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Maybe LaTeX is not easy, but writing a scientific PhD dissertation in LaTeX is easier than doing so in Word. I did it in LaTeX. I had no problems. My wife did it in Word, and we both spend hours trying to solve tons of stupid Word related problems.

edits: typos.




20 years ago I wrote my dissertation using LaTeX. Two years ago I found it in old backups and immediately stuck it into a git repo, build a LaTeX hosting docker container and built the whole ~120 page doc using the makefile I made at the time. I then proceeded to marvel at the ingenuity of people, the hubris of a young man and the futility of it all. I then quenched the rising tide of existential angst with a few craft beers I purchased using proceeds from my day job building silly web-apps in JavaScript for a big multinational mining company.

Had I written it in word I would have tossed the disk into the trash, and watched a movie.

LaTeX, the gift that keeps on giving.


And for actual publications and the like, latex is indeed awesome and there is a strong argument for superiority.

But the ``problem'' is people who insist on using it for everything. Have a memo? Better set up a repo. Writing a report for a manger? Latex!

With the simpler things where you won't be cross referencing constantly and any figures that you have you want absolute control over placement, Word is the way to go. And pretty much the moment you are done your dissertation, that is the majority of what you'll write. Even in academia you'll likely spend more time writing grants and memos than papers. And, with at least the former, what matters most is having the figure easily seen and fitting the format requirements (specifically page count).

Use the best tool for any given job.


I agree. The other day, I had to write a 1-page project proposal for a PhD scholarship and they were giving the font to use and its size, and the margins. I had almost no mathematical symbol to use. One of the professors said that it looks unprofessional to not use Latex. I mean, I could have use Latex and I would have looked like exactly the same given the requirements. I just did it in LibreOffice because that was really the simplest I could have done.


To get an idea of what people might mean when they say that LaTeX looks more professional, see this: http://www.zinktypografie.nl/latex.php?lang=en

Oftentimes, I can (correctly) correlate "weird" looking documents with MS Word or Open/LibreOffice, eg: when reading papers. It's a surprising subconscious estimate and I don't know what throws my sensibilities off! Maybe I'm used to a higher standard of typesetting, or maybe it's just that I'm used to reading LaTeX output. I have heard the same from multiple academics who have spent some years looking at LaTeX output.

I wouldn't be surprised if people spent more time looking at beautiful documents, compared to uglier counterparts. Just like any other UX. As always, the document creator has to decide whether it's worth the extra effort.


Word 2010 supports ligatures, old-style and lining numbers, kerning and rare and historical letters and ligatures:

http://www.howtogeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/435x597x...


Latex typography looks vastly better than Word or LibreOffice, even when the font, margins and size are fixed.


Writing slides for a scientific talk too. Or a bullet-text-heavy slides for that matter.

OTOH: for many business cases where text is kept sparse and randomly placed PowerPoint excels. And new versions have somewhat taken Tufte's criticism to heart -- the smart, make-a-diagram-for-text enable a lot of conceptual collaboration across a widely multidisciplinar organization. I mean, sometimes you're writing documentation for your fellow nerds (i.e. the equations behind some code you wrote) and sometimes you're explaining economic concepts to lawyers.

(I think (we) nerds tend to undervalue the work and insights of people like lawyers and accountants; and the importance of clear communication. But I digress on a digression...)


Writing a dissertation in word is fine. Preparing for a dissertation for print in word is a pain in the ass. The 'correct' way to do it is to write in Word, do citations in Endnote, and then lay the whole thing out in InDesign.




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