# The most convenient file format to switch between latex and a word processor back and forth

I have to work on a project to create some docs, the problem is that the others have to only consider the content of docs while I care about the font, the margin, and all the others stuff with latex. There is some pratical solution to that? I was interested in some editors like LyX but i experienced some problems especially while opening "pure" tex files.

I'm looking for every solution that can solve my problem: a new editor with its own file format, a new file format compatible with some editor, a plugin, everythin that can solve my problem.

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What about plain text files? Everybody can create, edit, copy&paste these and you can \input text files. – Marco Nov 8 '11 at 17:07
There is no real common ground between MS Word (and similar) and LaTeX, beside plain Text. Actually RTF (which is Word's second native format) was inspired by TeX, but you can't convert between them directly. – Martin Scharrer Nov 8 '11 at 17:09
3 main problems: 1) the user have to care about the encoding and charset 2) i have to manually remove and manually add all the tag/commands/environments 3) it's not really possible to create extra content like math formula. – Micro Nov 8 '11 at 17:10
I do not only care about Microsoft Word, i use pratically all the main document file types, also there could be a good latex editor out there ... – Micro Nov 8 '11 at 17:11
Ok, then your question isn't very clear. What exactly are you looking for? Please edit your question accordantly. – Martin Scharrer Nov 8 '11 at 17:13

Plain text.

I'll say that again. Plain text.

.txt files. Anything else is asking for trouble.

If the other authors only care about the content, then they can write in plain text. They can leave you notes in the text on how they'd like it formatted if they want. (Perhaps you could mark them up something like [format: …] so that you can search for their notes easily.)

If the problem is that you can't dictate what your coauthors write in, and they are sticking with word then … I pity you. I really do. Dump them and find some better coauthors. More seriously, you could stick with doc and tex and then use something to convert between them. Kevin Klement wrote some blog posts on this topic:

The upshot is that AbiWord is a goodish tool for doing the conversion, but it is far from perfect.

Or if you could convince your coauthors to write in Pandoc's mark up, that would be even easier, maybe. Here's a nice discussion of pandoc. Although if you can convince them of that, convince them to write tex...

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easy to say, i mean, imagine a doc composed of "only" 20 pages, i pratically have to examine every single word, i have to fix some eventual problem with the encoding of the character and only this job can keep me for minutes and hours; also i have to decrypt the doc legenda and try to recreate every symbol, formula and chart, from the scratch, after all this work, if have to give him back i have to re-encode in plain text ... – Micro Nov 8 '11 at 17:24
And working with a .doc will be a breeze in comparison. If there's lots of maths, the "content" people should be using tex, not Word's godawful equation editor. Tell your people to work in notepad. Then they can't break things so easily. – Seamus Nov 8 '11 at 17:30
I secont the 'plain text' very much. I'd go as far as suggesting to your co-authors to format it with Markdown [daringfireball.net/projects/markdown), then you can use pandoc (johnmacfarlane.net/pandoc) for easy conversion to LaTex. – Habi Dec 8 '11 at 10:34
Pandoc's markdown is slightly different from the original specification. There's a good summary of Pandoc markdown on the pandoc site. – Seamus Dec 8 '11 at 12:36

Only practical solution in this case. Complete the project in Word. At the final version save as plain text and then convert manually to TeX/LaTeX. There are no other shortcuts to hell!

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Using commercial software, there is one better solution: Let everybody write in Word, but set the final/main document with InDesign. It can read doc and docx and it can semi-automatically transform stuff like headings into a more regular scheme. – matth Nov 10 '11 at 21:29

I personally feel like there is no good answer to this problem: Use one or the other, not both. However, for one reasonable suggestion, see the answer of Peter Flynn from the LaTeX Users Group.

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I found myself in a similar bind and I opted to edit everything myself, in LaTeX, distributing only the PDFs and waiting for comments... I must say it was a real ordeal, especially when they came bugging me with a letter they want in italic or forcing me to reformat the document contrarily to any sensible consideration. But at least I have a clean document that is stable and does not simply fall apart at the slightest modification, as it happened with me before (especially with documents in excess of 30 pages - seems to be a magic limit for MS Word). Ah, one more thing: the gang I worked with rejected OpenOffice, claiming it was worse than MS Word... No comment there...

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Write a wrapper class with all the typesetting settings like font selection, margins, and all the other stuff. If you are an experienced LyX user you may create a LyX style to use this class. If not, the users may nevertheless use LyX for a draft setting of their document contents. You have to export these and create a nice document. But this is only a solution for documents, that will not be modified a lot of times. For documents with many modification cycles all users should have basic LaTeX knowledge to typeset in LaTeX.

An alternative to LyX may be OpenOffice or LibreOffice and writertolatex. But this even less acceptable if the other users not only write document parts, but should modify the contents of the document too.

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