4.0066 TeX (79)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 17 May 90 17:11:40 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0066. Thursday, 17 May 1990.

(1) Date: Thu, 17 MAY 90 11:31:39 GMT (66 lines)
Subject: Glomming typefaces with Latex---a doddle?

(2) Date: Thu, 17 May 90 13:42:43 BST (13 lines)
From: DEL2%phoenix.cambridge.ac.uk@NSFnet-Relay.AC.UK
Subject: Re: [4.0051 TeX ]

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 17 MAY 90 11:31:39 GMT
Subject: Glomming typefaces with Latex---a doddle?

I wish you would come here and install it on my machine... I agree with
much of what you say. I wasn't trying to deal TeX/LaTeX a death-blow of
any sort, just give a warning. It is of course possible to do superb
documents with them, but you don't see many. Of course getting a
designer is what everyone should do. But the fact reamins that most
people don't, and I daily see a lot of documents which contain lots of
ultra-tricky macros etc, but which look awful. On a typewriter they
wouldn't have had quite the scope for looking awful...

Glomming typefaces with LaTeX: a doddle?

I received several responses to my caveat about TeX and LaTeX. Two main
points were raised:

1. "It is a simple matter to attach use other typefaces with LaTeX".
Perhaps. I believe the majority of TeX/LaTeX users at the moment cannot
do this. It depends on the istitutional support they may or may not
receive.But perhaps the picture is changing rapidly. Access to different
fonts certainly constitutes a major improvement.

2. My criticism of TeX applies to all desk-top publishing systems (being
so low-level puts the onus on the user to have the knowledge and
discipline to create well-structured documents, with consistent
treatment of headings etc)

This is not quite right. Programs which impose a structure are better
(although maybe less versatile) than those which don't, for the amateur.
Certainly, authors are now producing documents (books, reports, etc)
which look more professional than their previous typescript (or early
word-processed documents). They now expect to deliver a more
professional document, even for informal purposes. That seems to be the
legacy of word processing. But most authors are not acquainted with the
sets of rules and norms that used to be the purview of typographers and
typesetters. So they now find themselves in the position of having the
equipment to produce a more professional document, but not the know-how.
(Again, it seems to me that this picture is rapidly changing; many
authors are becoming more sophisticated, and more aware of the need for
design and thought-out typography in documents.)

Nonetheless, some desk-top publishing programs, namely those which use
some form of generic tagging (each type of thing, e.g. a first-level
heading, second-level heading, new section etc has its own specific
name, with its own set of typesetting instructions) will at least be
more likely to produce a more consistent document. It will not produce
miracles: of course it is still possible to mis-handle the tags. But
the documents which come out of this type of system on the whole 'work'
better in that there has been a real attempt at consistency. These
documents are easier to read, as the reader receives the right cues from
the typography (inconsistencies often make reading more difficult; the
reader is momentarily puzzled as to where he is in the logical
structure). Thus, in this important respect, LaTeX is better than TeX,
Ventura is better than PageMaker (whose tags are not enforced), etc.

Perhaps doddle was originally Scotch, but it is certainly used liberally
this far South of the border. We must have glommed it.

Catherine Griffin
Oxford University
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------25----
Date: Thu, 17 May 90 13:42:43 BST
From: DEL2%phoenix.cambridge.ac.uk@NSFnet-Relay.AC.UK
Subject: Re: [4.0051 TeX (89)]

How nice to read Sebastian Rahtz' dulcet tones once again! His defence
and advocacy of TeX are spot on. TeX is also the only program I can see
that has a chance of making sense of a SGML file, since all these silly
WYSIWYG packages need irrelevances such as initial space or blank line
to indicate a new para. Of course, one would need a front-end processor
to change the SGML mark-up into TeX commands. Is anyone writing one?

Douglas de Lacey <DEL2@PHX.CAM.AC.UK>