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Notes on MS Word

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MS Word is far from simple program. Actually it can be used (and was used) as a literary programming tool. That tells you something.

The key advantage of the MS Office is the availability of  is its macro language, is the advantage that is still unmatched by rivals. It is common with other MS Office components. Also the level of support of MS Office (books, training materials, add-ons, etc) is far superior to the alternatives. That mean that MS Office including its crown jewel MS Word still makes sense in the open world. But if only if :

The main problem with the Office is that until Office 2007 both MS Word and Excel documents formats were proprietary and generally undocumented. But for all earlier versions you still can export documents in Open formats including RTF and XHTML. The latter needs some postprocessing (see, for example demoroniser), if you want to publish it; raw MS Word xhtml contains just too many Microsoft styles.

Still absence of the internal representation accessibility somewhat limits what you can do in MS Word (and complicate debugging). That's probably the most severe shortcoming of MS Word. and that why I personally often use FrontPage as an alternative to MS Word despite might weaker spellchecker and absence of many vital for word processing capabilities.

The absence of the internal representation view limits what you can do in MS Word and complicates debugging of complex documents

Contrary to the opinion of typical Linux zealots, I am convinced that Microsoft Word was and still is a very good program that was innovative at the time of introduction and positively influenced the field previously dominated by somewhat backward WordPerfect (which, paradoxically, has an access to the view of the internal representation of the document). I would agree that from the point of view of supporting open formats like HTML and XML, MS Word still have room to grow, but I am surprised how Adobe managed to monopolize the field of document viewers despite the fact that MS Word viewers would be clearly adequate (and somewhat superior due to the quality of MS Word as a tool for creating them) tool.

In the past (in the MS DOS environment) MS Word was always underdog to WordPerfect, but despite this second place that most PC magazines assigned to in in 1987-1994 (or may be due to it :-) it was always more innovative word processor than WordPerfect:

BTW it is funny that generally more conservative WordPerfect has "show the source" concept of showing raw source format similar to HTML editors of today and MS Word never had it. because in other areas MS Word was more innovative work processor. If you remember the days of character-based WordPerfect, you will remember the "reveal codes" feature, which shows an editable view of the current file with the internal formatting codes visible. This gave the user more control of the underlying text-processing than MS Word. That why lawyers always prefer WordPerfect and that's why many advanced users (including myself) for simple documents are now using FrontPage instead of MS Word (FrontPage is now part of Office Professional).

Inability of MS Word transparently show its internal format
always was one of the biggest shortcomings of this very powerful program. That was fixed in MS Word 2007 as internal format is now XML

In addition to being rather expensive outside of North America, today's versions of Microsoft Office are huge and try to implement everything possible under the sun. The best original ideas are buried under the bloat of "me too" features. For example how many people use MS Word outlining capabilities, the really innovative feature of MS Word. My guestimate is that less then 1%. If you do not need all the capabilities you can probably use cheaper substitutes. What are the alternatives?

For more alternatives see Slightly skeptical View on Microsoft Office Suit and its Alternatives  but to say frankly they currently suck. Google is trying and might eventually became viable alternative but so far the progress is very slow.  In critical area such as grammar checks, outlining, programmability competition to MS Office is still years behind.

A short list of tips for technical writing using Microsoft Word
by Dr. Richard T. Woodward
Department of Agricultural Economics
Texas A&M University

Microsoft decided to completely overhaul the entire Office Suite with the 2007 version and later. As a result, many of the basic commands have changed.
I will attempt to update it over time, but it may never happen.

If you see something that needs to be fixed, and especially if you know what needs to be changed, please contact me.

Introduction: This document provides some pointers on how you can make Microsoft Word work better for you.  I assume that you already have a pretty good understanding of the use of Word.  This document only covers concepts or techniques that will make the program work better for you. The document was originally developed with Word 97 in mind, and worked pretty well for 2003 version.

How to read this document
Commands in this document are indicated in parentheses. For example, (fOrmat, Font) means that you can access the relevant page of options by using the mouse to indicate the format menu, and then selecting font, or you can press "[alt]-o" followed by an "f" and get to the same place.

Table of contents

  • The importance of saving and backing up

  • Shortcut keys

  • Auto numbering of equations, figures, etc

  • The philosophy of Word

  • Autocorrect

  • Automatic cross-referencing

  • Styles: What are they and why use them

  • Writing macros

  • Inserting linked figures, tables, etc.

  • Using other styles

  • Creating your own dictionary

  • Some neat little tricks

  • Creating a new style

  • Customizing your setup

  • A couple of page numbering issues

  • Formatting on top of a style

  • Some tricks to using the equation editor

  •  

  •  Why this page

    1. Save and backup often
      Before we get started, here's a piece of really good advice, SAVE OFTEN!  You can use autosave, but don't rely on it.  Develop a habit of hitting ([ctrl]s) whenever you pause in your writing.  Also, figure out a way to make a secure back up of your work every day.You can lose up to a day's work because of a computer failure.  If you lose more than a day's work, then that's a human failure -- you didn't back up.
       

    2. The philosophy of Word
      In a Word document, every character, paragraph and section has a collection of characteristics. No matter where you are in your document, you can always see what those characteristics are using the format command for character in which you're in and paragraph (fOrmat, Paragraph) (fOrmat, Font) and the page structure that is active in the section of the document in which you're in with (File, page setUp). You may already know some simple commands that change the formats, [ctrl]b changes the font to bold, [ctrl]2 makes the current paragraph double spaced.
       

