[OS X TeX] An article about LaTeX and word processors

Herbert Schulz herbs at wideopenwest.com
Thu Feb 2 18:24:13 EST 2017

> On Feb 2, 2017, at 4:56 PM, Alain Schremmer <schremmer.alain at gmail.com> wrote:
> I don't know about being in an elite. (I hope not.)
> BUT:
> 1. It is a bit difficult to tie grammatical errors with software. But even if it were true, what does that prove? That Word does the writing according to the rules and never mind the "author"? Which seems supported by the assertion that "EXPERTS LaTeX users performed even worse that NOVICE Word users" (Emphasis added.) I absolutely detest those paternalistic softwares which "think" they know what I want to do and which I then have to spend a huge amount of time beating down to get them to do what I want.


That article has been around for a long time and has been debunked often (alternate facts). Many beginners are so used to the crap like MS Word produces that they try to do in-line formatting like they do with MS Word instead of letting the document class take care of it for them. I've seen tons of stuff that use lots of \\ to break lines; it all makes me cringe.

> 2. Disclosure: Some fifteen years ago, I lost a big chunk of a Word "long document" and that was the last time I used Word.

I tried to use MS Word for a short while in the mid-1990s after Adobe bought Framemaker and announced that they would  no longer support the Mac; this after it was the Mac got the company on the road to success!. I tried to make a style file that defined indents, etc., the way I liked them but Word would suddenly go back to its defaults; very frustrating.

> 3. The first thing I find amazing about LaTeX is that, whenever I have wanted to do something, I have always discovered a package that just does it. My last discoveries have been tcolorbox, cleveref, spreadtab and calculator. All amazing.

Exactly why I switched to LaTeX after using a personal format I built in the late 80's. PS: I still build that format and can compile all my old files from the 80's and early 90's. try that with MS Word!

> 4. The second thing I find amazing about LaTeX is that, whenever I have not been able to do something (rather often), I have always found very non trivial help: here, where at least half a dozen people may remember, and, interestingly, from the authors of the packages themselves and also, recently from Stackexchange. But then, indeed, I never asked Bill Gates' help back then. Should I have?

We've all received help at times and it's important to then give back.

> 5. What exactly is this "software usability study"? It feels like those studies that definitely prove that the earth is cooling off so that we definitely have to burn more coal and oil to keep it warm. (By the way, you know, it's true: this past night was definitely cooler than yesterday.)
> 6. What exactly are the ties of Knauff and Nejasmic with Microsoft?
> Best, grateful regards
> --schremmer

(La)TeX does have a learning curve and they took folks that had no experience writing papers for publication with TeX and they took all of their bad MS Word habits, which don't work well with (La)TeX, with them.

Good Luck,

Herb Schulz
(herbs at wideopenwest dot com)

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