# [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