# How to convert a scientific manuscript from LaTeX to Word using Pandoc?

I have a typical scientific manuscript in a LaTeX .tex file, and I need to convert it to MS Word .doc file. The reason for having to convert to MS Word is I'm submitting the manuscript to an academic journal and they only accept MS Word (I know...)

The manuscript includes title page, figures, tables, equations (inline and in their own align environment), footnotes, bibliography, and an annex. The tables are in their own separate tables.tex file, which I include using the \include{tables} command. Most tables take up a whole landscape page, and were generated sing the package pdflscape. I am using Windows 7 Professional.

My plan is to use pandoc to go from .tex to .odt, open the latter in Libre Office, and convert to .doc. I have read a related question but it is too general. Similarly the examples in the Pandoc website are too simple. I have played around but I am unable to accomplish what I want. This is surprising since converting a scientific manuscript is probably the most common use case for Pandoc. Here are some sample failures:

Example 1

I open a command line in the project folder, and execute the following:

pandoc -s document.tex -o document.odt


I get this error message:

pandoc: figure1: openFile: does not exist <no such file or directory>


where figure1 is the name of a figure file (e.g. figure1.png) in the project folder referenced in a line as \includegraphics[width=5.8in]{figure1}. I suspect pandoc expects a .png extension but not sure how to provide it.

Example 2

Next I try .html, and excute the following:

pandoc -s document.tex -o document.html


The program executes fine. I open HTML file. Footnotes are there but figures are missing, tables are displayed as LaTeX, bibliography is missing, in-line math displays well, but math in align environment does not, section labels are displayed, and some other minor issues.

So given that mine is probably a typical use case scenario, my question is this: What commands should I use to get the .odt file I want? I could not find a fully worked out example on the web.

Here is a specific list of errors. I'll update how I corrected them based on community suggestions:

1. Figures not rendering. Solved by adding .png extension to .tex file in \includegraphics command. Now figures are included but they are huge, with half of each figure outside the page.
2. No bibliography. Solved. First, I have one huge consolidated Latex .bib file where I keep all my citations. I manage it using JabRef. This was giving me problems as I do not keep the cleanest .bib file in town. So I reduced the problem by using a neat trick in JabRef that allows you to subset your master .bib file using the .aux file generated by Latex when compiling your manuscript. In JabRef click on Tools > New Subdatabase based on AUX file. This way I generated a much smaller biblio.bib file with only the articles referenced in my manuscript. Running pandoc -s document.tex -o document.odt --bibliography=biblio.bib did the trick.
3. Display math. Math in \begin{align} environment displayed in verbatim \latex; (A partial solution is to use the TexMaths Libre Office extension. Copy and paste the latex math code in the .odt file created by Pandoc into the equation editor, and so on. Surely this could be built into a macro that can post-process all remaining math.) UPDATE: Display math works very well using --mathjax extension.
4. Inline math. Inline equation do not always render properly. Bold math is a problem. E.g. $\Sigma=\sigma^2\bm{I}$ displays as $\Sigma=\sigma^2\bm{I}$;
5. Labels are displayed (e.g. section labels show as [sec:empirical] blah blah];
6. All tables display as raw latex.

## migrated from stackoverflow.comMay 2 '13 at 8:23

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• Try with \includegraphics[width=5.8in]{figure1.png}. This is only a workaround, since pandoc should support the extensionless format (which is the recommended one) as well. – Federico Poloni May 2 '13 at 8:44
• The needs of convertion to Word have often been discussed in this forum. We found surprisingly many solutions to avoid conversion. So if you tell us the cause for your wish to convert your manuscript, we could look out for an alternative. That said, I suggest to use tex4ht to convert your manuscript to *.doc or whatever. – Keks Dose May 2 '13 at 9:16
• Try invoking Pandoc with the --default-image-extension=.png option (implemented in pandoc 1.11). You are probably best trying to generate .docx output. – Charles Stewart May 2 '13 at 12:29
• Fred: pandoc --version gives the version. I think you have overambitious expectations of pandoc: it cannot understand the whole Tex language, it can only do shallow parsing of typical Latex idioms. If you want the full language, then you need to run a Tex engine, and Keks' suggestion of tex4ht is the right sort of approach. – Charles Stewart May 2 '13 at 16:27
• Submit a pdf file. Wait until the manuscript is accepted for publication. Send the tex file, and ask the editors to sort it out for you. See what they say. Only if they refuse should you try to convert the thing yourself. Many publishing houses have technical staff who can play with conversion software, and secretarial staff who can correct a poorly converted manuscript. – Benjamin McKay Oct 12 '13 at 9:57

I tried nearly all methods mentioned in other answers.

Eventually, and surprisingly, I found the most satisfactory way to convert is to just open the PDF file in MS Word (2013 or newer), which retained most of the layout. Although you are gonna lose the hyperlinks of cross-references.

