[texhax] TeX v. Word, etc.

Yuri Robbers yuri.robbers at gmail.com
Mon Aug 21 20:43:26 CEST 2006

Like Dave, I have many bitter memories... converting old Word files to new
versions, converting Word files from Mac to PC and vice versa, converting
WordPect to anything else... and despite being a TeXie, I still had to deal
with it because I co-authored things with non-TeXies. Especially Word-on-Mac
and Word-on-PC people cooperating on a mathematics reader gauarantee hours
of fun. Equations being printed at twice the width AND half the height, or
vice versa, incompatible figure formats...

Actually I still have to deal with it these days. I co-organize two annual
simulations of the United Nations for 15-18 year olds. Even in the smallest
one there are 400+ kids from 18 countries, and they all bring their
resolutions and policy statements and all with them in electronic versions.
And it is amazing what variety of .doc and .rtf and .weirdness files pop up.
All from different word versions (95, 97, 2000, XP, 2003, home,
professional, CE,...) in different locales (try opening an English document
written in Hungarian Word 97 Home in Dutch Word 2003 Professional). The
horror... the pain...

And then of course everybody tries to make it look "good" according to their
own standards. Different fonts, typographic conventions, and gimmicks. I
know of at least three completely different ways to create automatically
generated linenumbers in Word now.

As if this isn't enough, the kids "merge" resolutions: taking bits from
several other resolutions, all of different origin, and paste them into any
one of them.

Then everything that gets passed by the committes has to be collected into a
"Resolution Booklet" with a uniform layout. Some poor sod (usually me) ends
up spending countless hours trying to make everything a) uniform and b)
looking reasonably ok.

I'm starting to think it might be less work to print out the whole lot (in
as far as the printer prints what is shown on the screen: WYSIWYG doesn't
work over different keymaps) and type it in again in LaTeX by hand.
Suggestions, anyone?

And actually, if it helps anybody, I still have a 5.25" floppy disk
somewhere with WordPerfect 1.0 on... (just one disk, and that version
included a spreadsheet and database) :-)


On 8/21/06, David C. Walden <dave at walden-family.com> wrote:
> > > Take a Word file from 20 years ago and try to read it with any
> > > software around today.
> >Can anyone give some real examples where you actually try this and
> >report what happened?
> Not actual examples -- just bitter memories.  The path that failed
> for me was converting from an early version of Word for PC to
> Word for Mac and then, years later, trying to convert back to
> the then current Word for PC.
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