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Old Feb 18, 2013, 12:42 PM   #26
CoMoMacUser
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I know you said that you despise Word, but I wouldn't rule it out. I'm an analyst, and I write reports in Word. They typically have several infographics and sometimes run 50 pages or longer.

The only time I have problems with Word is crashing when there are a lot of tracked changes and comments, and that's even with docs as short as two pages.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 01:05 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by monokakata View Post
I'm with the Scrivener crowd (although I use Word all the time).

Here's one thing that Scrivener gives you that can be really handy during the drafting stage (Spectrum mentioned it) -- you can compose in small chunks (smaller than chapters or named sections) and then rearrange them with great ease -- color code them, even, or use the corkboard-metaphor display.

You can even look at two chunks simultaneously (and work on them as well).

The chunks can be as fine-grained as you like. I had a piece of short fiction written in Word, a few years ago, and it wasn't working. I broke it into chunks, imported them into Scrivener and moved them around (click and drag, nothing more complicated than that) until I found the right solution. After each trial, I told Scrivener to show me the entire thing in that order (and even write it out as a Word document) and I'd read it, decide what still wasn't working, go back and re-order . . . in the end I won a national prize with it.

If your thesis looks to be pretty much straight-ahead in its organization, then what Scrivener offers might not help you very much. But if at this point you're uncertain about how you're going to organize it, you might do well with Scrivener.
I agree with this, I'm writing my masters thesis in Scrivener - it makes it a lot easier editing chapters.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 01:51 PM   #28
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I see lots of people recommending Pages or LaTeX. But I find neither of them to be appropriate for your needs.

Pages is a word processor with desktop publishing features. It is good for designing beautiful pages in a simple way. But it does not have advanced word processing features, such as cross-references and indexing. These features, which most people don't even know that exist, make your job of writing a thesis a lot simpler and more straightforward. And, as Apple has not updated it in years, these features will hardly be added anytime soon.

LaTeX, on the other hand, has several advanced features, but it is good for people involved in hard sciences, who must use a lot of math equations. It requires a lot of effort to learn. For researches involved in human sciences, and who know nothing about programming, learning LaTeX may be more difficult than writing the thesis itself. May be too complicated. You may test it, but, if you have never heard of it, then it probably won't be for you.

Then there are other options. Two of the most cited ones are Microsoft Word and OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice. These are popular word processors which are widely used under Windows, and are available for Mac. But I don't think they are the best options.

Word is, of course, the world's most popular and widely used word processor. It should be a no brainer. But it is not. Word for Mac is crap. Heavy, slow, buggy, bloated. Crap piece of hardware. It has all the features you may need, though. And it is fully compatible with, well, Microsoft Word. If third parties have to open your files (such as your supervisor), it would be the most compatible choice.

OpenOffice.org / LibreOffice Writer is an open source word processor which has a lot of features, and would satisfy your needs. However, the interface is clunky. The biggest advantage is that it is free and has good compatibility with Microsoft Word. It would fit your needs.

There are other alternatives which were developed for Mac, and which are pretty good.

First, there is Mellel, a word processor with a focus on complex documents. It is very good for styles, cross-referencing, citing sources, and so on. You should at least try it. It is meant for thesis writing, and similar tasks. However, compatibility with Word is poor.

Nisus Writer Pro is another great alternative, although significantly more expensive than Mellel. It has good compatibility with Microsoft Word files.

Scrivener has a different approach, as it does not focus on page layout. However, it is a great piece of software and you should try it for large projects such as a thesis.

You may also play safe and install Microsoft Windows on BootCamp or Parallels and run Microsoft Word for Windows. The 2013 version is simply great. I wrote my 250-page thesis on Word 2010 and I don't regret it.

In addition to this, you may also want some reference management software. Endnote is the standard, but expensive. Zotero is a good free open source alternative, and it has a Microsoft Word plug-in. Works well on Windows, but I have not tested it on the Mac.

Plus, there are some Mac-specific software that does this job. The best of them are probably Sente and Bookends. You should take a look. There is also Papers, but I don't know how it manages references in documents.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 02:35 PM   #29
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LaTeX, LibreOffice and MS Word are the most known. That's very useful because they use a fileformat that will be recognised by many other apps. If you need to open it in the future you are not just stuck with the pdf version but you also have the originals you can still edit. This can be a dealbreaker for some. If having a pdf is enough for you than pick any that matches your needs, has the lowest learning curve and outputs a pdf. The learning curve part is very important since you want to spend time on your thesis and not on learning some kind of language and/or piece of software.

When I had to write my thesis I went for OpenOffice.org (LibreOffice didn't exist back then) because it was what I already knew, it did what it had to do, it was stable and it was the only software that could output pdf files with a clickable table of contents (which also showed up as a ToC in any pdf reader) and clickable urls.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 03:18 PM   #30
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Scrivener

For any long form writing--novels, theses, dissertations, journal articles--Scrivener is simply the best. The final stage may well include "compiling" to send to Word (or whatever word processor your thesis advisor requires) for final formatting.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 04:28 PM   #31
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My Experience with Word...

