Are there any professional alternatives to TeX/LaTeX which produce equal or even better typesetting? Maybe expensive commercial ones. The software counts if it is comparable or superior to LaTeX (with microtype) in typesetting text or math (or both). In any case, please mention both aspects in your answer.

I am only aware of ConTeXt (which is partly based on TeX).

Note that I am not looking for an alternative for my personal use, I am just asking out of curiosity.

  • 7
    Without making any comparisons, there is Adobe inDesign
    – Scott H.
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 19:20
  • 14
    @ScottH. -- to the best of my knowledge, indesign doesn't (yet?) handle math. Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 19:26
  • 3
    @barbarabeeton: But there is a plugin named MathMagic for Adobe InDesign to handle math. Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 19:55
  • 6
    There is an interesting comparison LaTeX vs. InDesign (but a bit old): zinktypografie.nl/latex.php?lang=en
    – student
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 20:06
  • 6
    I tried MathMagic plugin with inDesign. It was terrible. It is just like using the equation editor with Word. Has to go through loops to finally enter an equation. One equation. That is it. After 10 minutes of using it, I uninstalled the whole thing, and also uninstalled indesign (was trial version). With no direct Latex support inside indesign, I mean direct support, indesign will never make it in science, math and engineering. Ok for magazines and articles. Nothing more.
    – Nasser
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 7:10

18 Answers 18


You asked for professional solutions. Several top technical journals, including I believe Physical Review Letters and Nature magazine, use Advanced Print Publisher (APP), also known as Advent 3B2. Formerly available from Arbortext but now from PTC.

It can definitely handle mathematics, and I'm sure it deals with typographic details such as ligatures and microtype-like tweaks. I believe the main strength over tex is that it makes complete document production very automated. Things like dealing with floats (tables and figures) in a more-automatic way than tex, and giving manual controls to override it.

I haven't used it, however. (standard desktop version starts at US$5000-10000 as of January 2015). The wikipedia page has a little information.

  • 74
    45,000 dollars? I wonder if they have student version?
    – Nasser
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 9:33
  • 3
    Does Advanced Print Publisher relate to LaTeX? I ask because I know submissions to Phys. Rev. Letters can be given in LaTeX (with the revtex package). Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 23:23
  • 8
    @mrc More likely if you submit in LaTeX, they send it to some developing country to re-type everything from scratch.
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 19:39
  • 1
    @yo' that would introduce many typos (in any country). I have seen myself submitting in TeX and getting edited documents (with punctuation and grammar corrections from the editor) very much like MSWord tracked changes that would be (or was) very difficult to do with LaTeX. I guess they have a battery of (human monitored) conversion tools. LaTeX <-> Word <-> Expensive proprietary system <-> LaTeX. The final quality is always pretty good in any case and it is hard to believe it is not LaTeX. I am talking about Physical Review here. There are other journals that obviously use only or mostly LaTeX
    – alfC
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 21:20
  • It also uses Plain TeX concept for math...
    – MadyYuvi
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 14:54

I truly believe nothing comes close to TeX (and Friends, e.g. LaTeX, ConTeXt) when it comes to output quality.

Other DTP programs such as Indesign (Adobe), QuarkXPress (Quark) or Scribus (open source) offer a graphical interface and hence an easier learning curve, but they don't match up in terms of quality. Amongst many, let me just point the two most obvious quality advantages of TeX:

Math typesetting

Typesetting maths correctly is very complex (symbols need to adjust in size, spaces are very specific, etc.), and only TeX gets it right. There are probably even better examples, but try obtaining something like the following in InDesign:

math typesetting

Line and page breaking

Tex's algorithm is very complex and takes into account possible hyphens, widows, orphans, etc. to produce an output that is more elegant.

