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

David Watson dewatson at
Sat Oct 14 21:40:19 CEST 2006

I would agree that the users of LaTeX are for the most part  
specialized users, and Mac users even more so. I fell in love with  
LaTeX after a friend of mine who studied physics introduced it to me.  
I studied chemistry, and although the direct support for typesetting  
of chemistry related documents is not very strong, the ability to  
properly format units in the International System (SIunits), the  
customizability of the koma-script and refman packages, and the  
fairly straightforward process of outputting proper EPSF from  
ChemDraw, gnuplot, and R into plots/chemical structures which can be  
included with proper positioning is what keeps me using LaTeX.

I take care of writing up validation for screening procedures in my  
current occupation, and my supervisor and boss are regularly  
astounded by the quality of the reports. The president of my company  
has written hundreds of papers over the course of the last 30 years,  
so I take this as a complement.

BibDesk has become indispensable for keeping up with my references,  
and the integration that TexShop provides is more than enough for my  
needs. The main reason that I don't use Word is because I have some  
background (from my undergraduate career) with using *nix tools to  
get things done the way I want them. As a concrete example of the  
difference between those "in the club" and those who just don't get  
it, I am regularly asked by a Ph.D. research chemist at my workplace  
on how to format axis labels, make a simple scatterplot, or plot a  
regression in Excel. He can't even be bothered by clicking on the  
Office Assistant dog to find out how to do it himself. Almost every  
time he submits a paper, he gets comments on his poorly formatted  
plots/data visualization. Taking the data and providing him with a  
proper graph in both EPSF and gif formats doesn't cut it for him,  
because he doesn't understand the simple commands/programs that I  
have used, and he wants there to be no question as to "authorship."

No matter how easy it is to learn how to "do it right," some people  
don't have the time to desire to do their own work, even when it  
comes to presenting their research. I can understand the frustration  
with having to spend a little time to find the solution to basic  
problems such as these, but it seems that people are more satisfied  
with a quick fix (like Office), no matter how bad the results.  I  
find it even more disturbing that the publishing houses that he  
normally submits to even have their own LaTeX templates. Arggh! But  
hey, he's being published, and I have only one article under my belt,  
so he must be doing something right!

------------------------- Info --------------------------
Mac-TeX Website:
          & FAQ:
List Archive:

More information about the macostex-archives mailing list