LaTeX and MicroSoft Word

I’ve gotten used to using \LaTeX as my usual document preparation tool. However, many of the people I collaborate with are not into \LaTeX and would prefer that we use MicroSoft Word instead for drafts of manuscripts.

I had tried applying the latex2rtf package before to get a version of an existing manuscript into a form that Word would recognize. I failed completely; the translation simply didn’t work well.

Given a task of preparing a new manuscript, though, I decided to have another look at latex2rtf. I installed it on the MacBook Pro. That was simple, just a “make; make install” process at the command line. Then I started building my manuscript in TeXShop. I’d typeset the \LaTeX source, then apply latex2rtf to it.

What I can say is that the help available for latex2rtf is sparse. What there is indicates that one should stick to general and common features of \LaTeX. That is good advice.

Some advice for latex2rtf, though, is misleading. It claims to pick up parameters from the statement for the “geometry” package. I tried changing my margins there, and while my \LaTeX document reflected those, the RTF I got did not. Also, I could include graphics, but they appeared without scaling in the RTF. After a while of Googling without result, I finally dug into the latex2rtf source code. That produced results.

To expand the width of text on the page, I ended up using the following:

\oddsidemargin 0.0in
\textwidth 6.5in

That worked for both the \LaTeX and RTF versions of the manuscript.

Instead of using an absolute size for included graphics, I found that if I used “[scale=0.45]” in my “includegraphics” call, that worked well enough for both document systems.

So far, I haven’t encountered a difficulty in having the equations carry over to RTF. This looks like it may actually work. I’ll have to figure out how to highlight differences in edited Word documents so that I can efficiently carry over edits to the \LaTeX source, but I’m hopeful that won’t be too difficult.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.