The best showcase of this I have found is a comparison posted by Roel Zinkstok of Zink Typography, reproduced below. On the comparison, Roel indicated with red dots lines with inter-word spacing that is out of proportion, a cardinal sin for typography, while the red circles indicate hyphens, which should be minimized:

line breaking

  • 6
    @mozartstraße More precisely, the red dots represents the lines with inter-word spacing (IWS) larger than 9pt. The count is reflected in the table below the showcase.
    – Xavier
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 21:36
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    It also looks as though the pdfTeX output was made without the help of the microtype package.
    – jon
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 22:48
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    @ach You are probably thinking of the comments to this answer. The proof (as I would claim) that it's not a fair comparison can be found here, which shows the result with tex's default settings on the first page and then increasing tweaks to mimic the example. @jon Actually, I do not think this output is achieved by using microtype but rather by allowing spaces to stretch and shrink much more than tex would normally permit (being as fussy as it is on this point).
    – Robert
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 23:12
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    @student: Adobe has stated openly (and in typeset form ;-) ) that InDesign uses precisely Knuth's linebreaking algorithms (per paragraph as opp. to per line). I have not used InDesign myself seriously, but from what I've seen done with it, I think it is a great typesetting system (ranking high together with QuarkXpress). Moreover, in this site there has been some discussion on grid-oriented typesetting design; maybe in this regard InDesign even ranks higher than TeX-based systems (not for lack of design excellence in TeX, but simply because it was not conceived with such a scenario in mind).
    – Marcos
    Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 18:06
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    @Marcos Most commercial products use a Knuth-Plass-like algorithm, which usually mean they remove constraints to speed it up. Adobe even went as far as to apparently patent theirs... (don't get my started on stupid math / software patents). Regarding grid typesetting, it is actually quite simple in TeX, just not in LaTeX. Watch Jean-Luc Doumont's "Quantum spaces: Designing pages on grids" presentation if you want to know more.
    – Xavier
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 0:26

A shameless plug: We are offering a professional typesetter (though open source) which is based on LuaTeX. If it is "equal or even better" than LaTeX is surely subjective.

Our focus is to bring the DTP world to automatic typesetting (database publishing). For example we have

  • master pages based on arbitrary conditions
  • text flow based on "frames"
  • multi page tables including subtotals and repeating tablehead and tablefoot
  • easy to install/use fonts
  • grid based layout/typesetting
  • ...

While TeX / LaTeX is focused on text documents (with or without math) our main application area is product catalogs, price lists and other documents that are created automatically from databases but have flexible and nice layouts.


I'd like to invite everyone to try out or perhaps work on the software. Development never ends (as usual).

  • I'm intrigued by the grid-based support and text flowing. These are both regarded as 'hard' problems with TeX-based systems. How general are your solutions (in broad terms: not looking for anything commercially-sensitive)?
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 16:04
  • @JosephWright hard to discuss this in a comment... I believe your question is along the lines: "can we take the approach and throw it at LaTeX"? I'd say no, since I almost completely leave the TeX world. For example I save the text blocks and reformat them on demand (for example if columns are of different widths or of I need a parshape in the second column).
    – topskip
    Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 16:10
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    I wish I could get feedback for the downvote! Too much advertisement? (Hey, it's open source, so you can use it). Not a good answer? (I think it matches the question.) It would be nice if the downvoter could explain why this answer is a bad answer.
    – topskip
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 11:13
  • On 'generality' I was thinking for example that there are a few approaches to grid typesetting in TeX, but most (all?) have limitations, often related to display or math mode material. So I was wondering how generally you've been able to deal with this.
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 11:36
  • @JosephWright I have an invisible grid in the background with height of the grid cells of \baselineskip of the text font. Every object is placed in the grid (and thus integer multiple of \baselineskip from the top). There is still much to do but I will for example include an invisible "adjust to grid" marker that goes to the next cell. This part is currently under development.
    – topskip
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 11:46

Troff should definitely be mentioned for its simplicity. I normally use LaTeX for all my documents, but for some special cases (e.g. user manuals) troff (or its GNU version groff) is just the simpler way. It can also handle math using the preprocessing tool eqn. A nice comparison between troff and LaTeX can be found here.

