LaTeX and Word

Seems like an excellent place to ask a LaTex question - I’d maybe like to use it for work, for longer papers, but am unsure how it integrates graphics files with the text. There are no good chemical drawing packages for linux, so I need to draw all my structures in a windows or mac environment. How would this work if I attempted to use LaTex, firstly from the perspective of just the mechanics of writing a paper [would I need to convert the structures into a graphics file format, or use Miktex in windows etc].

Second, writing a chemistry paper is very interactive between the schemes showing structures and the text. I constantly switch between editing chemdraw pictures and writing text, and that integration in word feels very important. Would there be an analogous process in Latex?

Thanks for any advice, interesting thread.

I’m a LaTex user but I have never used it for chemistry. That said, you might want to check out what chemfig can do.

For simple text documents, Word’s problems with hyphenation have been mentioned, but does Word still have problems with spacing? The last version of Word I used often resulted in unsightly non-uniform spacing between words, and to avoid the problem Word had ragged right margins turned on by default. I can’t remember if Word also had issues with spacing between paragraphs.

In what format do you create your diagrams? Or are you saying that you use Word’s own drawing tools to make them right on the spot?

I use a program called chemdraw which is the standard thing for organic chemists to draw structures with. It integrates quite well with word. There’s a linux version which is workable, but basically shite. Chemfig looks comedic (although cheers for the link Lance), like a physicist has had to draw ethane in a paper so knocked up a program for a bet.

It’s likely that LaTex is probably not the tool for me just because no one else uses it in my field - I would like to use it just on a personal level of mastering such a powerful program. One of my students was viva’d last week and had to change a lot of the numbering in his thesis - not an enjoyable task with a 300 page word file. I guess it would have been 5 mins with LaTex.

Not naysaying at all – I’ve used LaTeX with various editors including just handcoding, and it is undeniably neat to play with (except for their default typeface – I always liked to change that pronto. seems overused). I even liked the music typesetting LaTeX-based LilyPond (too cumbersome for quick sketches, for me, but fun to play with and looks gorgeous).

But, I suspect, many people who compose primarily text documents work in a similar way to me – constantly changing structural elements, using bold or underlined cues to indicate key structural elements, then, when the project coalesces beyond the sketch stage, integrating some of the structural markers seamlessly into the finished product. This is where something like Word or WordPerfect excels, to me – the finished projects on screen look reasonably close to the printed excreta. Not, IME, the case with rudimentary editors which give only a rough approximation of basic character formatting like bold, italic, and so forth. The intuitive character of using a sophisticated (for text! no comment on tables, formulae) GUI shouldn’t be underestimated in value.

Can chemdraw save files in any standard format, like .jpg, .png, .pdf or .eps? In which case, there’s no problem. You just export the graphic file from chemdraw to one of these formats then do an \includegraphics{XXX.jpg} in your LaTeX source.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that LaTeX is free as in “free beer” and “freedom”. You can get it any time, it’s backward compatible with any LaTeX document ever created, and it’ll always be available with the features you want. With Word you need to upgrade eventually, and when you do the new version may not be to your liking.

There was some talk about how and why LaTeX automatically positions floats (like figures). That was something a lot of people complained about, but there is a simple fix. I find it amusing that the guy who came up with the fix says he hates LaTeX and only uses it because he’s forced to, yet he was able to fix the problem he had. WIth Word you’re stuck.

Lest anyone think I am a LaTeX fanboy, I will say that I’ve never been satisfied with how LaTeX handles fonts. Usage has been greatly improved with fontspec and similar packages but installation is still ridiculous.

Thks Capt. That would work, as chemdraw has all those outputs. Drawback is then that the structures are ‘frozen’ as a picture and cannot be edited immediately, but it’s a simple operation to edit then re-save as a jpg I guess.
The nub of it is the malleability of the schemes in a synthesis paper, they get tinkered with a lot as the paper shapes up. It’s not like you stick a high def picture of a protein, say, in and that’s it.
Anyhow, best thing is for me to just try it. Thks for the info.

If you re-save the image with the same filename, that’ll change it in the document (though you’ll still need to re-render the document to see it).