[texhax] TeX to (editable) Word?

Jay Hammond homemade at talktalk.net
Tue Feb 12 13:09:05 CET 2008

On 11 Feb 2008 at 22:24, Ahmed Shehada wrote:

Hi, just a quick answer
p.s. not as quick as I thought! --- long!

> Hi,
>  Just a quick question on the compatibility of TeX. I understand the
> primary
> output of the SW is in PDF or DIV format,

err ...not DIV but DVI ; DVI is specific to TeX, nothing to do with 
digital video interactive (TM) 

> with the possibility of
> getting
> other formats like HTML, RTF, and more. I was also told about other
> tools
> that convert TeX to word docs, however, from what I've seen so far
> I
> wouldn't be able to edit the math formulae in MS Word.

more or less correct.

> I will be preparing some course notes that include many Math
> equations, so I
> wanted to use TeX for it's easy of dealing with equations 

in my view best for equations, and gives nice output, if correctly 

> but at the
> same
> time make the notes available in (editable) MS Word format for my
> colleages
> who would like to review/edit these notes but do not use TeX.

the short answer is that it's not convenient enough for you and your 
colleagues to exchange Word files for TeX processing.  

This is a FAQ - or at least the question is asked repeatedly

see e.g. "microsoft word" in 

Mailing list archives: http://tug.org/pipermail/texhax/

the actual FAQ does not seem to relevantly mention microsoft word 

TeX FAQ: http://www.tex.ac.uk/faq

the TUG website 


has lots of helpful links including 


which tries to state with a similie why MS Word and TeX don't 
interact conveniently.

I'm surprised that there is so little mention of the worlds most 
widely distributed and used wordprocessor family. ( I shrink, 
deliberately, from saying "popular")  I think that it may be because 
any discussion of people's favourite text editing tool is likely to 
produce "flames" - statements with more heat (strength of feeling) 
than light (clarity, enlightenment). 

Positively - what working methods might work for you and your 

They could annotate paper or PDF files if equipped appropriately 
(pencil, Adobe Acrobat) You'd then be merging in the amemdments they 

If colleagues are supplying whole chapters, you could look at whether 
it was convenient to give the publisher final copy in PDF format, 
your parts with equations & TeX,  their parts in Word with no, or 
very few equations.  I foresee that it will be difficult to achieve 
the same book design in the two systems. And that the index and cross 
references  that span chapters will not be automatic.  So there would 
be compromises needed depending on what you want to do.

There may be methods of converting MSWord XML format to open document 
format and from there to TeX, but I suspect that repeatedly 
exchanging documents that have been through multiple conversions on 
each exchange will be inconvenient because the translations may not 
be perfect.  

Machine translation of idioms gives the flavour -- "the spirit is 
willing but the flesh is weak"  as translated into Russian  and back 
out returns as "The whisky is excellent but the meat is rotten" - 
this is alleged to have been from a program called Systran.

I hesitate to suggest it, because it will give  low quality 
typesetting, but if you were working just in Word
you  make each equation into a tiny picture  and wordprocess 
everything else.

TeX could typeset the equations for you and you could extract the 
images - e.g. from an experimental  TeX server  like the one at the 
Open University


whether .png images integrate well into Word, I don't know, and I 
don't know whether you'd get an adequate result for your publisher. 
Ask him or her.

So I'm not optimistic about your finding a convenient way of using 
TeX and Word together.

But perhaps other list users have  positive suggestions?

> Your help is appreciated.
> Ahmed

Jay Hammond
homemade at homemade.free-online.co.uk

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