• Remarkably, this appears to be the simplest and most satisfactory attempt for me, too! However, I used LibreOffice instead of MS Word to open PDF. Not extremely smooth, but the output looks ok. However, it is is the form of ODG graphics for which I now seek a converter into rtf/doc file... – Weather Report Nov 8 '15 at 8:24
• this is by far the simplest method and for all the methods I tried, gives best results (comparatively, of course). – mcy Aug 5 '16 at 12:27
• This did not work for me using Microsoft Word for Mac v15.32. It was asking for the type of text conversion to use and they all just looked like binary file junk. – Nicholas G Reich Jun 7 '18 at 19:50
• this should be the accepted answer – Stefano Lombardi Nov 2 '18 at 0:33
• If you're unable to open the PDF in Word directly, another option is to open in Adobe and: File -> Export To -> Word – FlacoT Feb 12 at 15:28

I gave up on pandoc for almost exactly the same reasons you listed.

If you are set on using pandoc, the simplest solution may be to just identify environments and packages that cause trouble - and then not use them, or just type the offending stuff directly in to MS Word.

I've had a fair amount of luck with going to word documents using latex2rtf to create an .rtf that then gets converted, rather than going through pandoc. As I wrote in Hide output, but maintain the cross-references, my solution has been to put a very tight cap on the packages that are used when creating a tex document that you know will be converted. This is because a lot of problems with conversion from .tex to .rtf are caused by optional packages and environments that are not supported.

See https://github.com/AndyClifton/AccessibleMetaClass for a demo of a class that gives you a file that can be converted with latex2rtf to .rtf and thus to .docx. Bonus: this class almost(!) gives you a tagged PDF that passes automated testing for tags (the fabled 508 compliance).

• Thanks, looks interesting! I will try it and see if it resolves all the errors with Pandoc I mentioned. One can think of my question as a specification, or unit test. Only answers that pass the test can be accepted. – Fred Jan 6 '15 at 19:22
• @Fred Very likely your question is unanswerable then, since it requires use of a tool to achieve X which is really not designed to do X. tex4ht works fairly well for me, although some clean up is generally needed. And the same recommendations apply about limiting packages carefully. – cfr Aug 26 '15 at 1:17
• pandoc did not work for me for the citations, but latex2rtf -o output.docx input.tex worked like a charm. – Sudipta Basak Sep 28 '15 at 4:19
• Actually, as of November 2017 I switched completely to Pandoc because it's now doing an excellent job of conversion (again, when a limited set of packages are used) compared to latex2rtf. – Andy Clifton Jan 11 '18 at 12:46

LaTeX2rtf is the easiest and fastest way to convert .tex files to .rtf that can be read by Microsoft Word. Using it is as simple as downloading the program, choosing your .tex file, and pressing run. A command window will open up to display the progress and warn of any errors. In most cases the default settings will be sufficient and despite errors it can usually output something useable.

For more information you can find the project on Sourceforge at http://latex2rtf.sourceforge.net/

Best of all, it is open source and actively maintained.

• This program is amazing! Now my supervisor can use Word to edit my paper XD – Kevin Morse Mar 15 '16 at 20:31
• This worked for me. If you are on Mac OSX and using brew, then you can just to brew install latex2rtf and then start using latex2rff. – Obromios Sep 18 '17 at 6:35

Pandoc's LaTeX importer may not handle every input very well, but when you go via Pandoc's markdown format, which maps basically one-to-one to Pandoc's internal document representation, you have precise control over the output.

1. Convert .tex to markdown: pandoc document.tex -o document.md
2. Manually clean up the generated markdown file. Pandoc's extended version of markdown has a surprising number of features, including math, tables, footnotes and citations using .bib files.
3. Convert the markdown to Word: pandoc document.md -o document.docx
• This soltion works almost fine but for the float objects and references. In my case I have to correct them manually thinking about a workflow that eases me to get a final version in latex and another one in Word for the boss. – Aradnix Jun 9 '15 at 18:34
• I couldn't recall that a markdown have page breaks. So it just wouldn't work. – Hi-Angel Jul 28 '15 at 18:59

I write my APA6th papers with LaTeX and export them with all beauty to PDF. Normally this is all I need. Sometimes publisher ask for word files (the reason why I don't know...). So I was on the search to a decent pdf to word converter since simpletex4th has table issues and I need tables a lot. The only converter I am satisfied with is PDF to Word + by Lighten Software Limited for Mac. The docx generated has NO differences from the PDF output and is perfectly editable. This works much better than these tex to xxx converters. http://www.lightenpdf.com/pdf-to-word-converter-mac.html http://www.lightenpdf.com/pdf-to-word-converter.html

• I tried this in demo mode, and it converted each line of a paragraph into its own paragraph. It might work well for tables, but not really usable for a big document, although I guess you could try search/replace... – beroe Jan 6 '15 at 20:13
• The soft doesn't even seems to be real. I tried it with various settings in both stable and dev- wine. It just always crashing for startup. I thought it is a bug in Wine, so I installed WinXP in VirtualBox, and the app still doesn't even starts. – Hi-Angel Jul 27 '15 at 18:18
• I just tried it on a mac and it seemed to work really well. Pretty steep price to purchase, though. – Adam_G Oct 13 '15 at 17:19

I'm not sure you want to read this.