I did my MA thesis using Word, for several reasons.
1) it's what I'm familiar with, for long documents - my thesis ended up at 200+ pages;
2) the latest version works well for managing any length thesis;
3) your university may be different, but mine insisted on a Word formatted doc, AND a proper bibliographic database using EndNote to keep every reference and footnote used during my research. EndNote is the only app that can connect to Word and manage the references/footnotes for you. Otherwise it's going to be a loooong manual process for managing your research notes.
4) Your University may provide a template document that they expect you to use so that all the pages are formatted to the university's standards.

So, I suggest you find out what your university expects you to use before asking MacRumors for advice on what's easiest. Personally I would NOT use LaTeX, as I'm not interested in a lot of manual formatting work - doing the thesis is enough work. Good luck.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 05:33 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OcelotWreak View Post
Personally I would NOT use LaTeX, as I'm not interested in a lot of manual formatting work - doing the thesis is enough work. Good luck.
If you're doing a lot of manual formatting work you're not using LaTeX.

LaTeX lets you focus on the content not the way it is formatted. You can enter completely unformatted text in a text editor and have the formatting completely handled by the style sheet.

B
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 08:44 PM   #33
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Use Word for windows (or mac). You're going to want people to comment on your document, no professors are going to edit a Latex or Scrivener document. Your thesis also has to go through a secretary or two. Do you think they'll know how to program Latex?
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 08:50 PM   #34
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I did my project write up (similar to a thesis) in Microsoft Word 2011.

It turned out to be around 200 pages, with multiple auto-generated tables of contents.

It was a PITA to manage that type of document in Word.

Given the task again I would seriously look for an alternative solution.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 09:11 PM   #35
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MS Word is my axe of choice. Auto formatting using styles, auto indexing, auto table of contents, custom text wrapping of images, I used it for writing my first textbook and wouldn't use anything else.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 09:30 PM   #36
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Open office for thesis

Hey, I just finished a 102 page thesis in December, and I used Open Office. I was able to incorporate tables, charts and graphs with this program. The only snags I hit were when I needed to format the table of contents so that it was linked to change when the body of the text did, and using specialized page numbering for different sections of the document. Both of these delimas were solved by posting questions about them in an Open Office forum. Hope that helps, and good luck with the thesis.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 11:47 PM   #37
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I'm writing a Genetics based thesis, so there won't be too many numbers involved. Mainly tables, images, charts etc. I just want something that's relatively user friendly and can allow me to separate my work into sections and subsections (Intro, methods, results etc.) and can generate a table of contents for me with ease. If it is compatible with word, that would also be amazing because that's what my supervisors will be using. Oh, and allows me to cite things easily too!


I can see each of the programs you guys suggested has it's ups and downs. Thank you so much for all your help! I downloaded LaTex at uni today, I'm about to have a play around with it
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 12:30 AM   #38
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LaTeX or LyX

LaTeX is clearly the ultimate document processing software. I'm working on a revision document for a technical specification, which will end up in the 1500 ++ page range. Word threw the towel, but no sweat at all for LaTeX. With all those extra packages available for free in the LaTeX distribution (called MacTeX for the Mac), LaTeX is way beyond just typesetting.

And if you are afraid of using LaTeX directly (and about the learning curve), use LyX, which is a WYSIWYG-style preprocessor for TeX and LaTeX. It uses its own TeX dialect, but has the option to export pure LaTeX.

Good luck with your thesis,

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Old Feb 19, 2013, 03:44 AM   #39
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I've used Pages for my masters thesis (200 pages) and it was a joy. For my Phd I plan to try out Scrivener, as it will be easier for creating sub sections.

Quote:
Originally Posted by r0k View Post
I'm surprised LibreOffice (formerly OpenOffice) hasn't been mentioned at this point.
I had to help/read my sisters bachelors thesis two days ago, and she send me an ODT file. So I installed LibreOffice to read it, and everything went good for ~30 minutes time. Then LibreOffice choked on its own auto-save function, which just kept looping and made the application unuseable. Force quit it, restarted. LibreOffice asked me if I wanted to recreate my file - Yes of course I would, since I had made changes - This resulted in LibreOffice crashing. Tried several times more, crashed every single time. I then started it up and said no, I didn't want it to restore my file. This resulted in a pop up window stating that I had closed windows last time I exited the application, and if I wanted to open that again - Yes and no buttons both didn't work, so now I had the splash screen, along with a dialog that couldn't go away, making LibreOffice unuseable.

I then went into Application Support to find the file, which I assumed would be auto saved in there, and behold, 60 versions of the same file, where 58 of them were 0kb. Got the first file, which unfortunately made me loose 40% of what I had written, but I got some of it out at least (That's what I found out from sending the file to my sister, since I couldn't open it with LibreOffice had exploded).

Oh, and on top of that, the LibreOffice installation, being java, apparently installed something into the system so java didn't work properly anymore, so I had to reinstall Java to get my homebanking working again.

Its going to be a loooong time before I try that suite again, that's for sure.
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Last edited by T'hain Esh Kelch; Feb 19, 2013 at 03:45 AM. Reason: splellingz
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 03:59 AM   #40
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For any document with sections, chapters etc., I can only recommend LaTeX.

