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Re: [Orgmode] Exporting for word processors

From: Scot Becker
Subject: Re: [Orgmode] Exporting for word processors
Date: Sat, 9 May 2009 00:04:28 +0100

I'm doing something similar.  Also in the humanities, and also the lone non-Word user in my department (also with biblatex). 

In my case, no one minds what tools I use, so I'm lucky.  I'm using org > latex >PDF and pass those on to my supervisor.

I hope that you find something that works.  Conversion seems to always have a few niggles, which makes me think that conversion on an ongoing basis may have some rough spots.  I expect that if you use HTML as an intermediary format, you won't have the footnotes where you want them.  And LaTeX just seems to think differently from Word, which means that things don't come out how you want them. 

If your committee is happy to pay attention to content, and not worry about exactly how things look until the end, it should be fine.  If they care about how things look, you might persuade them that a nicely done LaTeX PDF is the thing.

Also it's worth noting that the org-mode exporter does have a few quirks, which I just managed to figure out.  You can't end italics *after* a comma (you have to do it before), and you can't mix bold and italics unless you specify explicit LaTeX markup for one of them.  And bold or italics and quote marks also have problems, which I haven't wholly sorted out.  But if you go with LaTeX, you can get away with a lot just by passing LaTeX commands through. 

All the best,


On Fri, May 8, 2009 at 9:03 PM, Matthew Lundin <address@hidden> wrote:
Hi Jeffrey,

Jeffrey Windsor <address@hidden> writes:

> I'm a PhD candidate in English literature, trying to break free from
> the crappy tools that proliferate among humanists. My advisor and
> committee are all incorrigible Microsoft Word users -- there's no
> chance that they'll ever switch. I'd rather use emacs, and
> specifically org, for my dissertation. But I need to regularly send
> drafts to my committee.

I am in the same position --- i.e., I use emacs/auctex/org-mode/biblatex
in a field in which MS Word is the default option. Many of the things I
write have to be converted to doc format at some point.

> In the past, I've used PDFs (created in org via LaTeX), which works
> fine from my perspective, but I've detected some grumbling from the
> Microsoft Word users. They want me to fit in with the rest of the
> crowd and send them Word docs, too.

Are they adding comments to the Word document, or are they simply
printing it out for reading? If the latter is the case, then this might
be an opportunity to inform them (gently) about the advantages of pdf
files for exchanging documents. :)

> Before org, I used MultiMarkdown, which exports to RTF. Since
> discovering the more robust org-mode, I've wished I could do the same.
> The fact is, I probably *can* do the same, but simply lack the
> know-how.

Perhaps the easiest route would be to export to html and then save as a
doc file from within Open Office or Word.

For simple LaTeX export to rtf (i.e., export of tex files exported from
org-mode), I've had great success with latex2rtf:


It's as simple as typing:

--8<---------------cut here---------------start------------->8---
latex2rtf document.tex
--8<---------------cut here---------------end--------------->8---

It will spit out a few warnings about unknown packages, but the
resulting rtf file is usually quite good.

> Can anyone help me out? I suspect that docbook is the key, but I've
> tried to find an answer there and am flummoxed by the docbook
> documentation. Plus, if possible I'd like to have this be a simple
> process: if possible I'd like to have a straightforward C-c C-e R and,
> voila!, an RTF (or wordml?) file appears on my desktop. I'm a Mac
> (aquamacs emacs) user running org 6.26trans, if that makes any
> difference.

I think it would be pretty easy to write a function combines
org-export-as-latex with latex2rtf to deposit an rtf on the desktop.
I'll see what I can come up with.

For more complicated stuff (e.g., if you use the excellent biblatex
package for managing citations), tex4ht is a nice option:


This is a very powerful export tool that will convert a tex file to a
variety of formats. It can handle a lot of extra tex packages (e.g.,
biblatex) that other exporters can't handle.

Hope this helps.


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