  • 1
    I just realised that the link I provided for the comparison actually is a macro package for groff which the author claims makes it comparable to LaTeX. I think I just found something to do for the weekend :)
    – WJahn
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 8:14
  • 1
    Nice find! Can be a nice alternative to LaTeX for good looking automatically generated documents. Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 8:26
  • 1
    fyi, from wiki, troff can trace its origins back to a text formatting program called RUNOFF . see RUNOFF en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RUNOFF RUNOFF was the first computer text formatting program to see significant use.
    – Nasser
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 21:42
  • I used ditroff to typeset my thesis. And I believe groff has taken over some of $\TeX$ line-handling and math formatting techniques, so it should be comparable for text at least. But overall a troff document feels like assembler to $\LaTeX$' more structured approach. Lerned $'LaTeX$, and never looked back.
    – vonbrand
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 17:57
  • 1
    +1 for recommending Troff. For sophisticated typesetting, Heirloom Troff is a much better choice than Groff, offering support for microtypography, proper support for OpenType features, improved hyphenation, and - most importantly, native support for Type 1 fonts, TrueType and OpenType. Definitely a formidable contender with TeX for complex, accurate typesetting.
    – user141195
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 17:45

GNU TeXMacs is a WYSIWYG scientific structured document editor and typesetter. It used to require a TeX distribution but now it does not.

Here is a list of not so widely known typesetting systems that I found googling around, mostly work-in-progress (or work-used-to-be-in-progress):

  • cl-typesetting is written in Common Lisp, which implies that its markup language is also Common Lisp. (Macro language, anyone?)

  • The Z format looks like HTML, but is not.

  • Platypus commands look like [list|bullet:{rarrow}] . Written in Java.

  • Patoline, written in OCaml. Also handles SQL bibliography databases, and comes with Bibi, a bibfile to SQL converter written in Haskell. (The developers seem to be really keen on functional languages.) You have to build it from source. Commands look like a mixture of TeX, OCaml and new markup:

    (* #FORMAT FormatArticle *)
    \begin{genumerate}(AlphaLower, fun s -> [tT (s^". ")])
    \item First item
    \item Second item
    $$ a + b $$
    $ a + b $
      let dr ()=
        [bB (fun _->
          [Drawing (drawing [Path (default,[rectangle (0.,0.) (10.,10.)])])]

    Note that I have no idea if this code works, I just copied together parts of the manual.

  • SILE (Simon's Improved Layout Engine) is written in Lua and uses the Harfbuzz shaping engine. It can typeset any XML input but also provides an input syntax similar to that of LaTeX:

    \begin[class=book,papersize=129mm x 198mm]{document}
    \left-running-head{A Scandal in Bohemia}
    \right-running-head{\hfill{}Alexander Conan Doyle}
    \headline{A Scandal In Bohemia}
    \noindent To Sherlock Holmes she is always \em{the woman}.
    \footnote{Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.}
    \begin[family=Snell Roundhand]{font}
    Consequetur adipiscing elit.
  • Rinohtype, written in Python. The input format is reStructuredText. See an example input file.

Maybe more to come.

  • 1
    AFAIK, TeXmacs was never based on TeX; it uses various TeX algorithms but they are implemented independent of TeX. It uses TeX fonts, though, so that might be why it needed a TeX distribution in the past. Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 22:49
  • Nice edit, I searched for this just to add it :) But it seems that you already added it.
    – Manuel
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 21:28
  • 3
    This Patoline thing looks promising, in case of active development. It can provide better error messages than TeX/LaTeX, due to types and safety checking. Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 13:16
  • The Patoline manual has not been available for about half a year (patoline.org/patobook.pdf), apparently because of a bug in Patoline, sadly. Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 16:26
  • Came back after using Texmacs: it is absolutely amazing for students who need to just do some homework (it's probably good for a lot of other things too). It needs little setup, has an intuitive and WYSIWYG interface design, and it just...works. Definitely better than going through LaTex esp. if you're in a pinch.
    – hLk
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 9:54

I have recently discovered an awesome system Typst which is on par with LaTex with regard to typesetting quality, but superior in other aspects, i.e.,

  1. previews your changes instantly.
  2. has a consistent styling system for configuring everything from fonts and margins to the look of headings and lists.
  3. easily collaborate in teams.
  4. uses familiar programming constructs instead of hard-to-understand macros.
  5. provides clear, understandable error messages.

