[texhax] MS Word & Mathtype to TeX

John C Frain frainj at gmail.com
Sat Dec 17 00:36:09 CET 2011

First I probably should declare my biases.  I have used word
processors such as Wordstar, Word Perfect, many versions of MS Word,
Chiwriter, OpenOffice and Abiword over the years.  For many years I
have used LaTeX to set technical material (econometric and other
quantitative analysis in economics) for reports and papers.  In the
last 7 years or so I have used Latex for all significant documents and
only use Word to read documents sent to me by persons who do not use

It is clear that corwall_5 does not understand the LaTeX "language"
or indeed how a document containing LaTeX code or markup is used to
produce a final document.  In particular he does not appear to
understand that his LaTeX file must be processed before it produces
readable output.

Like him I have used a converter (The Lates export option) to convert
an MS Word document to LaTeX code.  Such converters try to keep the
structure, formatting etc. from the Word document and convert it to
equivalent LaTeX markup.  Unless the Word document is very well
structured this produces a mass of markup code.  Apart from the sheer
length of code produced it is likely that the code will be difficult
to use and use certain aspects of Latex in a way that one might not
expect.  In any case such translations do not make the best use of the
facilities offered by LaTeX.

Some words of advice for corwall_5.  This is an overview of what I
think.  I have excluded a lot of detail.

First you need to install a good TeX system.  I generally recommend
MiKTeX (http://miktex.org/) or Protext (http://www.tug.org/protext/).
Protext is a re bundling of Miktex and is possibly better for a
beginner.  Both are large packages an will take some time to install.

When I have found it necessary to transfer a document from MS Word
format to TeX or to help a colleague to do so I would recommend that
you -
1) Save the document in plain text format.
2) Add a LaTeX preamble.  My first recommendation would be to obtain
such a preamble from a colleague.  There are minimal preambles in the
literature that has already been recommended.
3) Add section, subsection,  commands,
4) Add your equations in LaTeX format
5) Add any Graphs
6) Edit any list environments.
7) Add your bibliography.

I would recommend that you use an editor designed to work specifically
with LaTeX.  For a beginner I have been recommending TeXmaker
(http://www.xm1math.net/texmaker/).  This editor is relatively easy to
use.  The default set up produces a pdf document from the LaTeX
markup.  The Latex code and pdf output are displayed in two separate
windows.  If you update or amend your latex code and rerun the pdf
generation step then the pdf is updated.  The location in the  pdf
display corresponds  to the location of the cursor in the latex code.
It is also possible to reverse from a location in the pdf file to the
corresponding location in the Latex file.  If cornwell_05 opens his
converted file in this editor he should be able to convert it to pdf
and view it. (He may have to check the manuals to ensure that he is
handling the graphics correctly. It would be interesting to compare
the version produced by the automatic translation and that produced by
the more hands on approach.

May I say that many of us, sincerely, believe that LaTeX produces
excellent output.  We also believe that the extra effort expended in
learning it is worthwhile. nce One becomes at all proficient, work
such as setting and amending equations, inserting graphics etc is much
easier in LaTeX than in a word processor.   In LaTeX one simply
inserts material and leaves it to LaTeX to format the entire document.
 It is extremely hard to get the non-Latex user to understand that a
computer program can produce a well formatted document without
intervention from the writer.

I have started many people on the road to using LaTeX and do think
that the best cours of action would be to ask some one to get you
started.  Otherwise you have been already directed to several good

Finally if you do try to start, have read some of the recommende
literature,  and still run into particular problems you will usually
find some one on the list that is willing to help.

Best Regards


On 16 December 2011 13:37, William Adams <will.adams at frycomm.com> wrote:
> On Dec 15, 2011, at 10:06 PM, cornwall_5 at comcast.net wrote:
>> Not your fault. Not mine. Everyone just happens to have chosen their own favorite
>> software, language, etc, simply because they exist! No one's is better than another.
>> Everyone just picks a favorite.
> And that is your choice, which everyone should respect.
> To add to my suggestions, you might also want to look at:
>  - texmacs --- a WYSIWYG tex environment (there are commercial options as well)
> But as I noted in direct e-mail, LyX is the coolest software in this problem space and I'm sure that w/ a bit of effort you'll be able to configure it to meet your needs and work w/ your existing setup so as to be able to convert your documents at need and review them before submitting them to math journals.
> William
> --
> William Adams
> senior graphic designer
> Fry Communications
> Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.
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John C Frain
Economics Department
Trinity College Dublin
Dublin 2
mailto:frainj at tcd.ie
mailto:frainj at gmail.com

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