If you are forced to use MS Word for your work then better use Word to write it.

LaTeX typesetting is much better than Word can do. So every conversion from LaTeX to Word will disappoint you about the quality of the conversion---if possible.

Why do you want to do the same "work" two times: first writing your script in LaTeX, later rework completly the word file?

• professor prefers MS word, but I love Latex structure. – selwyndd21 Oct 12 '13 at 1:35
• Sometimes you have to share an editable work to other colleagues that don't use LaTeX... – G M Dec 19 '13 at 11:26
• To the downvoters: Please explain why you downvoted this answer! – Mensch Feb 17 '15 at 11:05
• I'd down vote this because the question is not "I'm thinking of writing a paper, should I use word or LaTeX." The question is "I have written a paper in LaTeX already (maybe years ago). How can I convert it to Word (for some new purpose)?". – rjmunro Apr 20 '15 at 12:33
• I agree with rjmunro: the answer doesn't fit the question. And, plus, some people hate Word that much that they don't what to touch it, including me. – PLG Apr 29 '15 at 10:49

I haven't tried pandoc. There doesn't seem to be a definitive solution. I usually try one of these and see which works. Here is how to convert to Word using tex4ht.

mk4ht oolatex document.tex

This should produce document.odt. You can convert this to Word using OpenOffice.org/LibreOffice. A short tutorial is here. Unfortunately, this may fail for long documents. Another option is to first compile with latex (not pdflatex) and then

latex2rtf document.tex and open document.tex directly in Word.

For long documents, I have had good results by converting the output pdf to Word. There are quite a few pdf to Word converters.[Adobe Acrobat, online converters, of other freeware.] that work pretty well.

• I couldn't get latex2rtf to install (linking problems) on a mac, and the fink version seems to be gone. Thanks though for the quick tutorial on using oolatex, I hadn't realised it was an argument to mk4ht – Joanna Bryson Sep 12 '14 at 13:14

I've found this free online pdf converter to be superior to Word's PDF conversion tool. They both make a mess of equations, but pdf2docx retains document formatting and references much better than Word's conversion tool.

• Noticing that the free converter converts "fi" or "ffi" to blank spaces – ABM Aug 11 '16 at 14:27
• You need to turn off ligatures when creating the PDF from Latex. If you use the microtype package you can include something like \DisableLigatures[Q,q,f,l,t,i]{}. – Alex Trueman May 10 '17 at 15:30
• This tool did pretty satisfactory job with my resume. – Sandeep Nov 8 '17 at 13:45

Indeed, there is almost a perfect way to do so. But you have to pay for that, the solution is Tex2Word. In order to get the best results, firstly you change to the the basic document class, e.g. article and avoid using self-defined styles. If you are using bibtex, then you just copy the content in bbl file to the tex file. Finally, open your tex file with MS Word (Yes! It is so easy!). All the equations, images and cross-references will be translated into MS word! The equations are native MS word equation or MathType rather than images. I would say that there is no better solution now.

• Hmmm, the original question was about conversion from LaTeX to Word using pandoc. – Werner Jan 13 '16 at 1:43

Going via html using the --webtex option may solve your inline maths issue. Won't do anything about cross-referencing (the general case of your issue 5)

You can convert the resulting pdf document to word. That is another option without having to work with the TeX file directly.

• Can you expand more? I do not use word for example and so I do not know how to convert pdf to word format – Romain Picot Feb 22 '16 at 7:56
• Acrobat and some other premium PDF software can do. However, results are usually not very pretty. – mcy Aug 5 '16 at 12:28

All, I am still using the Mac version of Acrobat XI (version 11.0.23 -- but I don't think this matters). It does a very good job of duplicating the LaTeX produced pdf into Word. Does it look as good as the real thing? Noooo. Of course not. But it suffices. BUT, each time I do this, I write a personal note to the journal Editor (both Executive Editor and the Action Editor for my manuscript if these are different people) and explain the beauty and glory of LaTeX while urging them to bring this up with the publisher. Note that OverLeaf now provides a long list of journals that let you submit your .tex and all other necessary files directly from OL (you don't have to think about this, OL does the thinking for you). It works!