Word is a nightmare for those. Though it might be better for graphs and the like.
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 04:26 AM   #41
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Just use LaTeX, get yourself some template, a brief guide and you're good to go.
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 06:53 AM   #42
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just found this link on a well known site dealing with rumors around Mac: http://guides.macrumors.com/Installing_LaTeX_on_a_Mac
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 07:07 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trustever View Post
I have briefly seen MS word for mac 2011 on a friend's mac and it is very close to the version for Window, can't really comment on the reliability as the prieviuos version was very prone to crashing that I have moved to pages but if I were in you I would give it a try and if you are happy puchase it...
I already purchased Office 2011 for $10 through my company's home use program. It was the worst $10 I ever spent in my life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by T'hain Esh Kelch View Post
I've used Pages for my masters thesis (200 pages) and it was a joy. For my Phd I plan to try out Scrivener, as it will be easier for creating sub sections.


I had to help/read my sisters bachelors thesis two days ago, and she send me an ODT file. So I installed LibreOffice to read it, and everything went good for ~30 minutes time. Then LibreOffice choked on its own auto-save function, which just kept looping and made the application unuseable. Force quit it, restarted. LibreOffice asked me if I wanted to recreate my file - Yes of course I would, since I had made changes - This resulted in LibreOffice crashing. Tried several times more, crashed every single time. I then started it up and said no, I didn't want it to restore my file. This resulted in a pop up window stating that I had closed windows last time I exited the application, and if I wanted to open that again - Yes and no buttons both didn't work, so now I had the splash screen, along with a dialog that couldn't go away, making LibreOffice unuseable.

I then went into Application Support to find the file, which I assumed would be auto saved in there, and behold, 60 versions of the same file, where 58 of them were 0kb. Got the first file, which unfortunately made me loose 40% of what I had written, but I got some of it out at least (That's what I found out from sending the file to my sister, since I couldn't open it with LibreOffice had exploded).

Oh, and on top of that, the LibreOffice installation, being java, apparently installed something into the system so java didn't work properly anymore, so I had to reinstall Java to get my homebanking working again.

Its going to be a loooong time before I try that suite again, that's for sure.
Sorry to hear you had so much trouble. I've never lost work in LibreOffice. I only rarely lose work in MS Office. I could understand the risk of losing work to be part of the decision in choosing an Office app 20 years ago but not today. I will approach LibreOffice with a bit more caution going forward (save early, save often), especially when opening a doc from somebody else.

I'm still not willing to litter up my perfectly good Mac with MS Office as I don't need any of its features and I don't want to deal with its bloat.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 11:03 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by vistadude View Post
Use Word for windows (or mac). You're going to want people to comment on your document, no professors are going to edit a Latex or Scrivener document. Your thesis also has to go through a secretary or two. Do you think they'll know how to program Latex?
I don't know about LaTex, but Scrivener's not meant to be used like that.

You never offer up the Scrivener project to anybody else (unless it's a collaborator). It's a composing/organizing tool.

When you have something to send around, you tell Scrivener to export it as Word, or RTF, or plain text, or a PDF. You then send that piece around.

For example, I completed a very large project (300K words), exported it to Word for an editor (who made changes in that document using Word's Track Changes), exported it to PDF for other readers who weren't doing any editing, and continued to work on it in Scrivener.

I then looked at the Word document from the editor in one window while I did or didn't make changes in the Scrivener window. I'm not finished with that yet, but when I am, I'll simply export a new Word document for the editor and new PDFs for my other readers, while continuing to work in Scrivener.

Eventually I'll be working entirely in Word, but not until the end.

I recommended Scrivener and continue to push it to the OP as a compositional tool. Organizational changes are trivially easy, exporting chapters or any combination of sections (either for readers or for himself) is very easy, and so on.

Eventually the OP will leave the Scrivener environment for Word (or other environment) because the thesis will be close to completion and he'll no longer be thinking about major changes. Then he can turn his attention to his university's templates (if any), reference management, etc. etc.

I have to say I wish I'd been in the OP's position when I wrote my PhD thesis in 1971: yellow paper, index cards, and I typed the whole damn thing myself, all 330 pages of it, on an Olympia electric typewriter. My university required that there be no more than 2 white-out corrections per page.

Last week I scanned it into a PDF for a student who needed it, and put it in Dropbox for him. While doing it I remembered places where I'd wanted to do something different but was constrained by chapters, pagination, and all the rest, and had to leave it be (or retype many pages). Life is difficult when you're using a typewriter and want to make a change 50 pages back.

It's a lot easier now, which is good.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 12:05 PM   #45
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Well do be honest, as i had to cope with the fact that i had to put my work into a given Word template, i started using it, but was soon faced to the problem, that the template gets destroyed after working with the docx file for a while.

I started off using some Simple Text Editor for writing the plain content and adding images.

Today i always start off using Google Drive / Docs. With it i can pre-format the text and then make a link for "Read & Comment" only so others can so some proof-reading.
+ It is excellent to do collab. work.

The only downside is working in the cloud .
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