    3. Styles: What are they and why use them
      Building on what we've just discussed, you can think about any character and paragraph as having a base set of characteristics and then you can add others to that. For example, the default characteristics might be Times New Roman 12pt, single spaced and not much else.
      An easy way to see the characteristics of a particular piece of text is to press [shift]F1, then click on some text. This will reveal the paragraph and font characteristics that are determined by the style and those that are "direct", or overlayed on top of the style.
      Now suppose you want to change your default (Normal) style from its current setting to Times New Roman 10pt, double spaced. You can do this two ways. The preferred way to do this is to modify the settings of the style (fOrmat, Style, Modify). Once you're at this screen you can then change some of the more advanced settings of the style or go directly to the fOrmat list and click on first the Font option (and change this accordingly) then, after exiting with OK, click on the Paragraph option and modify those preferences. Once this is done your basic style will be adopted accordingly. The principle advantage to doing this is now if you want to increase all your font to 12 point, you need only make one change and all your normal style will be changed.
      There are two main types of styles, font styles and paragraph styles. A paragraph style includes not only the fonts, but the spacing, indentation and other features.
       

    4. Using other styles.
      There are many styles incorporated in Word. Many of these are helpful, particularly the Heading styles which make things like seeing an outline of your work or creating a table of contents (not covered in these notes) a snap. Unfortunately, the default settings for these styles are typically pretty obnoxious so you'll probably want to modify them (see 3 above). Heading formats can be numbered which, for example, I use in the development not only of papers but in writing up problem sets as well. This way if I add a section early in the document, all of my numbering in the rest of the document is automatially updated.  You can also use the Insert Reference command to refer to a section.  This too will automatically be updated as the document is altered.
       

    5. Creating a new style.
      You can do this one of two ways. First you can use the (fOrmat, Style, New) series. Alternatively, you can make a number of changes in the current paragraph and then type a name for the style in the style box (upper left corner of your screen on the formatting toolbar).  For example, I regularly use a paragraph style called equation that sets up all my equations in a standard format.
       

    6. Formatting on top of a style.
      If you're working in a style you can easily adjust the format of the current text.  For example, you could include italices in a normal paragraph. It is often helpful, however, to wipe away all formats on top of a style. If you select a block of text and then push [ctrl][space] you eliminate all font changes down to the style.  If you push [ctrl]q you eliminate all paragraph changes down to the style's basics.
       

    7. Shortcut keys:
      Rather than pulling up the symbols menu (Insert Symbol) every time you need to type a Greek letter or and Mathematical symbols, you can define a shortcut Key (Insert, Symbol, shortcutKey) so that, for example, [ctrl]a gives you an α .
       

    8. Autocorrect.
      Like shortcut keys, you can have Word automatically replace a few letters with a full word or set of words. For example, if you're an economist you might want to set up your computer so that by simply writing "het" the computer would automatically change it to "heteroscedasticity". (Tools, Autocorrect).  You can also use this feature to correct common spelling errors. Note that there are some problematic autocorrect specifications in the default setting. In particular, at least on my computer, a lowercase i would get changed to uppercase automatically, which is pretty annoying for mathematical writing.  You can delete this or other autocorrect specifications in the autocorect menu.
       

    9. Writing a macro.
      Macros are simply series of commands that allow you to quickly do tasks that you do repeatedly. For example, I have a macro that types my name and address. To record a macro use (Tools, Macro, recOrd). You can set a shortcut key for the macro or put it on the tool bar using the customizing option (see 11 below),
       

    10. Creating your own  dictionary.
      Be careful, but definitely create your own list of words to be recognized by the spell checker. (Tools, Spelling, Options,Custom Dictionaries, New).  This saves a lot of time in the long run. You can add words to your dictionary by pressing "Add" when checking spelling.
       

    11. Customizing your setup.
      Word allows you to make many many changes in the look and feel of your screen. (Tools, Customize).  For example you can add icons or entirely new menus (I have one just for my macros). Play around with this feature if you find yourself repeating the same commands over and over again.
       

    12. Some tricks to using the equation editor.


      I use the MathType equation editor, not the one that comes with Word. There are a number of very usefule shortcut keys for MathType that are worth learning ( Help, Search, shortcuts).
      Here's a few really useful ones:
      - Greek letters ([ctrl]G followed by letter) e.g. [ctrl]G a gives α
      - Parentheses ([ctrl]9)
      - Brackets ([ctrl][ or [ctrl]{ )
      - Subscript ([ctrl]L)
      - Superscript ([ctrl]H)
      - Sub and Superscript ([ctrl]J)
      - Fractions ([ctrl]F) or ([ctrl]/)
      - Embellishments ([ctrl][alt].)  puts a dot over the previous character, ([ctrl][shift]~) puts a ~ over the character.

      Occassionally you will want to type text in your equations (e.g.,"x=5 is maximum and x=3 is minimum"). Unless you tell it to do otherwise, the equation editor will automatically treat the words as if they are parts of an equation or special object. To make it treat the text like text, use the shortcut key [ctrl][shift]e to change the style to Text, and then [ctrl][shift]= to shift back to Math. Another particularly useful style is Vector-Matrix (bolded), [ctrl][shift]b.
       

    13. Numbering and referencing equations, tables and figures
      Automatic numbering
      Using automatic numbering and referencing of your equations, tables and figures is tedious, but once you learn how to do it, it will save you lots of time in the long run.

      Automatic numbering involves inserting a "field" where you would normally put the number.  Suppose you want to insert an equation number at a point in the text. Instead of typing the number, you insert type of field called a sequence field at the point where you want the number to go.  You do the following (Insert, fiEld, Field, seq equ) replacing the "=" sign in the the lower box with the words "seq equ".  Similarly, if you wanted to create a sequence of table numbers, you'd probably use "seq tab".  Each time you do this, you will create a field that counts the number of times that sequence has appeared in the document.