You can watch a demo on the website https://typst.app/ to see points 1, 2, 3. Point 4 is illustrated by

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

Some side information, i.e.,

  • Typst is funded by the Technical University of Berlin, the State of Berlin, and the European Union (through the European Social Funds). With such sponsors, it already has a promising future.

  • The authors have opened source the Typst compiler. They will open a public CTAN-like registry of Typst packages and templates down the road.

  • The public beta will be released on March 21, 2023.

  • The Discord server is https://discord.gg/2uDybryKPe. The authors are very supportive in answering your questions.

  • 2
    Will this be free for "ever"?
    – projetmbc
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 20:51
  • 3
    @projetmbc The authors will open source the Typst complier, so I guess it's free forever...
    – Akira
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 21:00
  • 4
    @projetmbc The authors has opened source Typst. Please see here.
    – Akira
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 18:26
  • 3
    To be fair with Overleaf collaborating on LaTeX is possible too.
    – user202729
    Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 1:51
  • 5
    Re-reading this, Typst typesetting quality is not yet on par with LaTeX. There are a few issues left e.g. github.com/typst/typst/issues/439
    – user202729
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 15:21

First, add XyVision to the list of proprietary batch composition competitors.

Here's a bit of commentary I wrote up a couple of years ago, which still applies. It's also on the ConTeXt wiki.


Using a typesetting tool isn't like being a prisoner selecting a tool to dig their way out, it's more akin to being a galley slave....


  • using Quark is like being chained to an oar which is covered w/ splinters and mostly broken at the other end and which will randomly break due to being poorly carved (Quark has crashed on me 183 times this year) leaving one adrift or run aground, or sometimes returning the vessel to its starting point (a few of those crashes have resulted in unrecoverable document corruption --- my autobackup folder may contain 2 or 3 GBs of files for a given iteration of a particular project each month) --- the oar can be smoothed somewhat and reinforced (by purchasing or finding XTensions, using XTags &c.) and periodically one is required to purchase a new oar (sometimes just after the previous one has been customized adequately). For some tasks, one can impress any graphic designer as a galley slave to ease the effort for others, but while charts are available, there are no automagic navigation options and every journey must be manually piloted.

  • using InDesign is pretty much the same except the oar is smoother and stronger (it's crashed 29 times on me thus far this year), there aren't as many customization options and it's not quite as easy to find a candidate for impressment (though soon it'll be as easy as for Quark). Charts are available, but again, piloting is strictly manual.

  • using Plain TeX one has to craft the vessel's oar oneself (as well as the rest of the vessel unless one is typesetting a clone of The TeXbook), but it's as sturdy and as nice a one as one's skills allow and can even be an engine which moves the vessel in and of itself --- it can be difficult or impossible to find people suitable to help w/ either carving the oar or using it though, but once a given journey is worked out, the oar becomes magical and rows for itself except for when one runs into an unplanned for obstacle (the navigation charts are old ones and not often up-dated, with a lot of ``terra incognita''), allowing one an auto-pilot option for certain journeys, dependent upon one's skill.

  • using ePlain, an oar is provided, can be customized, and can be enchanted and the charts are okay, but have a lot of ``terra incognita'' on them.

  • using LaTeX, an oar is provided and there're lots of nifty customizations and improvements already available, and one can impress additional oars from CTAN, however on a semi-random basis, adding one oar will break other oars, sometimes leaving one adrift or run aground. One can enchant a set of oars to accomplish a given journey, easing the piloting requirement, and the navigation charts are decent and obstacles are fairly well-known.

  • using ConTeXt, a very nice oar is provided, which has lots of customization options, but the navigational charts aren't easily read by a traditionally trained navigator at first, although they are fairly compleat and most journeys can be carefully worked out, but once one is, it is quite automatic and there's a good auto-pilot option.

  • 7
    your quotes around terra incognita give away your preference :P
    – percusse
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 23:33
  • 3
    +1 for style: certainly puts LaTex in context better than the usual table-of-features-I-then-need-to-look-up.
    – WillC
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 6:32

A new alternative is Patoline, which is still in an early development stage but the goal is to be a modern digital typesetting system.

