LaTeX, MS Word, asking questions, LyX (was Re: [OS X TeX] 1/2" margins)

Simon Spiegel simon at
Thu Oct 12 21:36:28 CEST 2006

On 12.10.2006, at 21:12, Alain Schremmer wrote:

> I am not sure that answering two posts at once is the proper thing  
> to do but my intentions are pure: They overlap and I don't want to  
> glut the list.
> Spiegel wrote
>    It's a big misconception that Word is easy learn […]
> Ivrii wrote:
> Unfortunately it is not completely true.
> I agree with both: most people—of whom I was—hardly use more than,  
> say, 10% of the capabilities of MS Word. That 10% is the easy part.  
> And it is when you start trying to beyond that the woes start.
> So then, again, why not a "LaTeX light"—and I mean a markup one as  
> there is no obvious incompatibility?

Being a WYSIYG guy at heart who only turned to LaTeX because Adobe  
stopped the development of Framemaker, I say: Go for it. Go and  
create "LaTeX light", I'm sure no one will oppose it. But then again,  
look at a typical Word user and how he uses his app and you'll  
realize that there is a fundamental problem. IMO word processor  
should all be about styles, in other words: about structured writing.  
You either have a TextEdit approach with add hoc formatting, or a  
structured approach or a DTP approach. The problem is that Word is  
confusing all three and makes it appear to the uneducated user that  
you should actually use the add hoc approach (all my statements are  
based on the current version of Word, I heard big changes are coming  
with Word 2007). Word wants you to think that you can just start and  
type away without thinking about structure or formatting in advance.  
As soon as you use a more rigid approach and put styles into the  
center, it gets more complicated as you can easily observe when you  
use apps like Framemaker or Mellel (both are great apps, but people  
used to Word will have problems at the beginning). What I want to say  
is this: IMO the two main obstacles in learning LaTeX (for a Word user 
( are probably the fact that it is markup based and highly  
structured, but both are, at the same they are its big strengths, get  
rid of them and you lose what makes LaTeX interesting. No one needs a  
markup based TextEdit.


Simon Spiegel
Steinhaldenstr. 50
8002 Zürich

Telephon: ++41 44 451 5334
Mobophon: ++41 76 459 60 39

"In a world getting more and more democratic, film directing is the last
resort for dictators." Francis Ford Coppola

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