      Automatic cross-referencing
      Step one, creating your bookmark
      Now suppose you want to refer to one of your automatically numbered sequences.  This is done by first putting the field in a bookmark, and then referring to that bookmark somewhere else in the text.
      To create the bookmark, first select the text that you'll want to refer to later, then create the bookmark (Insert, booKmark) and give it a descriptive name, like "equ_budget_constraint." Note, you don't want to use "equation5" as the title since that defeats the purpose of the automatic numbers -- it may not be the fifth equation later on.  Also note that there can't be any spaces in the bookmark name.  I usually start my equation bookmarks with "eq_" and my table bookmarks with "tab_" so that all my equation bookmarks are listed together. The numbers do not always update immediately. To update them, select the text (all of it with [ctrl]a) then press [F9].

      Step two, referring to the bookmark
      To create an automatic reference to the your equation number at other points in the text you create a "cross reference." (Insert, cross-Reference, Type, Bookmark, Which, then select the bookmark that you want to refer to). This will create a field that reproduces the text in the indicated bookmark.  (Note that cross references bring with them all formatting in the bookmark.  If your bookmarked text is bolded, your cross-reference will be also.  To avoid this, use a style to format the text that will be referenced.  For example, I use a style called Caption, to format all table and figure titles.  The formats from styles are not carried over to a cross reference.)

      A trick to make all this a little more transparent
      I find it helpful to be able to see where a bit of text is actually a field code, so I always have "shading" turned on. To change your settings so that you always see the fields are always shaded, use the following sequence of commands (File, Options, Advanced, then select "Always" in the Field shading item in the Show document content section). Once you've done this, try right-clicking on the field and select "Toggle field codes" and you'll see the field codes there and you can correct some mistakes if necessary. The key reason that you may want to highlight the bookmarks is because it is very easy to accidentally put extra text inside a bookmark that can really mess things up.

      Simplifying all of this
      Once you're comfortable with these basic ideas, you may want to create macros to do some of these tasks.

      Now you can cross-reference anything you want.
      From the same (Insert, cross-Reference) menu you can select different things to refer to automatically, including sections of your document (by choosing the appropriate heading (see styles above)) a particular footnote, a page of your text, etc.  Play around with the two boxes at the top of this menu and you will likely find what you need.
       

    14. Inserting linked figures, tables, etc.
      Modern word processors are supposed to be quite adept at integrating charts and other graphic objects created using other programs.  However, for some reason, just pasting an object from another program such as Excel chart in Word doesn't seem to work all that well.  Hence, as a matter of habit, I paste a link to that chart ( Edit, paste Special ) instead of just pasting it with ([ctrl]v). If you don't want to retain the link, then break it in the links list (Edit, linKs ).

       

    15. Some neat little tricks
      • splitting the screen, ( [alt][ctrl]S )
      • change case ([shift][F3])
      • subscript ( [ctrl] = )
      • superscript ( [ctrl] [shift] = )
      • a line break without starting a new paragraph ( [shift][enter] )
      • non-breaking space ( [ctrl] [shift] [spacebar] )
      • non-breaking hyphen ( [ctrl] [shift] - )
      • selecting a rectangular block of text such as a column of text.  Set the cursor at one corner of the block that you want to select.  Then, holding down the [alt] and [shift] keys, move the mouse to select the block.  This can be copied and pasted.  Such blocks get pasted in the same way they were cut, so be careful.
      • Undoing an action can be achieved by pressing [alt][bkspace] or [ctrl]z.
      • Redoing an action can be achieved by pressing [shift][alt][bkspace] or [ctrl]y.
      • Repeating your last action can be achieved by pressing [ctrl]y. ([ctrl]y and [ctrl]z work the same way in almost all Windows applications.)
       

    16. A couple of page numbering issues
      Numbering landscape pages correctly: Here are pdf files explaining how to place page numbers correctly on landscape pages that appear within a document with portrait alignment:
      MS Word 2003 and MS Word 2007.

      Printing pages in documents with multiple sections. (This is taken directly from Microsoft Support)

      In Word, you can create a multiple-section document with different page numbering in each section. To specify a page or a range of pages to print, you must supply both the page and section number of the range you want to print. In a multiple-section document that contains more than a single page 1, Word cannot determine which "page 1" to print unless you also supply a section number.

      To print a range of pages across sections, use the following syntax in the Pages box:
       

      p<page number>s<section number>-p<page number>s<section number>

      For example, to print page 5 of section 3 through page 2 of section 4, type "p5s3-p2s4" (without the quotation marks).

      To print nonadjacent pages or nonadjacent sections, type the page and section numbers, separated by a comma (,). For example, to print sections 3 and 5 (not section 4), type "s3,s5" (without the quotation marks). To print pages 2 through 5 of section 3 and pages 1 through 4 of section 5, type "p2s3-p5s3,p1s5-p4s5" (without the quotation marks).

    17. Why this page?
      When I was a graduate student writing my dissertation I learned a lot of tricks to make my writing easier.  I found that many of my fellow graduate students were often facing the same frustrations that I'd managed to overcome.  So before leaving Wisconsin I put together a brief list of tricks to using Word, and even gave a 30 minute tutorial session on the use of Word.  When I arrived at A&M and had access to my own web site, I decided that I should probably put the material up there.  From time to time, when I learn something new, I fiddle with the page a little bit to improve it or update it.  I hope you find something useful here.  If you're aware of a trick that you think I ought to include, please let me know.


