Do you prefer Word 2007 or 2010?

I was asked that question today. It was a colleague who had joined the department this very morning, who had managed to log into her brand new Windows 7 computer and was just commenting on the fact that she had expected to find a copy of 2007 on her computer rather than the later version.

In hindsight, I could have mentioned that 2013 was due shortly, but I was fighting so hard to avoid getting out my soap box and giving the long litany of all the things I hate about the Microsoft Office Suite! But, yey for me. I managed it. I just said that I didn’t like using either.

And what would I use in its place? For a quick document which needs only minimal styling and which I need to be able to share with others I would probably use Word (if I was using Windows, which isn’t very often) or Libre Office (the open source Office wanna-be which supports saving documents in Office format) or, if appropriate, Google Docs. I particularly like Google Docs, not because it is particularly good, but because it is accessible from anywhere, on any platform. At work I have a Windows 7 PC (it dual boots into Linux Mint) and a Mac (which dual boots, also into Linux Mint). Being able to work across the platforms matters to me!

But if it was a document which was longer, which had to support extra functionality such as a bibliography then I can’t imagine anything better than a LaTeX document created in Emacs using AucTeX. Of course this is a major geek-out, and I would never suggest it to a standard user. The learning curve is immense. But when it comes to writing a longer document which is internally referenced, has a bibliography and can support the writing of beautiful mathematical equations, then quite simply LaTeX is my go to word processor.

I need to get back into using it actually. I have been a touch typist for something like 20 years, and I was very good at using Emacs/AucTeX/LaTeX through the keyboard shortcuts. I could write long screeds without reaching for a mouse. But a couple of years ago I decided to change to use a Dvorak keyboard and now the muscle memory for the short cuts needs rebuilding. Maybe I need to practise writing documents to remind myself. If I do I might record the most useful keystrokes here.


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