As for the LaTeX compatibility one can describe the Patoline compiler as

Obviously, a related (but much smaller) project is the Patoline compiler, which compiles a mixed Wiki/LaTeX/Ocaml syntax into a variety of output formats, including traditional PDF files, but also web servers that deliver dynamic contents, synchronized for instance with a talk.

The documentation includes a PhD thesis and a description of the syntax which was produced using Patoline, and which looks to me as an amateur in typesetting pretty good:

enter image description here

  • However, Patoline has many flaws that make it very hard to use at the moment. As well, it introduces some concepts that I don't quite like. I wonder if Xavier and his collaborators manage to make it as tweakable as TeX is, in the sense that any feature it has has to be tunable, and in particular, easy to disable.
    – yo'
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 14:03
  • 3
    @tohecz: I have unfortunately not found the time to try it out myself. Still, I am hoping for an alternative to LaTeX which keeps the good features but replaces the 'programming language' with something more reasonable. LuaTeX is definitely a step in the right direction.
    – Alexander
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 13:37
  • 3
    That's another point: OCaml doesn't look like a good choice...
    – yo'
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 14:08
  • sorry I used the wrong name in the 1st comment, the main developer is of course Pierre-Etienne, not Xavier.
    – yo'
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 14:13

While LaTeX is the markup language of choice in many scientific and scholarly circles (especially in the fields of mathematics, computer science, physics, and astronomy), some scholars are starting to write papers using new markup languages tailored for the web. Markdown is one of them. It is very versatile and it can be easily extended to satisfy the needs of scientific writing. The advantage of using Markdown (or similar) instead of LaTeX is that we are writing on the web more than ever. Thus, it makes sense to use a web native typesetting format. For those who would like to use both Markdown and Latex on the web, Authorea (full disclosure, I am a co-founder) is an online social authoring platform that allows articles to be edited in both formats simultaneously. Authorea also renders and compiles LaTeX and MathML equations to the web, in addition to PDF.

  • 4
    LaTeX is not only markup but also typesetting. And welcome to TeX.sx! Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 22:56
  • Welcome to TeX.sx! That platform looks quite intriguing, indeed. Do you have any relationship to the company that runs it (apart from being a user)?
    – Jake
    Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 1:31
  • hi Jake- yes I am the co-founder of Authorea (and a user, since I still write papers in Astronomy + Information Science). We have a couple of thousand users and the vast majority of them writes in LaTeX. Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 15:44
  • @user32799: Thanks for the reply. When posting an answer promoting a product you're affiliated with, that affiliation should be disclosed (see tex.stackexchange.com/help/behavior). Could you edit your post to include that information?
    – Jake
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 20:50
  • hi Jake- I just updated my .sx profile information with my affiliation. Thanks! Commented Jun 29, 2013 at 21:02

TeX and friends maybe still the best. There are some alternative and results are various. I do not really use any of them, but kind of know there existence.

  • 2
    Another one: asciidoc
    – qunying
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 23:34
  • 2
    there was also chi-writer. no longer around. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ChiWriter
    – Nasser
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 23:44
  • 3
    ANT is an impressive codebase, especially the support they have for OTF. Also, the embedded scripting languages is a huge win. Unfortunately it depends on archaic versions of libraries and the language, so it won’t build on current systems. The most recent post on their mailing list is from 2010 so I guess it could be considered unmaintained. Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 9:10
  • 4
    I'm really interested in whether Lout and Ant have ever been used. Can you give examples/sample output if there's any? (Apart from their respective user manuals, of course.) I'm also interested in their "stories", why they are unmaintained, what happened with the author, etc.
    – marczellm
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 8:37
  • Follow the example in Lout's user manual will do. Lout is still under development, it just released 3.40. Jeffrey (the author) does not use source version control. But you could always look at the mailing list, it is a low volume list but active. He plan his next typesetting engine Nonpareil, but seems not much news yet. Main drawback that Lout doesn't support unicode. Not sure about ANT.
    – qunying
    Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 17:23

