[OS X TeX] Macintouch report on TeX versus Word

David Derbes loki at uchicago.edu
Mon Jan 19 18:28:58 EST 2009

My experience is a little different, but it may be worth reporting.

I have transcribed two books (Freeman Dyson's "Advanced Quantum  
Mechanics" and Lillian Lieber's "The Einstein Theory of Relativity").  
The first was, after I posted it to the arXiv, picked up by World  
Scientific. They are used to LaTeX and had no trouble at all making  
such adaptations as they wished to my LaTeX source. The second was  
going to be reset laboriously into Quark. The guy that was going to do  
it wanted USD 8 a page, which would have been ruinously expensive to  
the publishers. I volunteered to do whatever they wanted. It was a  
little time consuming but not really terrible (had to put proof marks  
in and learn how to do that; had to change the font for pagination,  
and so on.)

I think that the publishers of the world (whether or not they do  
mathematics) would save themselves a lot of time, money and grief were  
they to set a few of their team to learn LaTeX. I was told by my main  
liaison at the Lieber publishers that most typesetters he was familiar  
with were "terrified" of LaTeX. I find this astounding.

God only knows what time and money have been wasted by people  
wrestling with the capricious behavior of various releases of Word.

David Derbes
U of Chicago Laboratory Schools

On Jan 19, 2009, at 5:02 PM, David B. Thompson, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE,  
CFM wrote:

> On Jan 19, 2009, at 09:55, Alain Schremmer wrote:
>> 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"?
> Interesting point, but I'd like to point out that my research team  
> abandoned Word because it was a lot more trouble when working with  
> multiple authors. I can't tell you how many hours I spent trying to  
> figure out why Word would choose to reformat a segment of the  
> report, seemingly arbitrarily, when I pasted in some text. Then I  
> had all kinds of issues with floats.
> There were so many hours spent in frustration, when my personal  
> documents, all prepared using LaTeX, just seemed to "work." One of  
> my colleagues was familiar with LaTeX from his graduate-school days.  
> Another takes to anything computing like a duck to water. The other  
> two just give me Word source and I paste the text and set the  
> equations. Setting equations is laborious, but my frustration level  
> is much lower.
> Our experience was the opposite, but that may have more to do with  
> the professionals involved and that we do our own work without a  
> publishing staff. My experience might be a lot different if I was  
> using an in-house publishing unit. (Although, I have to admit that  
> one of our professionals has an in-house publishing unit and still  
> prefers to roll his own! ;)
> OK, but to my rock...
> -=d
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