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    NEWS CONTENTS

    Old News ;-)

    [Jan 30, 2017] It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. There are larger issues like how do you prepare your graphs and images? We need to talk about particular publishing ecosystem

    Jan 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    cm -> Chris G ... Reply Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM

    , January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM
    The comparison comes 20 years late. In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period. Even for short documents like a conference or term paper. It was geared entirely to corporate users. In addition it was riddled with bugs and layout "quirks".

    In reality, you also have to fiddle with Latex, and in the 90's embedding images was big PITA.

    What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

    It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

    Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity.

    Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript.

    Chris G -> cm... , January 29, 2017 at 06:35 AM

    >In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images?

    I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process.

    > Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

    That's what led my employer to switch from WordPerfect to MS Word and from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel in the late '90s. Our customer, the US Govt, imposed a requirement that all reports and supplementary material, e.g., presentations and spreadsheets, be submitted in MS Office formats.

    > What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

    Figure the business owns legal copies. Purchase price is one consideration, another is the cost to maintain the software and keep staff trained in how to use it.

    The inertia - the tendency to stick with what you've got - can be huge when taking the latter factors into account. In an academic research group not only is there a mentality that you want to use the best available tool for the job but there's constant turnover, which supports rapid adaptation and evolution. Inertia is low. In contrast, turnover in (non-startup) business environments is comparatively slow.

    Those businesses make cost-benefit assessments of adopting new software. The tendency is to stick with what you've got until it's absolutely positively unsustainable to do so.

    [Jan 30, 2017] Academia standardized, and contributed to, the most promising free and working alternative. That's how TeX became standard de-facto for scientific publications

    Jan 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    cm -> Observer... , January 29, 2017 at 01:07 AM
    Every product is made for a market/audience. When TeX/LaTeX were created, the itch to be scratched was technical and scientific publications with content and formatting requirements that most commercial tools targeted at corporate users were simply unsuitable for, regardless of price level. Aside from affordability by organizations and individuals largely in the non-commercial sector.

    So academia standardized, and contributed to, the most promising "free" and "working" alternative.

    If you don't have an appreciation for that, it's probably because you never had the need. Like with everything else. Most people are not interested in arcane medical implements and materials, or even mundane home furnishings, until they need them.

    Fred C. Dobbs -> supersaurus... , January 28, 2017 at 11:05 PM
    When the first paper volume of Donald Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming was published in 1968, it was typeset using hot metal typesetting set by a Monotype Corporation typecaster. This method, dating back to the 19th century, produced a "good classic style" appreciated by Knuth. When the second edition of the second volume was published, in 1976, the whole book had to be typeset again because the Monotype technology had been largely replaced by phototypesetting, and the original fonts were no longer available. When Knuth received the galley proofs of the new book on 30 March 1977, he found them awful. Around that time, Knuth saw for the first time the output of a high-quality digital typesetting system, and became interested in digital typography. The disappointing galley proofs gave him the final motivation to solve the problem at hand once and for all by designing his own typesetting system. On 13 May 1977, he wrote a memo to himself describing the basic features of TeX. ...

    The first version of TeX was written in the SAIL programming language to run on a PDP-10 under Stanford's WAITS operating system. For later versions of TeX, Knuth invented the concept of literate programming, a way of producing compilable source code and cross-linked documentation typeset in TeX from the same original file. The language used is called WEB and produces programs in DEC PDP-10 Pascal. ...(Wikipedia)

    (And so, Tex begat LaTex.
    Much as UNIX begat Linux, etc.)

    [Jan 29, 2017] Not all authors are able to afford MS Word and the equipment. So using open source publishing system is the most proper for academic publishing

    Notable quotes:
    "... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem". ..."
    "... Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity. ..."
    "... Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript. ..."
    "... I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process. ..."
    Jan 29, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    cm -> Chris G ... Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM , January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM
    The comparison comes 20 years late. In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period. Even for short documents like a conference or term paper. It was geared entirely to corporate users. In addition it was riddled with bugs and layout "quirks".

    In reality, you also have to fiddle with Latex, and in the 90's embedding images was big PITA.

    What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

    It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

    Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity.

    Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript.

    Chris G -> cm... , January 29, 2017 at 06:35 AM
    >In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images?

    I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process.

    > Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

    That's what led my employer to switch from WordPerfect to MS Word and from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel in the late '90s. Our customer, the US Govt, imposed a requirement that all reports and supplementary material, e.g., presentations and spreadsheets, be submitted in MS Office formats.

    > What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

    Figure the business owns legal copies. Purchase price is one consideration, another is the cost to maintain the software and keep staff trained in how to use it. The inertia - the tendency to stick with what you've got - can be huge when taking the latter factors into account. In an academic research group not only is there a mentality that you want to use the best available tool for the job but there's constant turnover, which supports rapid adaptation and evolution. Inertia is low. In contrast, turnover in (non-startup) business environments is comparatively slow. Those businesses make cost-benefit assessments of adopting new software. The tendency is to stick with what you've got until it's absolutely positively unsustainable to do so.

    [Jan 28, 2017] Ms Word vs LaTeX

    Jan 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Chris G : January 28, 2017 at 06:04 AM

    Re LaTeX reduces writing productivity - The .Plan

    1. My experience with LaTeX vs Word is consistent with the study results - "We show that LaTeX users were slower than Word users, wrote less text in the same amount of time, and produced more typesetting, orthographical, grammatical, and formatting errors."

