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Microsoft Science

Some Journals Rejecting Office 2007 Format 474

Posted by kdawson
from the embrace-extend-extinguish-yourself dept.
hormiga writes "Some scholarly journals are rejecting submissions made using new Office 2007 formats. Science and Nature are among publishers unwilling to deal with incompatibilities in the new formats, and recommend using older versions of Office or converting to older formats before submission. The new equation editor is cited as a specific problem. Rob Wier recommends that those publishers consider using ODF instead."
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Some Journals Rejecting Office 2007 Format

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:18PM (#19366991)
    Huh, strange that Science and Nature are using a standard text editor format at all. You'd thing something TeX-based would be more suited for this purpose(based on my experiences on writing math on computers).
    • by larry bagina (561269) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:57PM (#19367231) Journal
      Science and Nature are more about biological/geological/cellular/laboratory science. "Math" mean statistics and some charts and graphs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by m4cph1sto (1110711)
      My experience is that most journals accept TeX submissions, but they strongly recommend submissions using a Word (2003 or earlier) template. Personally, I write all my papers using LaTeX, and submit the TeX-generated PDFs to the journals. Then I generate a Word document using a program like Tex2Word (or whatever) and submit that as well. The journal emails only the PDF (which, thanks to TeX, looks nice and professional) to the reviewers. The reason journals require a Word document is because it is simpl
    • by Anthony (4077) * <adavid@adavid.com.au> on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:37PM (#19368079) Homepage Journal

      They are quite cognisant of TeX. There is extensive submission guidlines [sciencemag.org].

      "Please do not send TeX or LaTeX files for your initial submission. Convert the files to PostScript or PDF instead. [Important: Screen legibility of the PostScript or PDF file is essential for rapid and thorough evaluation of your manuscript; please ensure that the .ps or .pdf file you generate from your TeX/LaTeX source does not include Type 3 bitmapped fonts.]

      Although we do not accept TeX and LaTeX source for initial manuscript submission, these formats are acceptable for manuscripts that have been revised after peer review. To save time at this later stage, authors using these packages for their initial submission are encouraged to review our instructions for preparing text and tables using LaTeX."

    • by Man Eating Duck (534479) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @07:04AM (#19369893)

      You'd thing something TeX-based would be more suited for this purpose

      Maybe for writing it, but not for submissions. You tend to run into all sorts of conversion problems, font incompatibility among other things. Most printing houses only accept PDF from professional clients.

      Word is a surprisingly common format in the publishing business. I work at an academic publishing house, handling the preparation of documents for printing. We publish most of the theses for a large university, as well as ~70 books and other publications a year.

      Regarding books and similar projects, we try to accept any format we can convert to something you can import into a typesetting application. The thing is that among academics, more than the most basic knowledge of computers is uncommon. They use whichever program is available, most commonly Word. Formulae, graphs, even tables, are ofthen created in a suitable program, and inserted into the document as an image. We have the technical expertise to convert whatever they submit into something printable. It is not their concern, neither should it be.

      I don't get why the journals would balk at any specific format, they should have the means to convert it anyway. Let the scientists worry about the science, and the publisher handle the preparation of the manuscript. In the worst case you request better source material, but that should be quite rare.

      Still, I would love for all our authors to use something better than Word :)
  • by l2718 (514756) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:20PM (#19367007)
    That journals accept anything but TeX/LaTeX. Of course some still accept typewritten documents (with a transcription fee), but if you have access to a computer why use Word (or OO writer) for serious writing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tribbin (565963)
      I'm quite sure that some of the brightest minds would not want to spend time to juggle with Tex. They have better research to do.
      • I'm quite sure that some of the brightest minds would not want to spend time to juggle with Tex. They have better research to do.
        It's actually quite easy, if you use it regularly.
        • TeX and Word. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by twitter (104583) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @10:45PM (#19367809) Homepage Journal

          It's actually quite easy, if you use it regularly.

          It's not just easy, it's a huge time saver. Trying to making a long Word DOC act right is a death by a thousand clicks and it never really works well. Open Office is better, but it is still clicky, clicky and can auto-wrong things. If you just have to have buttons to press, use Kile.

          Word Perfect was a reasonable editor for the purpose, but it was slain long ago.

