I was wondering how people write / layout a technical report / book. I have the following requirements:

  • main text is two columns
  • each chapter contains many graphs / figures / tables that span both columns
  • bibliography at the end of most chapters (but these references are not cited in the main text)
  • I receive all of the source documents in Word.

I would naturally do this with LaTeX and the memoir class, however after spending only a day at this task, I'm facing the following problems:

  • copy & pasting text is slow
  • forcing figures and tables to show up at a certain position and spanning two columns is way too hard - it basically never works (maybe I'm doing something wrong) and figures end up always at the end of a section / chapter.
  • I don't feel like I could delegate this job to someone without LaTeX knowledge.
  • You constantly need to recompile because if you don't do it, you'll never find the problems.

Again, maybe I'm doing something wrong here and I'm open for any suggestions and advice.

EDIT: regarding the contents / design that I'm looking for, I guess the following pdfs might be a good example

  • Are you required to force positioning of figures and tables? It may be considered a better practice to let LaTeX place them. – N.N. Nov 1 '11 at 18:54
  • yes, figures and tables need to show up on certain pages. I know that latex is 'smart' of putting them somewhere, but usually this means that all figures end up @ the end of a section / chapter. that's useless. – memyself Nov 1 '11 at 18:56
  • 4
    @memyself This is going to be difficult to answer if the Q&A format here, certainly without an example of your input. For example, floats (tables/figures) are not always optimally placed by LaTeX, but don't usually end up 'at the end of a section'. It would be useful to know a bit more about what you are writing. It might be an idea to pop over to chat so we can discuss the issues in a more open-ended way. – Joseph Wright Nov 1 '11 at 19:00
  • @JosephWright if added a couple of links to pdf files which hopefully clarify what I'm looking for. – memyself Nov 1 '11 at 19:12
  1. The transfer from Word to LaTeX can easily be done by opening the *.doc in OpenOffice / LibreOffice and exporting it to LaTeX, I'd suggest to use the option "very clean". Take care of the language settings before exporting. But I never had to export formulas.
  2. I'd prefer KOMA-script to memoir, because the MPG-Layout seems to be european style.
  3. The real problem seem to be the pictures, which are just a little bit broader than one column, like in your MPG example. We can not really help you here without a working minimal example.
  • thanks for the hint regarding doc to latex - I wasn't aware of that option. Regarding KOMA-script vs memoir, what are the differences? if I ask google I don't really find an answer. – memyself Nov 2 '11 at 9:08
  • @memyself I think you can start from this question – percusse Nov 2 '11 at 9:15
  • @Keks Dose: I assume you are using the Writer2LaTeX exporter for the latex export? – memyself Nov 2 '11 at 9:18
  • @memyself Yes, writer2latex, but as far as I remember there was a export-option built in newer version of OOo / LOo. – Keks Dose Nov 2 '11 at 9:24
  • @KeksDose so I tried writer2latex but I end up having to manually go through the entire text and copy & paste it into my actual latex document (because things like \part \chapter are not used by the write2latex document). – memyself Dec 3 '11 at 19:33

First, work up a LaTeX format in Memoir which applies the desired formatting / page layout.

Second, write a macro in WordBASIC which captures and preserves the formatting which you want, strips out everything else and saves the text w/ basic LaTeX commands.

Third, work out a technique for managing your art program (all graphics will need to be sourced, named appropriately, placed in a suitable file hierarchy, pre-flighted for press-readiness, converted to an appropriate format)

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