My supervisor often wants to edit my papers, so he frequently asks for word version of the paper. I tried latex2rtf, but it is very limited in terms of packages and customized commands. I asked a similar question and found a related answer. However, every time I look to my beautiful LaTeX PDF, before conversion to Word, I think that why we cannot just edit the title from the output???

Currently LaTeX editors (like TeXStudio, TeXMaker,etc) provide an integrated PDF viewer which provide preview of the compiled document. I always think that if we have an interactive document viewer that identifies different fields like title, paragraph,... and when user double clicks on a field, a new small window opens with the text in it. After user completes his/her revision, LaTeX runs to do typesetting of the new document.


Is there any PDF professional viewer which can be linked and used with LaTeX to improve the experience of the word people in using LaTeX??

For example, many professional pdf viewers like Acrobat Pro, Nitro, Phantom PDF can edit the text in PDF files. I think If we could link the PDF viewer and the LaTeX editor together in the way that edits in a paragraph of a PDF file can be sent backward to tex file. Then we can compile the the TeX file to apply the changes.

Edit1: Current versions of TeXstudio and TeXmaker can highlight the current position of cursor in yellow for few seconds. There is a link between in the TeX source, and Preview. I wish that we can have the the reversed link.

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    This isn't really a question on TeX format or typesetting system - while I find it to be a decent question, it's not a good fit for our Q/A format and is likely to be closed. Perhaps send out feelers in chat instead? Otherwise, edit your question to potentially ask for the (hypothetical) name of such software. Commented May 13, 2013 at 2:23
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    Possible duplicate of Seeking review on a document with people unfamiliar with TeX and Linked Q's. Please refer to Charles Stewart's answer. Suggestion: Two options either convince others or convince yourself in collaboration( part of compromise with word users). Atleast latex typography will be far better than others. Edit :Interactive PDF viewer may have more practical problems than solutions i suppose for colloboration. Commented May 13, 2013 at 2:28
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    Try to get review on the file only when you are really ready. Before then, talk(!) to your supervisor, and get him to write on a printout of the paper. Then, when you are both ready, invest time in converting with Latex2rtf or pandoc, which do a very good job on simple tex documents. Don't forget you can produce two PDFs from one tex document by using the \input command to insert your content into the journal's tex file, and your own simpler \article class. The version produced using \article should work with latex2rtf or pandoc. You can specify replacement commands with \iflatex2rtf. Commented May 13, 2013 at 4:01
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    PDF with annotations. Commented May 13, 2013 at 4:27
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    @antmw1361 you can set up forward and backward searching with synctex. This way you can right click the area in the pdf and it opens to that portion of the tex document for editing. Just save and compile.
    – dustin
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 2:26

5 Answers 5


If your supervisor does absolutely insist on Word as Editor there is little you can do. However, if it is more the "Word-like user experience" (as opposed to "LaTeX source code user experience"), LyX might be a considerable compromise for the both of you!

LyX is a "WYSIWYW" (What You See is What You Want) text processing system that uses LaTeX as back-end. LyX has a user interface that is close enough to "normal applications" so that "normal users" are able to use it effectively. You can also insert LaTeX commands directly for quick math editing or when a certain feature is not available in LyX.

Regarding interoperability with LaTeX: LyX uses LaTeX as back end, so you can always get from LyX -> LaTeX. However, the internal document format is different. For the LaTeX -> LyX route the converter scripts work pretty well with the standard classes, but may require some manual overwork if you use many own macros or "fancy stuff". So LyX should not be considered as a generic round-trip LaTeX Editor like TeXShop or vim. However, all this works a lot better than any LaTeX -> RTF/OO/DOC/HTML -> LaTeX route.

The main point, which in my experience is the "killer feature" that makes supervisors prefer Word, is that LyX has a built-in change tracking system. I used it quite a bit when sending my thesis to people for proof-reading and it was a pleasure for them to do edits and for me to integrate (or reject) their suggestions.

Lyx with change tracking

It's also possible to have mark-ups for the changes in the PDF output:

PDF with change tracking

A subtle side point is that, by using LyX, your supervisor or other coworker immediately gets the LaTeX typesetting experience. For me, this has been a pretty successful path towards the long-term conversion of TeX-illiterate coworkers to LaTeX.