      • by russotto (537200)

        I'm quite sure that some of the brightest minds would not want to spend time to juggle with Tex. They have better research to do.
        That's what grad students (or even undergrad assistants) are for.
      • So use Lyx (Score:5, Informative)

        by shis-ka-bob (595298) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @09:10PM (#19367315)
        Lyx allows you to write TeX without having to learn all the funny commands. It's just like how you can use KOffice to write ODF documents or MS Office 2007 to write OOXML documents ;-) There are other LaTeX front ends that allow you to generate documents without having to learn all the tags, but I like Lyx and its free.
        • Re:So use Lyx (Score:5, Interesting)

          by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @10:03PM (#19367571) Journal
          LyX also has the best equation editor I've seen. It's not as pretty as the *Offices' equation editors, but you can enter equations in without taking your hands off the keyboard, and even insert TeX markup that it doesn't understand without messing anything up.

          But most importantly: the equations are treated like part of the text, so there's no clicking madly around the edges of invisible boxes that occasionally disappear to the end of the page just to edit something.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tim (686)
        You'd probably be surprised how many of the "brightest minds" spend eight hours a day doing needless grunt work to accomodate the many peculiarities of Microsoft Office.
  • backlash (Score:4, Interesting)

    by minus_273 (174041) <`moc.oohay.MAPS' `ta' `aaaaa'> on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:21PM (#19367019) Journal
    Is it just me or is the new Office UI AND incompatible format coupled with the requirement of 3D cards to run Vista creating a perfect storm of backlash. If any one of these things were to come alone it would not have been this bad, but judging by the reaction from several companies including my own, this i driving people to look at OSX as a viable option.
    • Re:backlash (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jollyreaper (513215) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:52PM (#19367197)

      Is it just me or is the new Office UI AND incompatible format coupled with the requirement of 3D cards to run Vista creating a perfect storm of backlash. If any one of these things were to come alone it would not have been this bad, but judging by the reaction from several companies including my own, this i driving people to look at OSX as a viable option.
      Anyone who predicts the end of Microsoft risks looking like an idiot since these predictions have been going on for decades and yet Microsoft is still here and as strong as ever. That being said, allow me to risk looking like an idiot by agreeing with you. :) I don't see Microsoft going away anytime soon but I think that there are some risks for them out there now that simply did not exist in the past.

      1. Office is Microsoft's bread and butter. Everybody used Office so anyone wanting to work with other people had to be in the Office game. Even if there were alternatives that might have been better from a technical perspective, Office was already the 800lb gorilla. People were no more going to switch from Office than they would switch from QWERTY keyboards.
      2. The international push by governments to move to an open document format is huge. To do business with these governments, now you're forced to use a different word processor. This sort of mandate helps to redefine the playing field. As you said, on it's own this is not a ballbuster for Microsoft.
      3. As you mentioned, Office 2007 is a pain in the ass.
      4. Vista sucks.
      5. This is another killer factor: you can get Linux on the desktop now, and not just for geeks. I used to scratch my head wondering what people on Slashdot were talking about when they said they had Grandma running on Linux. Not anymore. The latest friendly distros like Ubuntu are ready for normal people to use. Everything they need to see is there, open, friendly, no muss, no fuss. If somebody told me I had to explain Ubuntu to my mom, my first response would no longer be "shoot me now."

      While I don't think any of this is going to lead to the inevitable collapse of Microsoft in the coming weeks, I think it could be the start of a downward slide, at least in terms of operating system and office app markets. Historically speaking, powerful and unstoppable kingdoms/empires/corporations tend not to be destroyed from outside but from within. Laziness, neglect, a lack of imagination and vision, all of these things will hollow out the entity until a trifling problem could become the crisis that finally brings the end. The problems we're seeing right now could be the start of that. But given Microsoft's size and clout, I think we'll be waiting a long time for the final curtain.
  • How strange (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jc42 (318812) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:22PM (#19367021) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft has been pushing "upgrades" that break files from earlier releases for a couple decades now, and I've never heard of a publisher (or any other organization) standing up to them before like this. Generally, they just go along meekly, since "that's what computers are like, y'know".

    What do you think might have given some of the publishers a backbone?

    I'm assuming that they haven't actually converted to non-MS (or non-IBM) systems. That would be just too bizarre to believe. Do you think that they've actually noticed that non-MS systems can usually read files from 20 years ago without problems? Is this some sign of a pending movement in which more organizations will actually start standing up to the Market Leader?