    2. There's a guy in my group, the most talented applied mathematician I've ever known -incredibly good at applying high level math to solve practical problems, who swears by LaTeX even though we're standardized on Word at work. He's not any faster in preparing his docs than the rest of us and they're not any better in terms of look and feel. He just prefers to use LaTeX. Getting him to use Word has been like pulling teeth, i.e., entirely consistent with "On most measures, expert LaTeX users performed even worse than novice Word users. LaTeX users, however, more often report enjoying using their respective software." I will send him a link to the PLOS ONE article first thing Monday morning;-)

    pgl -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 10:46 AM
    WordPerfect works better than either.
    libezkova -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 03:05 PM

    "My experience with LaTeX vs. Word is consistent with the study results - "We show that LaTeX users were slower than Word users, wrote less text in the same amount of time, and produced more typesetting, orthographical, grammatical, and formatting errors."

    You are wrong.

    Such a statement signifies complete lack of understand of what the writing a book or dissertation is about. And what problems the author faces and need to solve in the process (this is pretty hard and time consuming job to write a sizable book - your book is a very harsh mistress ;-)

    MS Word and TeX represent two different categories of writer's tool: the former is the tool without direct access to raw representation of the document/book. The latter is a tool with full access to such a representation. In this sense you can't and should not even compare them, unless you want to looks like an incompetent.

    Moreover on long documents (to say nothing about books) latest versions of MS Word all have strange quirks. Sometime it change your formatting in a undesirable way. Microsoft software quality really went downhill after, say, 2003.

    Fixing those quirks including "spontaneous" changes in formatting can take a day or a week of work even if you know MS Word perfectly well (which, unsurprisingly, very few people outside programming community do), including the in-depth knowledge of styles and, especially, macro programming. The latter is a must for writing any sizable book in MS Word. Or you need a good programmer to help you.

    Of course, if you expect that your book will be a bestseller you can hire a top level programmer to adapt set of tools/macros for you, but that's a lot of money. You need approximately 3-5K lines of macros to supplement MS Word for writing a sizable book (say, over 300 pages).

    I do know a couple of authors who write their technical books using MS Word (Bruce Eckel the author of "Thinking in Java" is one example). I view them as perverts, although being a programmer is a distinct advantage in such a situation; you will need all your skills to make the job done and you do not need to pay somebody else for such a help ;-).

    Writing a large book is about managing revisions and a very precise formatting of chapters. Which needs to be preserved (and verified with some automatic tools) over many iterations (which can take several years) until the final draft of the book. Manipulating the set of styles you use in the book is not easy in MS Word.

    Here access to the raw representation of the text of the book is vital. If you need to check your examples (like in case of writing programming books), access to raw text is a must (although can be imitated in MS Word via macros). If you are writing geo science or any book with a lot of mathematics – you better forget about MS Word.

    The usual trick authors who write books in MS Word use -- storing each chapter as a separate document -- makes it difficult to create cross references and such. Chapters became semi-isolated and that negatively affects the quality of the book.

    So for technical books and especially dissertations TeX has a huge (and I mean HUGE) edge over MS Word. Only using HTML with styles (FrontPage 2003 or Microsoft expression Web) can compete with TeX and only in case you do not use mathematical notation and equations extensively.

    brian : , January 28, 2017 at 10:16 AM
    Re latex

    OK. word is faster. However there's nothing there about what the document looks like. Word documents look like word documents, i.e. not very good. Perhaps that's a function of somebody knowledgeable setting up templates. I find it really hard to believe that it's that much faster. I find word completely bewildering.

    People like latex it better because they can use their favorite text editor and get it done. using word is completely and utterly annoying. That accounts for the enjoyment factor i think.

    Also too, no mention of lyx.

    libezkova -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 05:59 PM
    I respectfully disagree, but I see your point -- MS Word is much simpler to use for short papers, especially in multi-author env. It requires less sophistication on users part.

    Please understand that for LaTeX to work in multi-author environment you need Git or Subversion (or similar version management system) to be installed and learned by all people in the group. Even when just two people are involved (as often is the case with dissertations ) this is a must.

    But from the point of view of achievable final quality of the product WordPerfect is better as PGL pointed out.

    Both are (unlike TeX) integrated WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") publishing environments with a lot of sophisticated features (such as folding, macros, styles, creation of TOC, powerful spellchecker, etc).

    WordPerfect still is used by lawyers and some other professions who value precise layout:

    http://www.microcounsel.com/nextgen.htm

    == quote ==
    Why do lawyers still love WordPerfect? One attorney answers with "Two words: Reveal Codes. At one point about 10 years ago, I tried switching to Word. My secretary and I agreed we hated it after only a few weeks."
    == end of quote ==

    I am surprised that so few people in the USA use Microsoft Expression Web (or FrontPage ) for this purpose in corporate env.

    I am also surprised how Microsoft being a huge company still managed to produce very complex, professional tools like Ms Word and managed to push them to people who are definitely unable to use even 10% of the features offered.

    Few people understand that MS Word takes years of day-to-day usage (plus some programming abilities) to learn on the expert level. In reality this is a complex publishing system.

    I know some secretaries with almost 30 years day-to-day experience (starting PC DOS days with MS Word 4, which was released in 1987) who still learn something new each month. Often because they knew it a couple of years ago, but forgot :-).

    BTW MS Word is one of the few applications for which viruses ("macro viruses") exist and were a nasty problem in the corporate environment in 1996-2002.

