Walter Mays

Why I'm Moving Away From LaTeX

This may come as a shock to you: I, Walter Mays, the ardent LaTeX fanatic, am not going to use LaTeX for every assignment anymore. What is this world coming to?!

It’s not that I’m going to stop using LaTeX completely. I think that is a fantastic system for typesetting structured documents, and I’ve been having to put together several of those this semester. I wouldn’t trade the power of LaTex for the world. I just wish it wasn’t so verbose.

LaTeX syntax requires a ton of extra thought and typing. While it very powerfully allows the user to do mostly anything, especially defining complex macros, it does this by requiring them to wear out their backslash key. That’s pretty necessary when you want to do complex things, where there are lots of standards you have to conform to that can change at any moment, but it’s unnecessary when you need to do simple things.

And I’ve found that typing a basic paper counts for me as a “simple thing.” That’s why I’m moving to Markdown to write papers from now on.

Call me old fashioned, but I like writing in a text editor. WYSIWYG editors are very useful for people that like looking at the finished product as it’s being built, but I prefer to see all the markup and formatting as I’m working on it. I’m writing this post now in Vim using Markdown. It’s liberating to not have to type so many commands and to just focus on the words themselves.

This isn’t really a farewell post. LaTeX will always have a special place in my heart. I just think it’s time we see other people document formats.