I Yield! – I am switching from LibreOffice Writer to LaTeX

So I finally decided to migrate from LibreOffice Writer to LaTeX. I had previously always argued for using WYSIWYG wordprocessors like LibreOffice and made it quite clearly that I was going to write my entire thesis using a wordprocessor [1]. This was, in part, because I was not quite aware of the added benefits of typesetting. I mean at the time, LibreOffice did everything for me just the way I wanted things done. Besides, my research [2] is heavily qualitative and has no methamatical content, and I didn’t quite see the value of using LaTeX –I believe I was ignorant.

Anyways, I decided to deep my feet into water week before last and as it turns out, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I started off with “The Not so Short Introduction to LaTeX2e” aka “LaTeX 2e in 151 minutes” [3] and haven’t looked back since. Incidentally, after evaluating three (3) TeX editors —Gummi, Texmaker and Kile, I settled for Kile largely because I use a KDE desktop environment on Ubuntu, and I am already familiar with the interface since Kate is my prefered text editor.

My main reasons for migrating to LaTeX are:

  • I recently decided to make use of R for my Statistical Analysis and the integration between R and LaTeX via Sweave is simply amazing… aside from the nice and neat R plots, the dynamic reporting that R introduces to my entire workflow is something worth spending time learning.
  •  I had previously struggled to find tools for drawing my Vector graphics and discovered TikZ a couple of weeks back. TikZ especially works best with LaTeX.
  •  I started playing around with Beamer a couple of months back and figured the transition would be seamless –I wasn’t entirely correct here 🙁
  • The final LaTeX output looks professional… the difference between the two figures below says it all.
LibreOffice Output

LibreOffice Output

LaTeX Output

LaTeX Output

Of course the move came along with it’s own challenges; for the most part, writing markup to produce a document felt really awkward at first, but I am getting used to it. I’ve lost almost two days worth of time learning how to use LaTex –see time tracker figure below…. but alas! nothing is for free in this life.

LaTeX Learning Curve

Time Tracker – LaTeX Learning Curve

If you are reading this and trying to decide whether or not to use LaTeX, I would strongly suggest you start right now –you won’t regret it 😉

Bibliography

[1] https://plus.google.com/u/0/106314437040280051964/posts/XNdjcMq6Hj4
[2] http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/info/lshort/english/

Categories: Research
Tags: , , ,
  • Agus

    Many thanks for your useful advise, I’m decided to star today. Have you tried Lyx?
    If so, any comments on it?
    Also, regarding R, have you tried using Sweave through Rstudio?
    Agus

    • Hello there, I assure you, you will not regret switching to LaTeX 🙂 I know I didn’t :d I haven’t tried Lyx… I’ve been using a KDE desktop environment for the past 1 1/2 years and so Kile was the natural choice for me.

      I did play around with RStudio when I first started out with R, however, I don’t write very complex scripts and I still do most of my preprocessing of statistical data using LibreOffice Calc; I merely use R for post-processing –mostly graphical representation.