    Bill Gates took huge risk to bring "over-sophisticated" products like this to the market and still managed to achieve a dominant position among regular users. In Bill Gates days Microsoft was a "king of software complexity" in this product niche.

    supersaurus : , January 28, 2017 at 03:26 PM
    LaTeX vs MSWord? really? someone got paid to do research on that topic? what next? emacs vs vim?
    Observer -> supersaurus... , January 28, 2017 at 04:00 PM
    Kind of brings you back, doesn't it. I seem to recall a guy in the lab running LateX on a PDP 11/70 back in the early 80's - rather a boutique affectation even then.
    libezkova -> Observer... , -1
    TeX is a standard typesetting tool for the American Mathematical Society.

    http://www.ams.org/publications/authors/authors
    == quote ==
    Many mathematics publishers (including the AMS) strongly encourage the use of LaTeX:

    How to add page numbers and a table of contents to Word documents

    No matter how great your idea is, the difference between your business proposal and someone else’s could boil down to the look and feel. A title page, header and footer, table of contents, and other elements separate a professional-looking document from a dull sea of text. It’s worth your time to learn how Word’s tools and wizards make such formatting easy—and keep exploring other ways to present your work in the best possible light.

    Headers and footers

    Any type of professional-looking document should have headers and footers. Headers and footers are where the title of your document, the page number, and any footnotes and citations you’ve referenced in the body of your paper will reside. Based on the type of document you’re creating, you’ll want a header, footer, or both to house relevant information for the reader to reference.

    MS Word is notorious for containing private information in file headers, but not any longer. Microsoft has quietly released a tool to scrub leaky metadata from documents edited with its software. The Remove Hidden Data Add-In will permanently remove hidden and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint files. For Office XP/Office 2003 only, we should add.

    WindowsDevCenter.com -- Batch-Running Word Macros from the DOS Command Line

    When processing manuscripts for shiny new O'Reilly books, I often need to run a particular Word macro on a batch of files. While this is certainly possible using VBA directly, it becomes quite challenging when either the name of the specific macro to run (it may be one of dozens of utility macros), or the files to run it on, are constantly changing, as is usually the case.<

    Spoiled by the large percentage of my day spent on a Unix command line, I started looking for a way to easily run any Word macro, on any number of files, right from the DOS command line. This article shows how to do just that, using three popular, free, and Windows-friendly scripting languages: Perl, Python, and Ruby. You'll need at least one of those installed on your Windows machine to use any of the code in this article. If you don't have one, see the sidebar, "Picking a Scripting Language."

    Is One Note the new powerful paradigm ?

    The key issue here is not whether some people will use tablet computers.
    You and others find them useful. I have two laptops, neither are tablets. I
    have no use for them. But, that's NOT the issue...

    The issue is that OneNote in a new category of software for Microsoft that
    is VERY useful on virtually ALL non-server platforms - workstations, laptops
    (and tablets), standard PDAs, and cell-phone PDAs!!! It is (or can be) a
    great tool for managing multi-dimensional, non-structured data.

    ... ... ...

    In the early 90's, I was hired by a consulting company to do a complete
    evaluation of Lotus Notes. I found Lotus Notes to be a very nice
    multi-dimensional text database with an easy-to-use development/user front
    end, and strong communcation and synchronization capabilities.

    Lotus Notes was developed by a small company in Massachusetts. It was
    subsequently purchased by Lotus. The devlopment company knew what they had.
    The Lotus Notes customers knew what they had. BUT, the marketing
    department at Lotus wasn't filled with the brightest bulbs around. They did
    NOT understand Lotus Notes. They marketed it as a glorified e-mail system.
    Completely BRAINDEAD marketing!!!

    I and several others where I work use OneNote to capture and manage the
    massive amount of detail associated with our job. For example, I'm working
    on a small database ETL project that involves creating about 50-60 SQL Server
    objects...

    I have an outline of the project. I create a checkbox icon for each SQL
    Server object and other steps that I'm developing. If I decide a new object
    or step is required, I just add a new one. When I complete development and
    unit test on an object, I check off the checkbox icon. When my manager wants
    a status, I e-mail the project page to him. He deletes the old page in his
    OneNote pages and snaps in my new page. Simple and easy!!!

    And, do NOT tell me the we should use project management software. I've
    used project management software since 1987, and that includes EVERY version
    of Microsoft Project. It's a great tool for a project manager on big
    projects. My ETL project is actually a sub-project of a larger project.
    Our project manager uses to manage the overall project. My sub-project is
    two bullets and a milestone on his project. But MS Project is way too
    complex and difficult to use for smaller projects or sub-projects like my
    piece. Managing my little ETL project with Microsoft Project is like using
    the proverbial 10 Lb sledgehammer to swat a fly.

    My feedback about OneNote is related to enhancements needed to better
    capture and manage textual, non-structured data. I don't want a "Pen" to
    draw pictures and write; I want the ability to add simple arrows and lines!
    I don't want rulers and paragraph formatting to make it pretty; I want those
    improvements to make the data more readable! I don't want more voice input;
    I want to sync it with a PDA. (Right now, there is NO reason for me to
    switch from my Palm PDA to a Pocket PC. If Microsoft developed a two-way
    sync PocketPC version of OneNote, I'd switch in an instant!)

    So, am I frustrated? Yes! Microsoft needs to get their heads out of the
    trees and see the forest! OneNote is a new category of app and not simply a
    tablet data entry tool!!!

    OK, flame off!

    Regards,

    Dan.

