Word vs Latex

In this comparison of Word vs LaTeX (pronounced LaTech), we’ll review the features and basics that these programs have in common. We’ll detail a side-by-side look at the differences and share what reviewers find are the highlights of each. If you’re a writer, make sure to check out our section on features you’ll love. We’ll wrap up the article with our final recommendations and thoughts on each.

Word vs LaTeX

  • What is LaTeX?
  • Is Word compatible with LaTeX?
  • Should I Use LaTeX instead of Word?
  • What Does Word cost?
  • Is LaTeX Free?

Word Versus LaTeX: Basics

Microsoft Word is a word processing software program whereas LaTeX is a document processing software program. LaTeX uses a markup language for text and commands to indicate how plain text should be displayed. Word is a WYSIWYG (which stands for: What You See Is What You Get) interface where content and formatting are combined. With LaTeX, you write the contents or text first and then produce the document layout in a separate step.

Word is very effective with shorter documents, and although it can handle longer documents, it slows down considerably. LaTeX is designed specifically for long documents, and because it separates layout from content, it handles long documents more quickly.

Features of LaTex vs Word:

LaTex separates worry about the layout from getting content onto the page. LaTeX is designed to produce beautifully typeset documents, and its primary output file is PDF. This makes it easy to share with others without worrying about compatibility or loss of any work in your document.

LaTeX includes a default layout which lets you produce a professional layout right out of the gate. You can also fine tune typesetting such as Kerning, the spacing between letters.

With Word, you will need to learn to use many of the more complicated formatting features to format longer documents into the final output you desire. Word is also missing a utility for citations, which is an issue when preparing long works for publication where citations are necessary.

Those who write and publish in academic circles are working on a Master/Ph.D. thesis will be happier with LaTeX. The font selection, as well as the font execution in LaTeX, is much more advanced than in Word. Anyone who must pay attention to things such as glyph variants, transparency, and ligature should use LaTeX vs Word.

Word 2016 vs LaTeX: Side-by-Side

Both Word and LaTeX can produce formatted content. LaTeX allows the user to focus on getting the content onto the page without worrying about the formatting of each part. Word can be made to act in a similar way as LaTeX using the Styles feature to designate headings, titles, and subheadings, but since Styles in an optional feature in Word, most users never take the time needed to learn to use it effectively.

One of the biggest differences between LaTeX and Word is that LaTeX is open source and free whereas Microsoft Word is a proprietary product of Microsoft. Users can get access to Word through Office 365 for a monthly subscription fee of $9.99 or purchase the entire Microsoft Office suite for $149-$230. Purchasing Word as a stand-alone package will cost around $100.00.

You’ll find the spelling and grammar check missing from LaTeX, so if this is something you’ve come to rely on, you’ll need to configure a text editor for this purpose or use an open source spell checker like Aspell and Ispell.

LaTex vs Word: What Reviewers Say

Reviewers acknowledge a greater learning curve with LaTeX than with Word, but this is only a detriment if you produce more short documents than long ones. For those who write in academic and mathematic or science fields, or languages other than English, the learning curve of LaTeX is definitely worth the additional investment of time needed to learn to use it.

If businesses only knew how much better their documents and reports could look, perhaps they would try LaTeX. The next time you need to write a long document such as a report or research paper, give LaTeX a try and then decide for yourself which one is best suited to your style and project needs.

Word vs LaTex: For Writers

Latex vs Word

Writers should know that LaTeX is a professional typesetting program which makes it simply ideal for books and long documents such as a thesis or research paper. The fact that LaTeX separates the writing of content from the layout and presentation of the final document means that you can spend more time writing instead of fiddling with formatting settings.

Also, for those that have been frustrated with the crashes that seem to riddle Word lately, LaTeX is much more stable and reduces the risk of data loss. LaTeX provides the writer with way more control over the look and feel of the final document than Word.

If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with Word when trying to add images or make that Chapter start or end in the right place on the page, LaTeX is the solution. LaTeX can make typesetting choices for you, or you can take total control over the positioning of images and tables on your written page.

Summary Word vs LaTeX

In summary, when it comes to Word versus LaTeX, the two programs have very different functions. Word is a word processing program for processing text and formatting simultaneously in shorter documents. LaTeX is a document typesetting program that is designed to process documents by keeping content separate from formatting and presentation.

Although not precisely accurate, you could say that LaTeX provides a more formal and professional outcome than Word. LaTeX formats text in much greater detail including adjusting spacing and other fine tuning typesetting options with fonts.

For projects in industries where no one will notice or care about such fine detail, MS Word will seem sufficient. But for formal writing projects for academic, mathematical, chemistry fields, etc., LaTeX will produce a much more finely tuned, final professional document. The one you choose to use will depend on the outcome you desire.

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