    Nah; it can't be. Something very strange must be going on behind the scene.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dal20402 (895630) *

      Word has only changed file formats once in recent memory, between Word 95 and 97 (or 6.0 and 98 in the Mac versions).

      I remember exactly the same issues that time. Word 97 .doc format was not widely accepted until at least 1999. Once Vista and Office 2007 are widely adopted, which will occur within a three-year replacement cycle, and Office 2008 for Mac is well established, the new formats will become standard and there will no longer be a peep of protest, whether or not MS has fixed the issues with the fo

    • Microsoft has been pushing "upgrades" that break files from earlier releases for a couple decades now, and I've never heard of a publisher (or any other organization) standing up to them before like this. Generally, they just go along meekly, since "that's what computers are like, y'know".


      What do you think might have given some of the publishers a backbone?

      Without knowing anything about how Science or Nature actually publishes things, I suspect that in the last couple of years they have gone for more an

    • by gerf (532474)
      [p]Macros that have worked even back in Office97 are now broken. A contractor at work tried to go buy Office at any Brick n' Mortar place, and since 2007 is the only one available, he's pretty much screwed... [p]I wish OOo had really good macro compatibility. If it does, let me know (email shown)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BCW2 (168187)
      Take that a step further and really wonder why MS got as big as it did. IBM came out with the AS400 in 1988 and promised that programs written for it would never be obsolete. A textile company in NC is using a program written for an IBM S36 on the latest version of the AS400. The program is 25 years old! Big companies use custom software and can't afford the hassles of the shrinkwrap world. Think about a 20 year old program that has been maintained and modified for that timeperiod it might be a million doll
    • There is no reason to expect a company to support old formats forever. There are many rational reasons to prefer Word over OpenOffice, which is why many people do. Someday, that may change, but that day has not arrived.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Belial6 (794905)
        If they are trying to sell their product to businesses that might have to go back to 'forever' to retrieve data, there certainly is a good reason. I'm waiting for the first time a company gets sued for using MS Office by their shareholders because they lost a large lawsuit due to an inability to retrieve documents. Today, you can still get your hands on old copies of Word, and old copies of Windows that the old Word will run on. That might not always be the case. If someone needs to get some documents o
  • As a Mac guy... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by imamac (1083405) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:22PM (#19367025)
    ...I would love to say "Ha Ha! Proof that Microsoft's end is near." But this is typical for version changes. If you didn't yet spent the thousands of $$ to upgrade, then you won't be able to read the newer formats. It's that simple. The only real story here is they are pushing ODF, which is nice to see.
  • I thought that they barely took office format at all anymore. I was under the impression that they preferred LaTeX. Everyone that I know in my department (Aerospace Engineering) would not think of using anything but LaTeX for journal submissions- to do otherwise is cruel to the typesetters and asking for your article to look horrible.

    In general, a WYSIWYG format, whether ODF or DOC format, will not be what you get in the journal, since any good journal will do some heavy formatting changes in order to make
    • by Alan Shutko (5101) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:35PM (#19367095) Homepage
      There are a few reasons that Science and Nature prefer Word to TeX. First, they are not nearly as equation-heavy as a pure physics or mathematics journal would be. Second, they've got a publishing workflow that takes Word as an input and ties into the rest of their technology. They don't care how well Word typesets documents, they want common input formats that they can rip information out of and edit themselves.

      TeX and LaTeX are great if you've got substantial finicky needs (esp around equations) that you really need the author to get right, and to be able to carry that through. However, to support that comes at a price. As the TUGBoat editors experience on an ongoing basis, publishing a journal composed of arbitrary TeX content from different authors is difficult. Different authors may use conflicting macro packages, or it may be harder to coerce each into the house style.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bbtom (581232)
        LaTeX isn't just good for equations and other science-specific data - LyX and a decent BibTeX manager (I use BibDesk on OS X) are a great way of keeping large volumes of material well-managed for work in any academic field. Without LaTeX/BibTeX/LyX, I would have probably have never finished my (fairly research heavy) undergraduate dissertation (philosophy).