    "Ben M. Schorr - MVP" wrote:
    [vbcol=seagreen]
    > On Thu, 16 Jun 2005 09:07:03 -1000, Dan Clark
    > <DanClark@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote:
    >
    >
    > Well, my grandfather once said "We can't all like the same things,
    > otherwise everybody'd be after your grandma."
    >
    > That said, I use a Tablet PC as my primary work machine and I find it to
    > be a very powerful tool. It's not for everybody, to be certain, but I use
    > (and see them used) it quite extensively and find it to be tremendous.
    >
    > And I get a lot of amazed looks when people see me standing in an
    > elevator, in tablet mode, reading and replying to e-mail or taking notes
    > on a meeting I just had or...
    >
    > As they continue to get more powerful and lighter their utility will
    > continue to grow.
    >
    > --
    > -Ben-
    > Ben M. Schorr, MVP-OneNote/Outlook
    > Operations Coordinator
    > Stockholm/KSG - Honolulu
    > Microsoft OneNote FAQ:
    > [url]http://home.hawaii.rr.com/schorr/computers/onenotefaq.htm[/url]
    >[/vbcol]

    Ben M. Schorr - MVP

    2005-07-28, 7:22 pm

    On Thu, 28 Jul 2005 05:57:04 -1000, Dan Clark
    <DanClark@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote:
    [vbcol=seagreen]
    > My frustration with Microsoft is that they treat my feedback as "dumb
    > user needs help". I can't stand marketing pablum. It indicates that
    > they 1) are not listening or 2) don't have the capacity to see the
    > opportunity that is presented - for every tablet user, there are
    > probably 10-20 non-tablet users who would use OneNote if it is marketed
    > correctly!!![/vbcol]

    I'm not sure where you're getting that from, Dan. All I said was that
    Tablet PCs are very useful for some people. Lots of users run OneNote on
    non-Tablet machines, of course. The OneNote team is very happy to get
    feedback and user feedback is the #1 driver of the direction of the
    development of the new version.
    [vbcol=seagreen]
    > I and several others where I work use OneNote to capture and manage the
    > massive amount of detail associated with our job.[/vbcol]

    Yes, so do I. :-)
    [vbcol=seagreen]
    > I have an outline of the project. I create a checkbox icon for each SQL
    > Server object and other steps that I'm developing. If I decide a new
    > object or step is required, I just add a new one. When I complete
    > development and unit test on an object, I check off the checkbox icon.
    > When my manager wants a status, I e-mail the project page to him. He
    > deletes the old page in his OneNote pages and snaps in my new page.
    > Simple and easy!!![/vbcol]

    O.K., so what's the problem?
    [vbcol=seagreen]
    > My feedback about OneNote is related to enhancements needed to better
    > capture and manage textual, non-structured data. I don't want a "Pen"
    > to draw pictures and write; I want the ability to add simple arrows and
    > lines![/vbcol]

    It's on the wish list and may well make it into the next version.
    [vbcol=seagreen]
    > I don't want rulers and paragraph formatting to make it pretty; I want
    > those improvements to make the data more readable! I don't want more
    > voice input; I want to sync it with a PDA.[/vbcol]

    Also on the wish list.
    [vbcol=seagreen]
    > (Right now, there is NO reason for me to switch from my Palm PDA to a
    > Pocket PC.[/vbcol]

    There are sync utilities for OneNote with Palm -- though I haven't tried
    any of them.
    [vbcol=seagreen]
    > If Microsoft developed a two-way sync PocketPC version of OneNote, I'd
    > switch in aninstant!)[/vbcol]

    Well, sometime late next year you may have to go shopping for a new PDA
    then. :-)

    --
    -Ben-
    Ben M. Schorr, MVP-OneNote/Outlook
    Operations Coordinator
    Stockholm/KSG - Honolulu
    Microsoft OneNote FAQ: [url]http://www.factplace.com/onenotefaq.htm[/url]

    Chris H.

    2005-07-28, 7:22 pm

    Dan, you're barking at the wrong trees here. Ben and the other MVPs who try
    to assist users in this public newsgroup are not, repeat NOT,
    spokesmen/women for Microsoft. We are only volunteers to assist peers in
    this and other newsgroups.

    We are not employed by Microsoft, and Microsoft does not tell us what to
    post. I post a lot about Tablet PCs because I have three, enjoy the usage
    and my computer life has taken on a new sense of freedom in using them. I
    also have two Media Center Edition computers in our home, and only spend
    enough time with them usually to program in what my wife or three daughters
    want recorded off the satellite TV service.

    With my Tablets, I spent even less time on my other desktops than I did
    three years ago. Why should I sit at a desk when I can be in a recliner in
    the living room, watch ESPN, recorded TV shows (Xbox as an Extender to the
    MCE machines) or on the back deck enjoying fresh air. I can do everything
    on my Tablets that I used to be strapped to my computer desk to accomplish.

    OneNote isn't "just" for Tablet PCs. We who post in this newsgroup know
    that. The majority of users of OneNote are non-Tablet PC owners, but that
    doesn't make us bad. 8-) Perhaps we're ahead of the curve a bit. Perhaps
    we're jaded because we do have Tablets. But at least we're here trying to
    sort out issues, for free. Volunteering to dig into problems and find
    solutions.
    --
    Chris H.
    Microsoft Windows MVP/Tablet PC
    Tablet Creations - [url]http://nicecreations.us/[/url]
    Associate Expert
    Expert Zone - [url]www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/expertzone[/url]


