Nailing the Word vs LaTeX Argument

Even the things Microsoft Word does badly can now be fixed!  Read on to find out how...

Many of my computing colleagues claim to prefer using LaTeX to Microsoft Word. I don’t agree, because Microsoft Word has some wonderful features and its WYSIWYG interface makes creating documents much easier. But I do concede that there are two things that LaTeX normally does better than Word: arranging images and tables separately from the text; and having a single update feature to process all the fields, references and tables of contents at once.

So, as a programmer, naturally I look for ways to make Microsoft Word to have these features; that way, there’d be no reason for anyone to even consider LaTeX. After several years of experimentation, I’ve found solutions for both. 

In an earlier blog, I explained how to get floating images and tables to work well in Word. Although a lot of people have viewed that blog, I have to admit the technique was far too complicated for general use. I’ve now found a much better way to achieve the same results: I use ready-prepared ‘templates’, and use the Word autotext feature to store and insert them. And rather than mess around with complex Word settings, I’ve created a VBA macro that positions the frames containing images and tables correctly in your document. 

And I’ve even, with a fair bit of help from sources on the Internet, found a way to get Word to update everything at the press of a button (also incidentally fixing Mendeley and Zotero’s bibliography styling).

Both solutions are available on GitHub at https://github.com/charlesweir/WordSupport .

Do try out them out; there’s full instructions included. I’ve been using both for six months, and they make my editing life enormously easier. 

I trust you will find them useful too.

 

- Charles