[OS X TeX] Macintouch report on TeX versus Word

Alain Schremmer schremmer.alain at gmail.com
Mon Jan 19 19:18:53 EST 2009

On Jan 19, 2009, at 6:02 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.

I have had no experience of that sort. I mean, I have never had to  
share a Word document with anyone. But, all by myself I had the  
experience of Word reformatting a whole part of a "long document"  
just because I had pasted a piece I had written in the previous  
version of Word. And then of course, it wrecked another part of the  
"long ddocument" beyond salvation on another occasion. Etc But the  
last version of Word I used was the 2001 edition.
> There were so many hours spent in frustration, when my personal  
> documents, all prepared using LaTeX, just seemed to "work."

The key, though, is that once a LaTeX document works, it continues to  
work.  But the problem is usually to get it to work particularly if  
you don't have the programming "mindset".

> 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.

None of which has anything to do with the fact that "LaTeX is {still}  
not for the faint of heart" which, I think, there is no reason that  
it couldn't be. This is of course not a criticism of all the people  
who brought LaTeX to where it is. They did what they wanted to do and  
I am grateful for what they did. But the framework in which they  
developed LaTeX as a whole intrinsically guarantees the current  

No big system, be it a railroad, an airline, etc can result from just  
the aggregation of individual efforts.

Anarchist regards

More information about the MacOSX-TeX mailing list