    "Dan Clark" <DanClark@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
    news:0125D7E6-EEAE-4B7B-AEA1-4D70673311F8@microsoft.com...[vbcol=seagreen]
    > Ben,
    >
    > The key issue here is not whether some people will use tablet computers.
    > You and others find them useful. I have two laptops, neither are tablets.
    > I
    > have no use for them. But, that's NOT the issue...
    >
    > The issue is that OneNote in a new category of software for Microsoft that
    > is VERY useful on virtually ALL non-server platforms - workstations,
    > laptops
    > (and tablets), standard PDAs, and cell-phone PDAs!!! It is (or can be) a
    > great tool for managing multi-dimensional, non-structured data.
    >
    > My frustration with Microsoft is that they treat my feedback as "dumb user
    > needs help". I can't stand marketing pablum. It indicates that they 1)
    > are
    > not listening or 2) don't have the capacity to see the opportunity that is
    > presented - for every tablet user, there are probably 10-20 non-tablet
    > users
    > who would use OneNote if it is marketed correctly!!!
    >
    > I've been working in the analytical space for 26 years. This includes all
    > aspects - development, support, marketing and sales, AND as a user. For
    > example...
    >
    > In the early 90's, I was hired by a consulting company to do a complete
    > evaluation of Lotus Notes. I found Lotus Notes to be a very nice
    > multi-dimensional text database with an easy-to-use development/user front
    > end, and strong communcation and synchronization capabilities.
    >
    > Lotus Notes was developed by a small company in Massachusetts. It was
    > subsequently purchased by Lotus. The devlopment company knew what they
    > had.
    > The Lotus Notes customers knew what they had. BUT, the marketing
    > department at Lotus wasn't filled with the brightest bulbs around. They
    > did
    > NOT understand Lotus Notes. They marketed it as a glorified e-mail
    > system.
    > Completely BRAINDEAD marketing!!!
    >
    > I and several others where I work use OneNote to capture and manage the
    > massive amount of detail associated with our job. For example, I'm
    > working
    > on a small database ETL project that involves creating about 50-60 SQL
    > Server
    > objects...
    >
    > I have an outline of the project. I create a checkbox icon for each SQL
    > Server object and other steps that I'm developing. If I decide a new
    > object
    > or step is required, I just add a new one. When I complete development
    > and
    > unit test on an object, I check off the checkbox icon. When my manager
    > wants
    > a status, I e-mail the project page to him. He deletes the old page in
    > his
    > OneNote pages and snaps in my new page. Simple and easy!!!
    >
    > And, do NOT tell me the we should use project management software. I've
    > used project management software since 1987, and that includes EVERY
    > version
    > of Microsoft Project. It's a great tool for a project manager on big
    > projects. My ETL project is actually a sub-project of a larger project.
    > Our project manager uses to manage the overall project. My sub-project
    > is
    > two bullets and a milestone on his project. But MS Project is way too
    > complex and difficult to use for smaller projects or sub-projects like my
    > piece. Managing my little ETL project with Microsoft Project is like
    > using
    > the proverbial 10 Lb sledgehammer to swat a fly.
    >
    > My feedback about OneNote is related to enhancements needed to better
    > capture and manage textual, non-structured data. I don't want a "Pen" to
    > draw pictures and write; I want the ability to add simple arrows and
    > lines!
    > I don't want rulers and paragraph formatting to make it pretty; I want
    > those
    > improvements to make the data more readable! I don't want more voice
    > input;
    > I want to sync it with a PDA. (Right now, there is NO reason for me to
    > switch from my Palm PDA to a Pocket PC. If Microsoft developed a two-way
    > sync PocketPC version of OneNote, I'd switch in an instant!)
    >
    > So, am I frustrated? Yes! Microsoft needs to get their heads out of the
    > trees and see the forest! OneNote is a new category of app and not simply
    > a
    > tablet data entry tool!!!
    >
    > OK, flame off!
    >
    > Regards,
    >
    > Dan.
    >
    > "Ben M. Schorr - MVP" wrote:
    >

    Recommended Links

    Microsoft Office Word - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Outliner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Outlining Enhances Writing Creativity - Strategies to Succeed in Writing

    Microsoft Word Living with the Beast

    I use built in Word bullets and numbering, I leave the styles as "normal", I work with normal.dot .. and .... I use macros to set formatting for 3 levels of header. The macros aren't perfect (I'm no guru), but they structure my document headings quickly and consistently. They assign headings outline levels, so I can collapse/expand in outline view and navigate using the document Map feature. (The macros won't work, however, in outline view. Word is like that.)

    That's all I do. It turns out to be enough to make my documents navigable and consistent.

    If you know a bit about Word macros, you can view my macros and copy and paste them into the word macro editor.

    comp.programming.literate FAQ

    - WinWordWEB
    ------------

    Developer: Lee Wittenberg <leew@pilot.njin.net>
    Version: Unknown
    Hardware: Needs Microsoft Word for Windows, v.2.x, and, of course,
    MS-Windows 3.x.
    Languages: Any programming language.
    Formatter: Word for Windows 2.x for text formatting and file
    maintenance.
    Availability: Anonymous ftp from:
    bart.kean.edu:pub/leew
    LPA:/machines/ms-dos
    World-Wide Web (WWW)
    Readme: WORDWEB.DOC in the downloadable package describes the
    system.

    Description:

    WinWordWEB is a set of a Word for Windows macros (plus a paragraph
    style) that provide a crude literate programming environment. The
    ``look and feel'' of the system is based on Norman Ramsey's noweb, but
    can easily be modified to suit individual tastes.

    Support:

    None. WinWordWEB was written as a prototype to see if a WYSIWYG
    literate programming system was possible. It is intended as a jumping
    off point for future work by others. However, the system is
    surprisingly usable as it stands, and the author is interested in
    hearing from users (satisfied and dissatisfied).

    Anyone interested in actively supporting (and improving) the product
    should contact the author via email.

    Security

    MS Word is notorious for containing private information in file headers, but not any longer. Microsoft has quietly released a tool to scrub leaky metadata from documents edited with its software. The Remove Hidden Data Add-In will permanently remove hidden and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint files. For Office XP/Office 2003 only, we should add.



    Etc

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