I May Never Use Microsoft Word Again

The Glory of Pandoc

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So I think that I'm going to have to repent from saying that PDF is my least favorite file format since I have begun to learn how to make good looking PDFs and have started using a PDF reader that is actually good. (I will never understand how Adobe, the company that invented PDFs, have objectively the worst PDF reader avalible and that same PDF reader is the most popular) In my time learning about how to make decent PDFs I have come to hate using programs like Microsoft Word to make a word document.

Markdown Languages

One of the most common ways to make a good looking PDF is trough the use of some sort of markup language, LaTeX is most common for scientific papers. Websites are also made with markup languages, HTML being most common. When I write things on this site I don't have to worry about what font sizes to use, I don't have to worry about the appearance of my headers or lists, and I really don't have to do anyting at all to make sure this page is styled the same as every other page on my site. All I have to do is put my headings in appropriate headder tags, paragraphs in paragraph tags and make sure that my stylesheet is refrenced correctly. Your web browser does all the hard work in rendering this document in a way that looks good. I can't imagine how much of a pain it would be to create a web-page, complete with colors and consistent custom headings in a program like Microsoft Word.

When using LaTeX to make PDFs writers have even more convinient options avalible to them when writing papers. Anyone who has ever had to write a paper where sources needed to be cited according to some standardized format would probably agree that keeping track of properly citing sources manually can be a pain, especially if you are using a format like IEEE which requires sources to be numbered and listed in the order that they appear in the document. LaTeX will create properly formatted in-text citations and bibliographies without you having to keep track of anything, or even really be familiar with the standards you set for it. Citations in Microsoft Word, however, are never fun or easy.

So what about .docx files?

The nice thing with markup languages is that with the use of a program called pandoc they can be made nearly universial. Pandoc can complie a LaTeX or HTML document, or even a .docx file to many other formats. Also there exist even simpler markup languages that can also be converted to other file types. (I'm considering starting to write these posts in markdown and using pandoc to convert markdown to HTML to put up here) There is no reason to fiddle with complex filetpes anymore. Just about 100% of what I've ever done in (including the most tedious and finicky thingls like tables and lists) Word can be done easily in markdown (which takes about five minutes to learn, I may write a guide on it sometime). No need for some complex program, or needing to figure out where certain settings have moved to after updates, or having to constatnly remind yourself how to make some text superscript, or files that take up too much space all that is needed is simple syntax and a simple text editor. (You could even compile mardkown to a powerpoint if you really wanted to)

The way people have used computers has evloved a lot since the computer's birth. most things have grown simpler, but in some cases (like with word processors) things have grown to be unnececarily complex.