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The joy of TeX.

The Joy of [T.sub.E]X

In its various incarnations, Word-Perfect must be one of the most popular word processing software packages for the IBM-compatible market. Its latest version (5.0) competes with the more advanced desktop publishing packages such as Ventura and Pagemaker, but there is one problem for the scientific community with WordPerfect; it has difficulties incorporating chemical symbols and scientific formulae into text.

For those who use scientific formulae frequently, there are two very good alternatives. If WYSIWYG is required, T(3) (see May'89, p.6) is a good scientific word processing package. However, it does have a few idiosyncrasies if you are used to a standard word processing package, and it is slow. Another alternative is the brain child of Donald Knuth called PC [T.sub.E]X (pronounced It is a true typesetting package, but also compatible with most laser, Epson compatible, and Hewlett-Packard Deskjet printers. With the appropriate style selection. This package can handle almost anything that you would want printed. There are, of course, some things that are not simple. It is not an WYSIWYG package; however, like WordPerfect, it can preview your copy on the screen (and it does this marvellously well).

The commands are simple and are the same for the microcomputer as well as the mainframe versions. This makes the text file created by the PC [T.sub.E.]X version compatible with the mainframe version. There are a few format problems, but nothing insurmountable. In fact, any simple text editing package or wordprocessor that saves ASCII files can produce the text file for PC [T.sub.E.]X.

The best things about PC [T.sub.E.]X are - that all the symbols are created

using ASCII commands; - there are many clear, well-written

manuals accompanying the

diskettes; - spaces are automatically made

properly between words and sentences

(a problem with all word

processors); and - there is automatic kerning and

ligatures.

Software compatibility is the key to the selection of computer hardware, and compatibility is still the key when choosing software for the computer. If your clients/colleagues use a specific software package like Lotus 1-2-3, you may run into trouble by supplying information to them in Quattro. In the same way, if you are just typing business letters, it does not matter what word processing package is used, but for those interested in submitting articles to many journals, publishing books, or providing audio visuals (like slides) and graphics for presentation, this software package will do it well. Many publishers (like Lewis Publishing) use it and some scientific journals now prefer articles to be submitted on diskette using it.

If you can live without WYSIWYG, PC [T.sub.E.X] is probably the most versatile and useful package for technical word processing. It will write chemical structures (there are macros available for such things), it will incorporate tables, graphs and figures and will draw nice figures and graphs on its own. Drawing circles and lines are done with simple tricks. It can even draw organizational charts (with square, oval or whatever boxes). If will make cover pages for reports better than most desktop publishing packages. At this point in time, this reviewer does not know what PC [T.sub.E.X] cannot do.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Chemical Institute of Canada
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:PC TeX word processing package can handle scientific formulae
Author:Miyamoto, Henry
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Mar 1, 1990
Words:542
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