        Now I have switched to XML-based formats and use XSL-FO and Apache FOP to turn it in to PDF/PostScript. I have complete control over the whole process an
  • by Tribbin (565963) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:26PM (#19367041) Homepage
    It's not important that people will use open-source software for writing documents.

    It's more important that MS supports ODF.
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:28PM (#19367055)
    My department has started getting Office 2007 files and we find it irritating. We are not ready to go there yet. We have many macros that interface to our database that must be rewritten. It will probably be a year or so before our small I.S. department has time to convert to Office 2007.

    The amount of money that will be spent to rewrite code that works with Word 2007 will not be insignificant and the real down side is that we get virtually nothing for our effort!
    • Thats the real key.

      And just wait until you start getting 'protected documents' or emails.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shis-ka-bob (595298)
      This is interesting. We are looking at upgrading Office, and both Office 2007 and OpenOffice.org 2.2 are being considered. I had thought that Office 2007 would be able to use existing macros, but if this is not the case it could help tip the scales in favor of OO.o. After some study, it turns out that OO.o has templates that are more capable that Word (See thesis instructions from MIT [mit.edu] or David Wheeler's blog [dwheeler.com]. (Even if you don't want to write a thesis, they do represent a highly structured documents with
  • Okay, I know the popular stance on this site will be "Why aren't they using x open source open standard format! Why aren't they using some latex!?!!?"

    Firstly, I am a CS major and have a number of linux machines ..and TBH I am not even sure how latex works...how can you expect writers to know about this format which is primarily (as far as I can tell) used in *nix?

    If it were me, I'd just demand PDF and be done with. So much wasted energy in this.
    • by Tribbin (565963)
      Did you ever receive PDF's with diagrams and images and had to merge them together and edit them?

      PDF would worse.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)
        All the journals I've ever submitted to require you to split your figures out into separate PDF or TIFF files. They grab the text out of the main PDF and then can put the figures anywhere they fit.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by bh_doc (930270)
      Knowledge of TeX/LaTeX is pretty much a prerequisite in the Maths and Physical Sciences. I'm not so surprised that a CS major missed out. No disrespect, one of my majors was CS, too. It depends on what you typically write, but once you learn LaTeX you might find it hugley more sensible than any WYSIWYG system. I did.
    • Re:Doc Formats? (Score:4, Informative)

      by coaxial (28297) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:42PM (#19367139) Homepage
      LaTeX generates both Postscript and PDF. I don't know anyone who would submit or accept raw LaTeX source. All the journals I've looked at took either .doc or PDF, with the expressed requirement that it be "a single, self-contained file." You don't get that with LaTeX. Unless you're a masochist, all your references are in BibTeX, and all your graphs are in either PDF or EPS format, not that weird line-draw TeX command thing.
      • >I don't know anyone who would submit or accept raw LaTeX source.
        Most mathematics papers are now written in latex and the submission often by latex source.
      • by beanyk (230597) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @09:13PM (#19367331)
        I submit to some physics journals (Physical Review D, for example). They -prefer- LaTeX source with .eps figures. Though I use BibTeX with an external .bib database for references, I explicitly cut-and-paste the contents of the resulting .bbl file into the main paper draft.

        I -think- they'll allow PDF or postscript submission of the whole thing, but it's slower to process, and they might add charges.
    • by fredrikj (629833)
      Firstly, I am a CS major and have a number of linux machines ..and TBH I am not even sure how latex works...how can you expect writers to know about this format which is primarily (as far as I can tell) used in *nix?

      TeX is pretty much standard in physics and math. I'm a physics student and TeX was the second thing we were taught in the computer introduction course -- after learning how to log in and do basic file management in Linux. It's just a matter of learning it.

      It's actually a bit strange that TeX isn
    • by Beetle B. (516615)
      Why has this discussion suddenly become one of MS Office vs TeX?

      What happened to Open Office?