  • Are you sure that is a real LyX feature not just calling another command line utility? That looks like latexdiff Perl script? Commented May 15, 2013 at 12:02
  • @PredragPunosevac: Yes I am. The highlighting is already in the LaTeX code generated by LyX.
    – Daniel
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 18:58
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    @LostBrit: I have written about a dozen journal papers (Springer, Elsevier, IEEE, ACM, ...) with LyX and never experienced any problems with the exported LaTeX code. Also LyX does nothing to your TeX source – it does not touch it at all! Recall that LyX should not be considered as a LaTeX editor. LyX is just able to import LaTeX code in many cases, but it manages and stores its own document format and forgets about your TeX code immediately. When you export from LyX to LaTeX, everything is generated.
    – Daniel
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 20:58
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    @LostBrit Have you seen what journal offices do to your manuscript under the hood? :) You would never submit anything if you would know.
    – percusse
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 18:55
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    @percusse At least a few of the proofs I've had look like they printed out my manuscript, kicked it around on the floor, shuffled the pages and then faxed it to the other side of the world where it was put through OCR into word, before being converted back into 'tex. I've done this enough now that I at least have a template for the "Dear typesetting folks, what did you do to my paper?" letter Commented May 22, 2013 at 15:40

Is there any PDF professional viewer which can be linked and used with LaTeX to improve the experience of the word people in using LaTeX?

You may like to have a look at BaKoMa TeX Word; a Visual (True WYSIWYG) LaTeX Editor. This stand-alone software is not free though.

BaKoMa TeX Word - a Visual (True WYSIWYG) LaTeX Editor

Another option, is the online LaTeX editor ShareLaTeX, a truly collaborative cloud solution, now with version control. Using this, there is a chance your supervisor will quickly learn LaTeX himself! enter image description here

Similar to the above is Authorea, a spin-off of Harvard University. It also supports a subset of Markdown. (Full Pandoc Markdown support would be preferable though.) Cross-editing between LaTeX and Markdown is not possible; one must at document creation. Authorea

  • I tried BaKoMa and liked it, but it's not free.
    – antmw1361
    Commented May 26, 2013 at 0:24
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    The other problem with BaKoMa is that it appears to be a single-person programming venture. For a single user this poses no problem. However, basing the publishing workflow of a whole organisation on this, may be too risky. Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 11:42

use TeX2Word and Word2TeX. There is a 30-day Evaluation

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    I don't think this answers the OP's request for a way to work directly with the PDF from the original files. But, if conversion to word is a way that the OP decides to pursue, he should read the much more detailed answers about converting to word in tex.stackexchange.com/questions/4145/…. Commented May 18, 2013 at 20:52

You can theoretically edit pdf document with PDFedit the way you described in your question. Before you get too excited let me point out that PDF is a very complex format designed for publishing output, not for any further modifications. PDF unlike its close cousin PostScript programming language is not human readable nor programmable (although PostScript files are mostly machine produced it is theoretically (I have done that practically without help of PSTricks) possible to program pictures and even animations, moreover the language is Turing complete). Acroread (free version) can be used to fill in PDF forms. That is a different thing than editing PDF files. If I recall correctly Acrobat has a paid version which can be used to create those PDF forms. I think we paid one of those full versions of Acroread at the University of Arizona six-seven years ago over $1000 (that is with all university discounts). The full version can not edit pdf file in a way your described.

So what a hack is PDFedit? It is a low-level tool for technical users that provides structured access to the internal structure of the PDF file. It claims to fame is GUI. It works as described and I tried it but I have no use for it. I am much more familiar with similar non GUI tool PDFtk. Neither of these tools when used to "edit" PDF files are very user friendly. Unless somebody is paying you to repair broken PDF files I would not be waisting my time with them.

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    Absolutely: 'writing in PDF' is working at the wrong level.
    – jon
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 3:05
  • To be honest, this is not what I'm looking for.
    – antmw1361
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 7:43
  • @antmw1361 I am not really sure than what are you looking for. If you are looking for the tool which will take you back from the PDF viewer into the source file and vise verse that is trivial. That is called inverse and direct search. Any editor which works in server mode can do that. Commented May 15, 2013 at 12:05

Pandoc Markdown

Nowadays, I would just recommend the whole team to learn Markdown, which is pretty easy. (Here is a nice little Markdown advocacy article for use in corporate settings.)

Team members can then use whatever plain text editor they personally like. Personally, I prefer Vim! Because of the plain text files, distributed revision control using Hg Mercurial or git can easily be implemented. An other option is to employ one of the many online collaborative plain text editors, if secrecy is not an issue.

Have Pandoc then convert the content to a LaTeX PDF, a ConTeXt PDF, Microsoft Word or XHTML.

Pandoc's built-in templates are easily customised to add a bit of corporate identity. With a Pandoc workflow, content remains clearly separated from format. This reduces procrastination induced by tinkering with formatting. With Pandoc Markdown, LaTeX, apart from its math, gets reduced to essentially a templating language; which is not a bad thing.

Personally, I obtained best results with converting Markdown using Pandoc to XHTML and then apply unattended CSS typesetting using Prince to obtain the final document in PDF, without any user intervention. A GNU makefile can completely automate this process and catch any exceptions with sed.

This can be seen in action on my personal website. Source files are provided over there.

  • How do you handle references and plots (like those you do with TikZ) with Markdown? Can you insert snippets of LaTeX code that Pandoc then takes care of for the things that Markdown doesn't support natively? What if you're submitting to a conference or journal that requires the articles to follow a certain format? Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 14:40

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