As long as you don't need mathematical typesetting, you actually can find better than TeX with Heirloom Documentation Tools. Not only does it provide Knuth's algorithm for formatting paragraphs; it also allows to compute spacing by mixing three systems (interletters spacing, interwords spacing, imperceptible change in the shapes of the glyphs). Thus you can work with constant space between words! Selecting a font among various kinds of fonts is much easier and quicker than with TeX. I have been using it for years while my colleagues use LaTeX; they wouldn't have the idea to only think their documents can be on a par with mine. If you are interested in typography, then Heirloom version of troff is definitely the way to do.

edit: Since I first wrote this answer, it looks like new pieces of software have appeared. I just heard about utroff which seems to come from Heirloom troff; I will very certainly have a look at it and probably use it now because Heirloom troff doesn't seem to be actively maintained and may be difficult to compile.


I recently found this page: https://www.texfaq.org/FAQ-alternatives

Which lists:

Active projects

  • Patoline

Patoline is a typesetting system written in OCaml and using a mix of TeX-like syntax and “escape” to OCaml to provide typesetting control. Patoline aims for a module design, and fast numerical processing.

SILE is a typesetting system written in Lua and using the HarfBuzz font shaper. It’s input syntax is somewhat inspired by LaTeX, for example

\begin{document} Hello SILE! \end{document}

is a valid SILE document (notice the lack of a preamble here).

  • Speedata Publisher

Speedata Publisher is like SILE written in Lua, but uses LuaTeX (not pure Lua) to provide the “back-end”. This means it does feature a tiny TeX-based wrapper, but once that has handed over to Lua, TeX is not involved. Speedata Publisher is particularly well-suited to some areas in which TeX is less successful, for example more image-rich documents. -Lout

Lout is a batch document formatter invented by Jeffrey H. Kingston. It reads a high-level description of a document similar in style to LaTeX Lout copies some of its formatting algorithms from TeX but uses a high-level functional programming language, instead of a macro language as its customisation language. Lout has never had the user base of LaTeX, but is still maintained and was released around the same time as LaTeX2e in the early 1990’s.

  • troff/nroff/groff

groff The *roff family of typesetters pre-date TeX and influenced its design. They have always been distributed as part of Unix and Unix-like systems such as linux. Most notably man pages are typeset with this system.

Historical projects

  • The ANT typesetting system

The open source software TUSTEP is developed and used at the German university of Tübingen and is apparently mostly used for

  • "literary / critical editing"
  • "bibliographies, indexes, dictionaries, encyclopedias"

(copied from the project webpage http://www.tustep.uni-tuebingen.de/tustep_eng.html). The pdf manual seems to by typeset with TUSTEP and Ghostscript.

The software seems to be operational since 1971 if I understood an ai translation of http://www.itug.de/index.php?id=58 correctly. The most recent version apparently was published in 2022.

I have never used the software and I do not personally know anybody who uses it.


Another alternative to LaTeX is OpTeX. It runs with LuaTeX.


Pollen, written in Racket (of the Lisp family). The primary focus is web-based typography (and no math so far), but it can also support other formats such as pdf.


R Markdown runs on the TeX distribution when using kntr to create PDFs. But, to type in it requires less code memorization since R produces default YAML headers when you load up a new document.

  • 3
    It doesn't provide better typesetting, since TeX does the typesetting. It doesn't provide equal typesetting, because it provides less control on the output than typing in TeX. Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 15:03

Scientific Word can be another alternative software for scientists: http://www.mackichan.com/index.html?products/sw.html~mainFrame

The company behind this software is MacKichan Software, Inc., and went out of business on July 1, 2021 (http://www.mackichan.com/index.html?products/sw.html~mainFrame):

Sales have ceased for Scientific WorkPlace, Scientific Word, and Scientific Notebook

MacKichan Software, Inc., after providing word processing software for those who speak the language of mathematics for forty years (under several names), closed its doors on June 30, 2021. This marks the end of sales and support for the MacKichan Software products.

All owners of Scientific WorkPlace, Scientific Word, or Scientific Notebook should have a serial number that was included in their purchase. This number is also included in the license file for your installation as the last line in the file. If you need to install your software on a new or different computer, you will need to re-activate the software on that computer using that serial number. The software can be activated as before, using the Help/Activate menu item. This contacts the MacKichan Software licensing server, which we will keep running for at least two years.

