*HCS* Re: hcs-discuss digest, Vol 1 #122 - 6 msgs
bdconnel at fas.harvard.edu
Fri Jan 18 14:02:17 EST 2002
On Fri, 18 Jan 2002, Greg Westin shaped the electrons to say:
> I get the digest version, so I'm a little behind on this discussion,
> but why do you use TeX for papers, anyways?
A few reasons:
(1) Papers can be easily accessed and edited from any terminal on campus.
This greatly simplifies last-minute corrections--just log in, edit,
and run lpr. (The alternative: find a computer that runs Word and
has an FTP/sftp/scp client, download the document (assuming it's
accessible), hope it converts OK, edit, print, upload it back...
(2) Papers are saved as plain text. So you can:
- edit them with vi, emacs, etc, which are much more powerful than
Word's built-in editor
- process them with standard Unix text utilities
- keep them around in an archive that will remain easily viewable and
searchable for years to come
(3) As you say, the formatting of a typical paper doesn't matter much...
which is why (IMHO) an instantaneous preview is at best unnecessary,
and at worst distracting. Writing a paper in TeX lets you focus on
what really matters: the text. Once you've done it a few times, you
don't even have to THINK about how the document looks, because you
know it will basically look fine.
Freshman year, I used Word, but I soon switched to using LaTeX for all my
papers and never looked back. For serious page layout, I do find
graphical tools much easier... but in papers that's not usually an issue.
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