[texhax] MS Word & Mathtype to TeX

Michael Barr barr at math.mcgill.ca
Tue Dec 20 01:51:29 CET 2011

I am pleased to see that the discussion has quieted down.  I would like to 
add my 2¢.  Anyone who really thinks that MS Word + Mathtype could 
duplicated the capabilities of tex, should look at page 111 (or almost any 
other page) of http://www.tac.mta.ca/tac/reprints/articles/12/tr12.pdf. 
These diagrams were not done in native tex, but using an add-on called 
xy-pic (and a front end to xy-pic called diagxy, but it could have been in 
native xy-pic).  I don't use Word, never have, probably never will.  But 
my wife does.  She is a more or less retired translator.  She was offered 
a job last summer that she had to turn down because the files were in a 
format called docx and her version of Word, just a few years old, cannot 
read docx and certainly cannot write them.  She uses Word because her 
clients use nothing else, but nothing I have seen suggests that you can 
get anything like the same quality as tex delivers.  And tex doesn't ask 
you to spend several hundred dollars on upgrade every few years.

The link above is to a book published in 1984 using a beta version of 
latex and took almost no work to get it to compose.  I have plain tex 
files from the 80s.  To run them today, I need only add 
\documentclass{...} and \begin...\end document.  Plus make some changes in 
how fonts are specified.  I've done this and it is the work of a few 
minutes.  Files from the early 90s require no change.  Imagine trying to 
use a Word file from the 80s.  Unthinkable.  And files written in Word 
today will surely not be usable in 25 years.

I am also the tex editor for an online journal.  Although we prefer it 
when the authors use our class file, it is usually not more than a few 
minutes work to convert it, if they haven't.  If we were using Word, not 
only would I have to keep multiple versions on my machine, I would have to 
upgrade every few years to keep up with authors who have the latest 
version.  It would be a nightmare.

Michael Barr
Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little
security will deserve neither and lose both.

            Benjamin Franklin

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