[texhax] MS Word & Mathtype to TeX

cornwall_5 at comcast.net cornwall_5 at comcast.net
Mon Dec 19 21:45:09 CET 2011

I 10000% agree with, sympathize, and understand the needs of the reviewers and editors 

of journals for a universal and stable-over-time program for typesetting math. 

But, my question is: why can't that universal and stable program be MS Word? (+ Design Science's Mathtype) 


Can journals not afford a new version of MS Word once every ten years? 

The IDEAL way would be to ask Microsoft not to change their product ever. 

And for Microsoft to comply. 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Barbara Beeton" <bnb at ams.org> 
To: "cornwall 5" <cornwall_5 at comcast.net> 
Cc: "John C Frain" <frainj at gmail.com>, "TeXhax" <texhax at tug.org>, "William Adams" <will.adams at frycomm.com> 
Sent: Monday, December 19, 2011 9:25:01 AM 
Subject: Re: [texhax] MS Word & Mathtype to TeX 

let me try to explain why peer-reviewed 
journals request (at least some of them 
don't *require*) tex. 

you want to try to live in a low-impact, 
self-sufficient world, with, ideally, low 
cost to accompany your reduced footprint. 

most math journals these days cannot afford 
the cost of skilled professional composition. 
the route they have chosen to avoid this is 
to ask authors to use a tool created by a 
competent mathematician/computer scientist to 
produce his own works to the standard of quality 
he expected from traditional composition. 
(after all, an author knows more about his/her 
subject than the best compositor.) 

in order to reduce costs further, to keep 
subscription prices affordable (and here, i 
can speak only for journals published by 
professional societies, academic institutions, 
and other not-for-profit organizations), and 
to make possible publication in electronic form 
in parallel with the printed copy, publishers 
require a uniform, predictable, and reliable 
input source.  latex has proven itself to be 
such a stable format. 

at the american mathematical society, submissions 
are peer-reviewed before they come to the office 
for production.  what the reviewers and subject 
editors accept for publication, we at the office 
have to deal with.  if an author is unable to 
produce a file in the "normalized" form required 
for production, then it will be modified by a 
skilled keyboarder (someone on our own staff, if 
available, but sometimes "contracted out"), or, 
in the worst case, rekeyboarded.  this is very 
much more expensive than handling a file created 
by an author knowledgeable in latex who has read 
and adhered to the guidelines.  with some extra 
effort by the author, everyone benefits in the 
end because of lowered costs and, perhaps more 
importantly, the decreased likelihood of 
introduced errors. 

so this is not meant as a conspiracy against 
microsoft or any other commercial software 
purveyor.  the fact is, a math book carefully 
prepared in latex is "stable".  the original 
files can be pulled out of an archive ten or 
twenty years later, updated with new content, 
and reprocessed with minimal attention to 
whether the software will produce the same 
results.  similarly for articles repackaged 
into collections -- reprocessing through this 
reliable software produces vastly better (and 
more compact) results than digital scans of the 
originals, which is the other popular method. 

no one will try to persuade you that latex is 
something that can be learned in a couple of 
days.  it *does* require attention and effort. 
but there are many who argue that it *is* 
worth the effort. 
                                                -- bb 
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