I've been trying to switch to LaTeX from Word (with which I have good experience) And I've been disapointed after some days of LaTeX learning and creating.

I like the layout of the report class of LaTeX. And I like its way of organizing informtions, math and bibliography.

But ...

Installation and price :

I won't talk much. Now with MikTeX it's fast. And everybody has Word. The text editor of MikTeX is not good. But that doesn't matter, we can get another. For the price, LaTeX has the big advantage of being free even if everyone has Word nowadays. But this is a good point for LaTeX

Compatibility :

Don't tell me Word can't output PDFs please ... For the rest, Word is only on Windows. That sucks.

LaTeX is multiplatform. That is cool !

Table of Contents, Index, etc ...

The only difference is that instead of a command you need to insert it manually. It doesn't not update automatically on Word. But CTRL + A, then F9 updates it.

You can apply a style far more easily on Word.

Coding :

I've been studying Computer Science. I know HTML, PHP, C++, etc ... So I won't talk about the time I took to master some of the LaTeX concepts.

However, once I want to modify my default LaTeX template, I always end to looking for :

  • A package
  • A command
  • A way to make a simple exemple of the command work
  • A way to modify an existing command in order to make my template be modifyed

This takes times. And has to be repeated for each type of modifications.

I find it much more easier in Word, clicking on the text, modifying it. Clicking the header, change the size, etc ...

Templating :

People say that once a template is made on LaTeX, it's easy to maintain for large documents. Whereas for Word this is not true. I think this is false. Styles in Word is the same as a simple \chapter{} command. And once set (like a preambule command configuration) it stays forever in the document. Just click the list numbers in Word to make it adapt the numbers of the title ...

Clicking on a quick style in Word is the same as writing the appropriate command.

Bad Typography :

Well, this is true but tends to become false. I'm using Calibri so I didn't notice anything at the first place. An attempt with Times New Roman make it obvious. But there are now fonts that accept ligatures in Word I'm using Word 2010 I've made the so famous tests with fi and so one ... things are not that bad. Even in Times New Roman (I'm using Calibri).

Not Real Small Caps :

This is quite nice in LaTeX. I find it cool. But when reading I don't really notice the difference at the first place. I had to read it on the internet to notice it.

Ligatures :

This points goes to LaTeX. I've found it amazing to make glyphs and so one. However, some fonts accept it in Word such as Gabriola or Calibri. So this is true but tends to become false. I'm using Calibri so I didn't notice anything at the first place. An attempt with Times New Roman however made it obvious.

Default template :

Okay, I like the report class. But when I'm writing a report with it. The default template looks like an autobiography. And modifying it is not that fast. Lots of commands. Not that easy. And if I want to modify it again a little. There another that long command.

I've shown my LaTeX template and my Word template to friends. I only used the default titles in Word. I used the TOC of Word and LaTeX. I use the same title numerotation-type. I used the default font on LaTeX and Calibri on Word

80% of the people that I have asked, have told me that they prefer the the default style of Word. However, the other 20%, the people that say the style of LaTeX is so nice, make me think that this is just a matter of recognition, because they have experience with LaTeX.

When you see something that is obviously LaTex, this makes it seem like it is more serious. Even if the content is crap. Just because of the "aura" made by the fact that major scientific works are made in LaTeX.

References :

You can do that in Word. Just click on the appropriate option ...

Tables :

I HATE tables in LaTeX. Took me lot of time to master them (I used table, tabular and longtable).

Numbers displaying :

The acceptation of different height support is also in Word. But the problem is that we need to activate it.

Table of Contents :

There is a slight point there. LaTeX's default TOC is cool. But Word's not bad too.

Template saving :

Just save your word template as you can save a LaTeX template ... where is the problem ????

Grammar Checker :

Well ...

Word becomes slow :

Okay, this is not entirely false. Word tends to become slower. I'm running a 100++ pages document and its slower than LaTeX. But well, once opened its okay.

References, Bibliography :

Well, there I'm shocked. Okay, LaTeX is good. But Word does it just fine. Plus you have a graphic editor ...


Come on ... this is stricly inferior not to see what you have. If my text is in the type of my "Title 1", I'll see it immediately. And I find it far more nice than a command. I'm lost in my LaTeX file if I don't put HUGE comments to separate the sections. Plus you can navigate through sections with the Word explorer.

