milder one and isn't that hard to  
use with some good style packages. Excellent latex software is  
available on every package for free (The best is probably on the  
defunct NeXTstep machines - I keep a couple of these around for  
things like this).


Warren Nagourney

On Jan 19, 2009, at 9:55 AM, Alain Schremmer wrote:

> On Jan 19, 2009, at 11:54 AM, Michael Sharpe wrote:
>> There was a reader report on Macintouch last Saturday:
>> http://www.macintouch.com/readerreports/iwork09/index.html#d17jan2009
>> Briefly, it was claimed that 95% at NASA produced tech reports  
>> using Word/MathType, and that many of the less than 5% written in  
>> TeX could not be processed in a timely way because of macro  
>> problems. I would guess that the real problem was that NASA was  
>> not providing proper guidelines for TeX use, and most likely  
>> lacked TeXpertize in their Technical Publications office.
> The question, though, is how much "guidelining" NASA needed to  
> provide to those who used Word.MathType. My guess is, a lot less,  
> if any. So, why indeed should they bother with "TeXpertize in their  
> Technical Publications office"?
> In other words, there is something very wrong in the LaTeX world as  
> it is. Yes, it does superior typesetting and that is the thing for  
> those of us who can recognize and love beautiful typesetting. But  
> most of "the rest of us", myself included, do not have the eye to  
> distinguish, say, Times from CM or Latin or whatever looks like it;  
> we just need something non-obstructive to write with. (And yes, one  
> of the two reasons I jettisoned MSWord was that it was obstructive— 
> if in a very different way. The other was that it was proprietary.)
> Indeed, the macro problem does point at a real issue. TeXLive seems  
> to have seriously diminished the installation problem and  
> TeXLIveUtility the maintenance problem. But there remains the  
> "LaTeX is not for the faint of heart" issue.
> There is a real need for the kind of rethinking of LaTeX that I  
> think Voisin was advocating.
> Else, it soon won't be 95% but 99.99% and going.
> How is LyX doing?
> Regards
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