Confessions of a researchaholic

March 27, 2016

WYSIWYG editor

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:02 am

Some people told me that they prefer Word over Latex for paper writing due to a more direct WYSIWYG interface.

It is true that using Latex is more like coding than writing. But is Word really more WYSIWYG?

One of my PhD students, J, is interning with a top HCI lab that prefers Word. J already has first-authored multiple SIGGRAPH papers via Latex, but had difficulty figuring out how to use Word, such as citations and cross references, even after the internship mentor provided a previous paper Word file for example.

The main problem of a binary file like Word is that it shows what is there but not how it got there.
Take citations as an example. Even starting with a complete paper, there is no way to tell how to add a new citation just by looking at the file alone. One has to search online or via the in app help.

In contrast, a source file like Latex shows how everything is done, even though we have to take an extra compilation step to see what it looks like. But that can be a single command with a makefile, which also clearly shows how to build everything.

The ideal tool should allow authoring in both directions: on the source (like Latex) with outcome immediately visible (like Word), or on the outcome (like Word) with the source automatically modified.
But for now, Latex is more WYSIWYG than Word for me.

1 Comment »

  1. If you want a more WYSIWYG interface to Latex, you should definitely check out Lyx ( It’s kind of a mix between Latex and Word, while still using Latex as a backend/rendering engine. Last time I tried I found it’s a bit too much work for me when dealing with large and complex documents, but some people may like it.”

    Comment by Jeremie — April 5, 2016 @ 6:05 pm | Reply

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