Long document vs Short document :

This is the point I find most ridiculous. Word is just as good as LaTeX for long documents ... the style is set for the document, you cna concentrate on the contents. About automatic image placement. Even if in the majority of case I need an explicative scheme which I want right under my introduction text. That made me use [h] and its variant a lot.

Scientific Formulas :

Well ... I've been typing my lectures with Word and I can do it real-time ... But I must admit that LaTeX is quite good at it. But I won't say it is superior.

Packages for every purpose :

To end well. This is a point for LaTeX of course. Writing chemistry, music and so one is far more easier than in word.

Well, apart from that. I don't really type music in my Math class. But whatever. For general purpose, I find that Word can be better than LaTeX.

So, that's it ... I'm not really satisfyed.

Is this a bad question ? This is not a question ... well I'm sorry about it ... where could I move it if it's not suitable for this website ? I don't know where to get an answer ...

Update : Bear in mind I assume you are aware of actuality and not using OS that dates from the 70' ... I'm talking about future.

  • 48
    Ex falso, quodlibet ;-) What's the false statement? “Everybody has Word”, of course. I don't have it and haven't since several years.
    – egreg
    Jun 20, 2013 at 8:58
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    After reading like two pages of text, I’m not sure what the question is. Jun 20, 2013 at 9:03
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    Joking aside, this site is for questions about TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and other systems based on the TeX engine. The style of the site is to ask questions that can be answered with objective answers, such as "How do I format my references to comply with this journal's requirements?". At the moment, this reads as a rant and if it stays as a rant it will be closed. As Khaled says, we are not trying to convince you to use LaTeX - or any other derivative. We are trying to help those who are already convinced. Jun 20, 2013 at 9:09
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    What is Word? Jun 20, 2013 at 11:22
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    One thing I would ask is why are you trying to move to LaTeX if you are happy with MS Word. These packages (and others such as libre/open-office, calligra, apple iWork,...) are tools to help you do a task. Moving from one to another for no reason makes no sense. Each of these tools have good and bad points depending on you point of view and each of us here will have different ideas of what these are. Most of us use LaTeX because we, at some point or another found that is solved a problem in a much easier way than other solutions. In the end it is a question of preferences.
    – ArTourter
    Jun 20, 2013 at 12:14

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can do most normal things without problem (and sometimes faster or easier) with Word. But what about slightly "unnormal things"?

As an example: Write a small equation like, e.g., Pythagoras $a^2+b^2=c^2$ in a chapter title -- and then try to get it in an automatically generated ToC and in the PDF bookmarks.

Or try to change the style and the distance of the dots in the toc (imho they are too large and too near to each other in Word).

Or try to add a colored background to a header which stops exactly at text margins.

Or try to adapt the bibliography style of a thesis to some requirement of some department (every department seems to have some special requirements).

LaTeX can offer solutions to all this problems (and solutions for special fields like music or chess) because it doesn't have to squeeze the solutions in some menus or preference dialogs and because it doesn't have to look at some "normal customer" which doesn't want to bother about special problems.

Beside this: LaTeX is simply more fun. Finding a solution for a problem in Word means in most finding where to click. In LaTeX you can write cool code.

A small addition: I own a quite large book (it is actually quite good) about Word 2010 -- it has been typeset with InDesign. I also own quite a lot books about LaTeX -- all have been typeset with LaTeX.

  • 7
    @Xaltar: Sorry in the equation example I didn't meant "header" but chapter title. And I would find it quite natural to put equations is such titles e.g. in a math book. Beside this: If you prefer word then use it. It is not enough that a tool is working well. It must also suit the person using it. E.g. context is in many aspects imho more powerful than latex. But I prefer latex. Jun 20, 2013 at 11:48
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    @Xaltar Consider your audience. You are going to be lacking objectivity. Also, read (this article)[fluff.info/terrible] (the title is a little misleading; it's not a rant). Jun 20, 2013 at 12:27
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    @SeanAllred -- unfortunately, your "link" isn't correct -- 404. sigh. Jun 20, 2013 at 12:59
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    @Xaltar: That new equation editor is based largely on TeX math typesetting algorithms, that is why it is so good. Jun 20, 2013 at 16:01
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    @Xaltar Linked to my previous comment, Word totally lacks (good) support. Hence, the bad habits its users develop. Despite its huge user base, I have yet to see any enthusiastic user. Where is Word.SX? ;)
    – Xavier
    Jul 28, 2013 at 19:12

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