[texhax] What program can I use to edit TeX files?

Uwe Lück uwe.lueck at web.de
Fri Mar 22 16:20:34 CET 2013


Am Donnerstag, den 21.03.2013, 14:01 -0400 schrieb Steven Pisano:
> Barbara, Thomas:
> Thank you so much for your input, and helping along a newbie.
> Here is a sample file (.txt) I edited (along with original ".tex" file). 
> Without being specific, the publisher told me I could not give them
> a "txt" file because "characters will not appear correctly in ASCII format."

I see that actually a mistake happened, rev-1.tex.txt has question
marks where in 1.tex are quotation marks.

It is correct that you should not send ASCII files. 
But ASCII is not the same as plain text.

ASCII means that only (at most) the first 128 "characters" 
are preserved.  The more recent ISO-8859 encodings preserve 
(almost) 256 characters.  They suffice for "Latin" alphabets, 
especially they can handle many accents, currency symbols, ... 
that cannot be encoded by ASCII. 

The standard today is to encode much more than 256 characters, 
by Unicode.  With the standard UTF-8 encoding, in general one 
character cannot be represented by a single byte. 
This is a difficulty for certain TeX versions, 
some care is needed to deal with 2-byte characters.

But still it is plain text, and .tex files are plain text files.

You should not make .tex.txt files.  This is may be a difficulty 
with Word: saving "as plain text" what Word internally handles 
as something binary, and then that funny program adds the 
.txt extension.

You should simply edit the .tex files, without changing their 
names, at least keep the extension .tex.

> So, all "wars" aside, what I guess I need to know is that if Word 
> could inadvertently introduce artifacts that would prevent or interfere 
> with TeX compiling the file correctly, all I need to use is a bare bones 
> editor that will enable me to give a ".tex" file back to the publisher.

There are probably ways to avoid such mistakes with Word, 
and mistakes can happen with plain text editors as well. 
I would just say that Word is too heavy for the task.

A plain text editor usually does not change the encoding, 
but I have experienced difficulties with that.

Especially, I just had an experience where I received ISO-8859 
files, while my editor by default saves as UTF-8.  This actually 
broke the TeX runs.  The text editor I used for this task is in 
my view not very helpful about encodings, but I found a way.
I needed a trick to corroborate my suspicion that the original 
encoding was 1-byte and that I should keep 1-byte encoding. 
The fogging editor allowed saving "as ISO 8859-15" as an 
alternative to UTF-8.  That was OK, although the encoding 
probably was ISO 8859-1 and the editor displayed some symbols 
wrongly.  I just needed to save "in 1-byte mode".

That was just a story, it was on Linux.  If you are on Windows, 
I cannot tell you much, have not worked with it for some years.
You might just try Notepad and first clarify its behaviour 
with encodings on examples, we might help here about that.

> I am not creating dvi files. I am not 'typesetting' the book.
> I am only doing "language editing," not actually editing the equations

Then I would consider it bad to get an entire TeX installation. 
But it would be good if you had an editor with TeX syntax highlighting.

The terrible gedit that I used here on Ubuntu-Linux at least is 
great in that it provides TeX syntax highlighting without requiring
a TeX installation.  Maybe you can find something similar, 
maybe you could switch to Linux, it is not so difficult today!
You could simply, as I have done, buy a little laptop and install 
Linux on it, as an alternative to the computer you mainly use. 
This may be easier than learning how to choose the operating 
system while booting or create hard disk partitions for different 
operating systems.



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