Software Products to create and/or convert technical documents

Recommendation for Creating Technical Documents

We have found that LaTeX and WordPerfect have stable file formats, avoiding conversion problems between versions, because there is no conversion. Word file formats, however, do require conversion. Newer versions of Word consistently fail to convert well to earlier versions of Word or to any other formats. TexPort and Publishing Companion convert best between WordPerfect and LaTeX. Therefore, documents created using LaTeX can be easily converted and provided to colleagues or to publications in any format.

TexPort conversion software is used by professors and research institutions who write in LaTeX but must supply a word processed format document to others.

Currently, Microsoft Word is acceptable for technical documents if:

  • the time span from your first draft until the absolute last reprinting is less than two years (usual time span between Word versions)
  • you do not need or want publishing quality
  • the document file will not need to be edited using any future version of Word

We do not recommend Word 97 as it will likely require more than three times as much time for editing as compared to Word 95, Word 2000, or Word Perfect 8.0.

Create your document in LaTeX if any editing or publishing beyond the two-year time frame might be necessary. A document created 10 years ago in LaTeX can still be published, without editing, on today's computers and with today's operating systems.

Software sold by Personal TeX, Inc. before Microsoft created their last three Word versions can still be used to publish a document created with software purchased today, something Word often cannot do.

TexPort does a very good conversion from LaTeX to Word 97 and Word 2000.

Microsoft has historically made technical document files obsolete in a very short period of time. For example, mathematical equations created in Word 5 cannot be edited using later versions.

Microsoft will not release the internal format of Word equations. This inhibits conversion from Word to anything else. The internal format of equations changed from Word 5 to Word 6-7 and Microsoft is releasing yet another format for equations. Creating complex software to convert a file format that only has a 2-4 year life span is hard to justify.

The file format for WordPerfect 8.0 is almost identical to WordPerfect 5.0. Our experience has found that Word creates better import filters than export filters, so a document created with the latest Word is on a "dead-end street".

A file created in LaTeX or WordPerfect allows flexibility and future conversion. The TeX format has remained unchanged except for enhancements for more than 20 years.

We strongly recommend LaTeX for creating and publishing technical documents.

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For additional information, or to place an order, contact:

K-Talk Communications, Inc. 1287 King Avenue, Suite 203 Columbus, Ohio 43212-2220

phone: (614) 488-8818 fax: (941) 870-0707 or contact us by e-mail.

Copyright 1996-2005 K-Talk Communications, Inc.