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 Post subject: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 6:26 pm 
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I figure this is as good a place as any:

I'm going to be starting my Masters in Comp Eng soon, which means a lot of writing. So I am wondering what does LaTeX offer that MS Word doesn't (2007)?

I've used both, and it seems to me that both offer the core tools I would need: a bibliography, citing references within the document, automated table of contents, etc. It also seems that LaTeX's increased flexibility would be offset by the greater learning curve associated with it, which would place it in the hobby realm for me. Also MS Word offers grammar checking, which I have not seen in a LaTex editor.

So, am I missing something, or has MS incorporated the main advantages that LaTeX has into their product?


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 6:59 pm 
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mag wrote:
So, am I missing something, or has MS incorporated the main advantages that LaTeX has into their product?

Although I haven't done much writing using LaTeX (I'll use Tex to refer to the family of Tex products), I suspect that if you're going to be required to write math heavy papers, or if you plan on pursuing a line of research or work that requires mathematical writing then Tex is probably worth learning.

It seems like every valid opportunity that I get to use/learn Tex ends up being cut short. That is one of the things on my todo list that is driving me crazy because all of the professors that I've worked with (2) and most of their students (> 50%) are fairly proficient with Tex.

It'll be interesting to see if Jipstyle has something to contribute given his tech writing experience.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:10 am 
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Word has gotten a lot better at handling math equations etc. I never needed anything beyond what Word provided during my Comp Sci & Engineering degree program. That doesn't mean I couldn't have used it. Might not have been bad to learn. However I don't see that I would ever need it now that I am not in school.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:59 am 
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Gadget wrote:
It'll be interesting to see if Jipstyle has something to contribute given his tech writing experience.


I don't, actually, because I'm never used a Tex product outside of school.

None of my professional writing (so far) has required the use of Tex ... just Word, FrameMaker (ugh), Flare and related products for document creation and Document!X for source-code level docs.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:13 am 
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CrashTECH wrote:
Word has gotten a lot better at handling math equations etc. I never needed anything beyond what Word provided during my Comp Sci & Engineering degree program. That doesn't mean I couldn't have used it. Might not have been bad to learn. However I don't see that I would ever need it now that I am not in school.

I don't actually have Word on any of my computers; I've been using Google Docs fairly exclusively the past couple of years and had quite a few issues with mathematical equations. Are you sure that Word is up to the task?


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:16 am 
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Gadget wrote:
CrashTECH wrote:
Word has gotten a lot better at handling math equations etc. I never needed anything beyond what Word provided during my Comp Sci & Engineering degree program. That doesn't mean I couldn't have used it. Might not have been bad to learn. However I don't see that I would ever need it now that I am not in school.

I don't actually have Word on any of my computers; I've been using Google Docs fairly exclusively the past couple of years and had quite a few issues with mathematical equations. Are you sure that Word is up to the task?

Word has a pretty good equation editor. It has all the standard functions and symbols (cos, sin, summation, integration, etc.). It does have some quirks that I don't like (automatic formatting when I don't want it to, which probably won't come up much; and getting equation numbering to appear where I want it to in the page), but they aren't major.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:40 pm 
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i just got office 2010 and havent tried any lab reports but by experience with office 2k7 was that

1) I became much faster at typing the markup languange than navigating contextual menus for Word
2)At some points it would crash alot, during each equation entering.
3)The controllability of how you want the page to look was much more direct. Tex has ways of explicitly defining alignment and formatting for figures(table,graphics,etc) or letting it do it as best fit

At some point during my 2nd electronics lab course where i was tired of the 15 page long reports due every week i just took about 5-6 hours one saturday evening/sun morning and went to a big TeX wiki and typed up a report. Once u get the header information down once u can just copy it over again for new reports. There are a bunch of different little customizations you can find for TeX. It pays dividends in my opinion. It seems to be a standard among our faculty and grad students. Certainly the longer the paper the more i favor it over Word. 1000 word essays for bs classes still get Word.

I write my files in Notepad++ and compile via command prompt. There is a TexWorks IDE type thing that is supposed to be decent. Here is the resource i use: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX

In summation: slight learning curve, but awesome payoff. If you can handle basic html you have it in the bag already.
Search around for Latex Cheatsheets or Latex Reference Cards and you can get all the esoteric math symbols printed up to have right in front of you.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:11 pm 
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SanguineumCaelum wrote:
Here is the resource i use: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX


This looks like a great resource. Thanks for sharing it. My biggest problem was figuring out how to do the nitty gritty, but hopefully this resource will help with that.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:18 am 
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Gadget wrote:
CrashTECH wrote:
Word has gotten a lot better at handling math equations etc. I never needed anything beyond what Word provided during my Comp Sci & Engineering degree program. That doesn't mean I couldn't have used it. Might not have been bad to learn. However I don't see that I would ever need it now that I am not in school.

I don't actually have Word on any of my computers; I've been using Google Docs fairly exclusively the past couple of years and had quite a few issues with mathematical equations. Are you sure that Word is up to the task?
Yes. I used Word 2007 the last couple semesters of school. It worked great.

