MS Word is hereby banished

| 1 Comment

[A message to Nexus group members and my students on April 10, 2007]

Hi all,

I have made a decree. I will henceforth no longer accept electronic
versions of papers, reports, theses, or dissertations in Microsoft
Word format. I have been using the software for far too long, it is a
cancer upon our productivity. There a number of reasons for this. The
format is closed, stylesheets and headings never work right, every
document looks different even when it shouldn't, references are never
formatted correctly, track changes leads to crashing, the files
produced are bloated, templates don't work, embedded graphics are not
reproduced correctly, it is prone to viruses, the output is ugly, etc.

You may continue with MS Word for your personal use, and of course in
anything unrelated to my supervision of your academic or research
work. You probably need to continue to have the software available as
others will send you documents in that format.

However, when transmitting a document to me, if you want me to read
it, but not edit it in detail, you may use pdf. If you want me to
edit it (and this applies to all of my TAs, RAs, Post-docs, and
research fellows), I would suggest plain text or LaTeX. For academic
papers, I will be using LaTeX. LaTeX automatically produces PDF output.


There are a variety of open source LaTeX tools. I use TeXShop on Mac
OS X.

The new version of (the non-open source) MathType exports equations
to LaTeX format.

I now use the cross-platform (and free) Jabref as a reference
manager, and would suggest using that as well. I believe EndNote
references can be exported to BibTex, the format underlying
references as used in Jabref. Google Scholar can be set to produce
BibTeX formatted references, which is very convenient, as those can
be dragged and dropped into jabref.

There are tools to export tables from excel to LaTeX (e.g.
Excel2Latex V2.0 ... though be careful with this, it can be
destructive of the original data, so always work with a copy).

I would suggest installing Natbib as well. This allows you to
reformat all of your references with a single command so that it
comports with a different journal standard.

This decree applies to all papers currently under review or under
revision as well, subsequent versions should be reformatted in LaTeX
when it is time for revision, for a paper-length document that should
take about 2 hours.

The only exceptions to this are when sponsors or publishers require
MS Word format.

I understand there may be a learning curve associated with conversion
to LaTeX, but I believe the long term reduction in variable costs
outweighs the initial fixed costs.

I am not especially happy with Powerpoint either, but that will wait
another day.

-- dml

1 Comment

In place of powerpoint, try beamer, a LaTeX package available from CTAN.

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on May 15, 2007 3:53 PM.

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