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How can I convert from Microsoft Word to a LaTeX document

I have this fairly large physics thesis due in half a year (about 150 pages) and I wanted to use LaTeX for the formulas and such. I am just the average PC-user, I don't know much about computers, I just use it casually (unlike most of you, who I assume to know much about computers). Since I am a rookie, I like LaTeX very much, because it is so simple. Just use dollars signs and some short abbreviations and voila: you can get the most complicated formulas and such! I want to write a document, preferably in word 2003, and I want a simple converter that can convert it into LaTeX style, just like the box below where I'm typing is doing now. Keep in mind, I don't know a lot, so please suggest some easy converters with some instruction. Also, if there is a type of free document-writer like word with LaTeX 'built-in', I'm willing to use that too.

  • Also, if you guys would like to tell me what you use for projects like these, I would appreciate it too.
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marked as duplicate by Kurt, Marco, morbusg, lockstep, Ian Thompson Oct 26 '12 at 15:05

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Well, I think the questions differ somewhat.. –  ZafarS Oct 26 '12 at 14:18
    
I would give LaTeX a try, why don't you want to use it? –  Juri Robl Oct 26 '12 at 14:29
    
How would I do that? Is there a LaTeX document writer? Like microsoft word which I can download, and can type documents in and save the documents to work on them later? If so, where can I download it? –  ZafarS Oct 26 '12 at 14:35
    
What do you mean "LaTeX document writer"? You can basically use any texteditor, but there are IDEs with syntax highlighting and spelling correction, like TeXMaker. –  Juri Robl Oct 26 '12 at 14:38
    
Use Latex and if you don't know it have a look to question LaTeX books to learn it. Perhaps faster would be to visit a LaTeX course -- if your university offers one to learn it. –  Kurt Oct 26 '12 at 14:44
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Sorry to tell you, but this is close to be impossible, if you would like to have good results. Some reasons are:

  • Word 2003 uses proprietary format, so converts are pretty hard to write
  • Word and LaTeX follow pretty different approaches. LaTeX is a document markup language, while Word is a WYSIWYG editor. So usually you specify in word "how the document looks" while in LaTeX you specify "what you mean" and let LaTeX do the Layout.

There are some converters out there, but they can't do what you need. At least images and formatting won't be the right way.


Note: I just reworked this part. (Manually insert LaTeX formulas to Word is pretty hard so I won't recommend this for beginners)

I would recommend you to manually convert your word document to latex. This isn't as hard as you may think. I'll give try to give an example configuration here:

What you need for an easy beginning:

  • A LaTeX Suite. I recommend you to use MIKTeX for Windows.
  • A Latex editor. For example TexStudio Download here

Please install first MIKTeX and then TeXStudio. Now you are Ready to "import" your Document.

Create a new Document in TexStudio
Paste:

\documentclass{scrbook}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage[english]{babel}
\usepackage{mathtools}

\begin{document}

\end{document}

The exact meaning of this isn't too important right now. Basically \usepackage loads features for LaTeX. Important: Every command begins with a \.

Next step copy your word document as plain text in between:

\begin{document}

\end{document}

Now you'll need to do the formatting. You may have chapter, section, subsection, subsubsection and some more as headline.

Now mark a headline and enter for example \section + enter. You should get:

\section{headline}

This way you continue for all other headlines. Note that there is also the starred version each command ( for example \subsection*{another headline}). These entries won't be in the table of contents.

For enumerations you use:

\begin{enumerate}
    \item first item
    \item second item
\end{enumerate}

For uncounted enumerations you use \begin{itemize} ... \end{itemize}

To emphasize a word use \emph{some word}

You can auto generate a table of contents with \tableofcontents

For images please see http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/Importing_Graphics. I'm running out of time, but I might enhance this in future.

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So how would you handle this? What programs would you use for such a thesis with many equations but where layout is important? –  ZafarS Oct 26 '12 at 14:17
    
What do you mean 'typeset the formulas with latex and use them as an image'. How does one do that? –  ZafarS Oct 26 '12 at 14:24
    
I'll edit my answer. This may take a moment. –  someonr Oct 26 '12 at 14:28
    
@ZafarS If a good layout is important, I wouldn't use Word... –  Juri Robl Oct 26 '12 at 14:30
    
@JuriRobl I mean that I want to make an attractive thesis, with the formulas neatly displayed (which LaTeX enables me to do) and while being able to add pictures where I want and don't make it look to 'static' if you understand what I mean. What would you use, Juri? –  ZafarS Oct 26 '12 at 14:37
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