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

R Martinez rm.tech at mac.com
Thu Feb 2 22:54:08 CET 2017


I thought that the readers of this list would have some fun with this article. :-)

As for me, I really enjoy using LaTeX; that part of the article gets it right. I love the polished look of the output and like to treat my writing as a bit of a programming task. Moreover, one can do lots of fancy math typesetting with LaTeX that would be very hard if not impossible to do with MS Word. I suppose that if all one does is type text, then a wysiwig word processor might be appealing. Even so, as a self-taught average typist I like that with LaTeX I don’t have to worry about the spacing between words and sentences. The only thing that causes me some trouble are the floats, which sometimes take some fiddling to get right. But that’s also often the case with wysiwig programs. I use TeXShop as my editor and really like the way it works; I believe it helps my productivity.

I find very hard to believe the conclusion that LaTeX users make more grammatical mistakes than MS Word users. Grammar is a function of the user and has nothing to do with the word processing program. A user who does not know grammar well will make the same mistakes regardless of the word processor used. This conclusion alone is so strange that it causes me to doubt the worth of the entire comparative exercise.

Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve used MS Word many times in the past (I worked for a while in an all-PC office). My experience caused me to learn to avoid MS Word. MSWord is not even on my MacBook Pro; I use Pages for some documents when necessary. At one point in my career, the contract I was working on required me to write a long, complex technical report using MS Word. I rebelled and convinced the sponsor to accept LaTeX, which I used thereafter.    

It would be interesting to hear from the list about your experiences and thoughts on this topic. 


Raul Martinez

Friday, January 27, 2017
 <>LaTeX reduces writing productivity
To assist the research community, we report a software usability study in which 40 researchers across different disciplines prepared scholarly texts with either Microsoft Word or LaTeX. The probe texts included simple continuous text, text with tables and subheadings, and complex text with several mathematical equations. We show that LaTeX users were slower than Word users, wrote less text in the same amount of time, and produced more typesetting, orthographical, grammatical, and formatting errors. On most measures, expert LaTeX users performed even worse than novice Word users. LaTeX users, however, more often report enjoying using their respective software.
--Markus Knauff and Jelica Nejasmic, PLOS ONE, on reasons not to be a word processing snob <http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0115069>. HT: OM

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