Google docs can NOT compare to Word, or even Open Office (which falls short of Word too) as a word processor. For what it is worth, I don't consider Google Docs (at least the word processor) as anything but a glorified digital notebook paper / task pad.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:20 am 
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Also, for what it is worth, you can template your reports in Word too. It made life easy for me. I have a folder set up that I just copied the whole thing for each report.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:48 am 
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SanguineumCaelum wrote:
3)The controllability of how you want the page to look was much more direct. Tex has ways of explicitly defining alignment and formatting for figures(table,graphics,etc) or letting it do it as best fit

The last one is a bit of a design goal. The TeX community would say there algorithms tend to produce text that is much closer to professional typesetting than the average person can hope to achieve in a WYSIWYG editor.

SanguineumCaelum wrote:
It seems to be a standard among our faculty and grad students. Certainly the longer the paper the more i favor it over Word. 1000 word essays for bs classes still get Word.

Actually, because most meaningful computer science conferences require TeX formatting, it is pretty much the standard at every research university. For example, here are the ACM templates. The dvi file format is also a fairly common output format for with larger, sophisticated computing/mathematical software programs (eg. Maxima). Why bother having to "rewrite" things in another program. It is also the standard for mathematics and physics publications.

I actually downloaded the ProTeXt distribution quite a while ago from the CTAN archive. I just never got around to playing with it much. It basically contains all of the software that you need to get a complete TeX system up and running. Everything is installed using the instructions in a pdf file.

I'm currently playing with TeXnicCenter, which is a pretty slick program for working with LaTeX. I'll report more on it later.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:52 am 
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mag wrote:
SanguineumCaelum wrote:
Here is the resource i use: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX


This looks like a great resource. Thanks for sharing it. My biggest problem was figuring out how to do the nitty gritty, but hopefully this resource will help with that.

Check out the ProTeXt distro and "Not So Short Guide to LaTeX2e" at http://www.ctain.org -- they've done all of the work for you. TeXnicCenter is a kind of IDE for LaTeX. You create a project. You can compile and view, etc. Very IDE like program.

At some point, I might bother with trying to get UltraTex working in Emacs. I kind of miss having macros handy... although it is only a cut/paste away.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:15 am 
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CrashTECH wrote:
Gadget wrote:
CrashTECH wrote:
Word has gotten a lot better at handling math equations etc. I never needed anything beyond what Word provided during my Comp Sci & Engineering degree program. That doesn't mean I couldn't have used it. Might not have been bad to learn. However I don't see that I would ever need it now that I am not in school.

I don't actually have Word on any of my computers; I've been using Google Docs fairly exclusively the past couple of years and had quite a few issues with mathematical equations. Are you sure that Word is up to the task?
Yes. I used Word 2007 the last couple semesters of school. It worked great.

Google docs can NOT compare to Word, or even Open Office (which falls short of Word too) as a word processor. For what it is worth, I don't consider Google Docs (at least the word processor) as anything but a glorified digital notebook paper / task pad.

Sure... Word has far more features than Google docs. Frankly, it does way too much crap for me to care to use it. I just need a "glorified" notepad.

I'm curious to see how well Word is able to reproduce some of the equations in the Theoretical Computer Science Cheat Sheet. I've picked out a few that I think are pretty representative of the most commonly used symbols and notation in CS papers. Don't bother with the tables... I'm sure that Word does them just fine (or at least I would hope that is the case).

On the left side of page 1:
1) The third definition -- theta. Both sides.
2) The fifth definition -- the limit of An as n goes to infinity (and beyond!)
3) The n and k combination, Eulerian and 2nd order Eulerian. Just the n, k and symbols on the left side.
4) Equation #2 looks pretty typical.

Of course, you'll have to attach a pdf file. =)


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:05 am 
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The upload attachment didn't work for (said it can't upload .pdf's), so here is a link to it.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:06 am 
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I had Word 2k7 crash on those exact equations


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:57 pm 
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mag wrote:
The upload attachment didn't work for (said it can't upload .pdf's), so here is a link to it.

That's not too shabby Mag. I've done the same equations in plain jane LaTeX using TeXnicCenter (swapping the order of the last two parts though). I also attempted to upload the pdf and a tiff version of the output. For some reason, the forum doesn't like either one of the files. =\

I'm going to try to send a copy of the pdf to you and SanguineumCaelum via a msg. If it works, and anyone else is interested in the output, ping me and I'll send you a copy.


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:22 am 
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You could use Google Docs like mag did :)


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 Post subject: Re: LaTeX vs MS Word
PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:34 pm 
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CrashTECH wrote:
You could use Google Docs like mag did :)

IMHO having to resort to a 3rd party is lame. I can't think of any good reasons why we shouldn't be able to post a pdf file on the board. The tex file was only 1K; The pdf was arguably a bit over-weight at 65K though.

Here is the actual content...
Code:
%usepackage{amsmath}
\documentclass{article}
\begin{document}

\begin{equation}f(n)=\Theta(g(n)) \iff f(n)=O(g(n))\ and\ f(n)=\Omega(g(n)).\end{equation}

\begin{equation}\lim_{n \to \infty} a_n=a \iff\ \forall \epsilon>0,\exists n_0\ such\ that\
\left|a_n-a\right|<\epsilon,\forall n \geq n_0.\end{equation}

\begin{equation}\sum_{k=0}^n \left(_k^n\right)=2^n.\end{equation}

\begin{equation}
\left(_k^n\right)\
\left[_k^n\right]\
\left\{_k^n\right\}\
\left\langle _k^n \right\rangle\
\left\langle \left\langle _k^n \right\rangle \right\rangle
\end{equation}

\end{document}


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