Thirty-day trials of all of our products are discontinued. Trial serial numbers will no longer work to activate the software.

Sites with permanent site licenses will, of course, be free to use Scientific WorkPlace, Scientific Word, and/or Scientific Notebook as long as they like. Those sites that have paid for maintenance with home-use satellite licenses can continue, but will be unable to create new satellite licenses after their maintenance agreement expires.

We expect to make Scientific Word an open source product eventually. Since both Scientific WorkPlace and Scientific Notebook contain the proprietary computer algebra system MuPAD, they cannot be made open source. When the open source project for Scientific Word is established, an announcement will be made here.

We hope to make version 5.5 of Scientific Word available in the future. It currently contains several components that are licensed and not owned by MacKichan Software. These components need to be removed, and our intention is then to make Scientific Word version 5.5 open source.

Barry MacKichan President MacKichan Software, Inc.

July 1, 2021

The latest released version of these products is 6.1.2. To update your program to the latest release, click here. The same page also contains links to the installers for version 5.5 and the manuals for versions 5.5 and 6.

  • 4
    Scientific Word comprises a TeX distribution along with a quasi-WYSIWYG front end. The code it generates is (mostly) LaTeX. I'm thus doubtful that Scientific Word can be considered a alternative to LaTeX. Separately, the software hasn't seen an upgrade in years and years. The current version, numbered 5.5, has been around since at least 2007 (and probably even longer). A software package that's been around essentially unchanged for more than seven years is functionally obsolete, I'm afraid.
    – Mico
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 17:22
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    @Gaussler - I'm no good at linguistic quibbles. Can't vouch for what "standard" terminology may be. All I can hope for is that I've clarified what I meant to say.
    – Mico
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 15:25
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    @Gaussler 3 months is forever? Details.
    – cfr
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 1:20
  • 2
    @mico Version 6 of Scientific Word has been released quite recently; I'm sure the long-suffering users of SW were jubilant. It turned out that Version 6 of SW was a disaster and huge failure. So much so that the whole company went bankrupt about 2 years ago. They changed to using XML and spend 8 years and could not make it work. V 5.5 was great. But the company was stupid and decided to change to XML.
    – Nasser
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 8:02
  • 2
    @Nasser - Indeed, while users' hopes, back in 2015, for Version 6 of SWP were very high initially, these hopes were quickly, and bitterly, disappointed.
    – Mico
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 11:35

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) has been evolved to cover many aspects of typesetting and book publishing. Modern browsers already did the heavy lifting part and with the aid of JavaScript publishing can be done in browser.

https://vivliostyle.org/ is a FOSS project that uses CSS + HTML to publish pretty books, and provides both decent math typesetting capabilities via MathML and vertical writing comparable to what pTeX could provide.

There are other CSS publishing tools and they are listed on https://www.print-css.rocks/tools with showcase available. While their coverage on CSS standards, vendor provided features, prices, and typesetting qualities are all different, some of them are also worth mentioning because in my opinion they also provide equal typesetting quality.

Antenna­house sells the XSL-FO formatter which also supports a good amount of CSS specification, that is used by O’Reilly Media to publish books. The formatter has good multilingual and MathML typesetting support. (The other commercial XSL-FO formatter XEP from RenderX, although it can also produce pretty looking books, does not seem to have math support, so not listed here)

PrinceXML supports a much wider range of CSS standards and has just enough JavaScript support to run MathJax3 (or KaTeX) to get prettier than native MathML result.

Disclaimer on equal typesetting: If taking the mind-blowing Hz and protruding extension implemented by pdfTeX into account, then neither of those mentioned in current answer at current state exceeds or even come to close TeX’s typesetting quality in my honest opinion, but to my knowledge neither do most other typesetting engines except a few the most experimental ones (thus usability is in doubt) mentioned under this question (and automatically excludes InDesign) have implemented them. So as long as it uses dynamic programming to line break text and has the basic math typesetting capability I consider it has equal typesetting.

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