      FWIW, the journals I publish to accept Word, PDF or TeX. Satisfies all crowds. If you don't want to do TeX, and don't want to pay for Word, use Open Office and export as PDF. No one is saying that they should require TeX and nothing else.
    • by ameoba (173803)
      In a normal CS curriculum, you probably won't need to use TeX at all as an undergrad. On the outside, you might have one math/theory course where the prof thinks it's worth knowing. If you continue on to graduate studies, OTOH, the use of TeX increases significantly.
  • For years and years, I fell into the fold where if Microsoft came out with something new, I upgraded. Latest and greatest was always the best. Then when XP came out, I somehow didn't find myself rushing to upgrade. The computer I was using at the time would barely run the OS and the newer Office software didn't mean anything to me except for occasions when someone would send me a document I couldn't read. (Though at some time close to that I was also trying out OpenOffice...guess what I was using to ope
  • by pcsmith811 (886216) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @08:37PM (#19367111) Homepage
    There is a compatibility pack for Office 2000, Office XP, and Office 2003. Maybe they should research that!

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/HA10168 6761033.aspx [microsoft.com]
  • I use to have a machine that BSOD on upgrade to service pack 2. Office 2007 won't install on pre SP2. From another machine I used Word 2007 to send out resumes to several prospective employers only to have them request 1997-2003 format because they couldn't read my Word documents. I do government work now and where I work they have standardized on Windows 2000 with the Office 2003. I doubt Office 2007 would work on their machines and for reasons of security and stability and having gotten so many machin
  • by antdude (79039) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @09:25PM (#19367389) Homepage Journal
    For those with older Office (2000 to 2003), why not use the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack [microsoft.com] for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats? I have not run into any 2007 files yet since I still use 2000, but at least I am ready if any appear.
  • Automatic Conversion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DavidD_CA (750156) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @09:28PM (#19367407) Homepage
    The first time I opened a 2007 Word document on my machine (with only Office 2003), Word was smart enough to go "Hey, can I download the compatibility patch for you?"

    I said yes, and in one click I was able to open the document up. I imagine the same holds true for the other Office apps, though I haven't tried it.
  • by semiotec (948062) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @10:01PM (#19367559)
    although it'd be nice if Slashdot editors can be bothered to spell his name correctly. Many posts so far express some surprise that journals even accept anything other than Latex. Having been through the system several times, I can say that the reason that big journals like Science and Nature accept MS docs as the default format is because of biologists. Essentially, Latex is used only in Mathematics and Physics related sciences. Unlike them, most biologists don't know much about computers, and couldn't really give a rat's arse about the formats. Having trained in Physics (Bachelor) and Med/Bio (PhD) and now working in bioinformatics, I have had many arguments with people about this particular issue. My argument being that, the fact that the scientific process is an open process should also mean that the format in which the data are preserved should also be open, and not locked in some proprietary format like MS Doc and, yes, shock-and-horror, Powerpoint files. I've bitched many times to my old boss that he was spending a few thousand dollars on getting Photoshop licenses just to crop some pictures or change the levels. Although the lack of proper CYMK support in GIMP is a bit of a setback, but even then, just a couple licenses would have been sufficient for that purpose, rather than getting a license for every machine. I mean, these guys were using Photoshop as an image _viewer_! The situation in Physics is quite diffferent. Of course there are many hardcore OSS users, but many people just used BSD/Linux/(and even some old Unix machines are still chugging along), simply because they are free and they are sometimes also the best tools for the job. I remember in a few years ago working with an Astrophysics group during a summer vacation, and we had some time on the Parkes telescope, and we were able to remotely control the telescope from Sydney, which would have been impossible under MS Windows (at the time). Back to the point, ODF would hopefully bridge this difference, since if the biological scientists want to learn Latex, a WYSIWYG editor using ODF (such as OpenOffice.org) should be acceptable to them.
  • Journals (Score:4, Informative)

    by looneyboy784 (787605) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @10:50PM (#19367841)
    Has anybody at Slashdot ever actually submitted anything to a journal? You are all advocating LaTeX but the truth is many journals will not accept anything other than a single column .doc file that they can copy and paste into their fancy typesetting software. A LaTeX file is useless to them as they use none of its typesetting features. I tried it once and got turned down because they wanted the .doc version pain in the ass but I learned my lesson.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lahvak (69490)
      Pretty much every math journal out there accepts LaTeX. Some of them actually require LaTeX. Lats year I had to help a colleague of mine from our computer science department convert a paper drom word to LaTeX, because he was submitting it into a math journal, and LaTeX was the only format they would accept.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NanoProf (245372)
      Depends on the journal- the mainline Americal Physical Society journals (Physical Review A,B,C,D,E,Letters) accepted LaTeX (made their own macros- RevTex) for years before accepting Word.

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