iWork for University?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by MasterHowl, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. MasterHowl macrumors 65816


    Oct 3, 2010
    North of England
    I'm starting University in September (if I get the grades...) to study Physics with Astrophysics.

    I'm going to be writing a lot of lab report, handling a lot of data, and doing a lot of presentations... so I'll be using iWork a lot.

    Now, I have no problem with Keynote, because it's one of my favourite Apple Apps ever, and I can just plug my MacBook into a projector. No problem.

    However, Pages and Numbers may be a problem. I'm not sure how "up to the job" they are, because I've only ever done one massive report on Pages, and one huge spreadsheet on Numbers (physics course work for my a-levels).

    Has anyone been through University with iWork? Should I think about switching to M$ Office? I have the 2008 version, and I really hate it.

    Hearing opinions on this would be great!

  2. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    Office 2011 is much better than 2008, and I would recommend giving it a go for University

    I love Pages and Numbers, but you don't want to fight that fight
    Concentrate on your work, not on how to make it work
  3. -Ryan- macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2009
    I went through my undergraduate degree using iWork. It was fine for the most part, but I had a couple of difficulties with Keynote-made presentations not displaying correctly when sent to professors or displayed on a Windows-based PC in class. My undergraduate experience is likely to have been much different than yours - I studied politics mostly - and so Pages and Numbers were fine for me. Perhaps if you are going to be regularly moving between university PCs and your Mac, or submitting work in presentation or spreadsheet format you'd be better opting for Office. Exporting Pages documents in Doc format is pretty good, but the same can't be said for Keynote and Numbers exporting.


    That is a legitimate copy of Office 2011 for £37. Can't go wrong with that.
  4. MasterHowl, Jul 10, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2011

    MasterHowl thread starter macrumors 65816


    Oct 3, 2010
    North of England
    This is what I was worried about... it was a bit of a struggle sometimes during my a-levels with the whole compatibility thing.

    I might download the Office 2011 trail and give it a try. If I like it, I'll try buy it from my University books shop (if they have one...) because it's a bit expensive!

    Saying that, maybe I'll wait and see what iWork '11/'12 has to offer (if it ever comes out!)

    I'll keep that in mind with regards to Keynote!

    And thank you for that link! Didn't know about this website before, thank you so much :)
  5. blipmusic, Jul 10, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2011

    blipmusic macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    My advice is to take a look at LaTeX (or XeTeX, rather, due to its OTF and Unicode support out of the box and the absolutely brilliant fontspec package.) for writing.

    I realize I'm biased but I actually advice against common word processors for longer academic texts with a lot of examples (especially if you need to gloss in linguistics - well you probably won't, I have to... - and cross references).

    While I admit there is a bit of a learning curve, for many in academia it's worth it for the cross referencing and bibliography features alone. Quite honestly I can't go back to a word processor for longer texts.

    Also, if you start out early you'll already know your way around when it's thesis time.

    Since you're in physics, the maths/formula support will be of great help.

    If you happen to be a typography nut (weeee! :D) there are alot of advanced features you can control (via fontspec). If you're not, just pick your typeface and let latex/xetex do the rest.

    I remember my supervisor giving me advice on how to give temporary "names" to examples, rather than their number, to easier number them when finished. I felt sorry for him since he did his doctor's dissertation that way. All you do in latex is to label the examples once (if you need to reference them) and cross references and get numbered and updated automatically.

    Maybe there are similar features in newer word processors as well but I have yet to find anything close to latex.

    Bonus "features": it's free and the documents are plain text. Of course your frontend of choice might not be free, but many are.

    First thing to do: Download and install the latex package.

    It comes with TexShop, a frontend/text editor which for most purposes works quite well.

    Others are (haven't tried them all):

    TextMate ($$ - text editor w/ plug-in). This is my current one, though version 2 seems unlikely to arrive "soon" - Japanese, which I need, doesn't exactly work out of the box for example. Great editor other wise. Oh, and get Skim (PDF) too. Here's a setup guide someone wrote.

    BBedit ($$ - text editor w/ plug-in) or possibly TextWrangler (free - ditto). Haven't tried either for latex, though.

    Texnic Center (free - dedicated latex editor).

    Latexian ($$ - dedicated latex editor)

    Scribo (free while in beta, might be flakey - dedicated latex editor)

    Finally, look out for the upcoming Sublime Text 2 (text editor in beta, only partial latex plug-in as separate download at time of writing)

    You might hate latex but I'd say you owe it to your possible future researching self to at least try it out.
  6. maclaptop macrumors 65816


    Apr 8, 2011
    Western Hemisphere
    This advice is priceless.

    Using iWhatever is a total waste of time in your environment.

    I use it and enjoy it for my personal use, but nothing measures up to MS Office in the outside world. I've used it for decades. At work, when I was at MIT, and everywhere else that values work over "being different".
  7. ghsNick macrumors 68030


    May 25, 2010
    Can Americans buy this?
  8. Aidoneus macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2009
    I completed years 2 and 3 of an undergraduate degree using only iWork. That said, I was studying Classical Civilisation, so it was really on Pages that was used, plus one or two Keynote presentations.

    If you're submitting hard-copy, iWork will do you fine. Either print it out yourself, or export to .PDF and print off the Uni network. If you're submitting electronically, I'd say it is definitely worth picking Microsoft Office. My housemate was also Physics + Astro, and looking at his work, I'd say I wouldn't have been happy using iWork for it.
  9. MasterHowl thread starter macrumors 65816


    Oct 3, 2010
    North of England
    Thanks for all this! Just downloading the thing you linked me to.

    Sorry, this might seem like a stupid thing to say, but what exactly is LaTeX?
  10. windowstomac macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2011
    Office all the way I think, especially given the low academic pricing.
  11. MasterHowl thread starter macrumors 65816


    Oct 3, 2010
    North of England
    I downloaded the 2011 trail for the MS website, and I just don't like it... I'm going to use it for a little while longer and hope I get used to it!
  12. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030


    Dec 7, 2002
    Florida, USA
    There is no replacement for the formulas in Excel. Period. I used iWork for my undergraduate degree in Business and only ran into problems with Numbers not having the needed formulas, but I still say use Office. I do recommend having Keynote for making presentations, but for everything else, stick with Office.
  13. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    There's really no contest. If your work matters to you, use Office.
  14. blipmusic, Jul 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011

    blipmusic macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    A few more walls of text...

    That's great! :D Just don't let it intimidate you the first time. I talked a friend of mine into changing his 200+ pages dissertation into latex and he wouldn't touch coding html but manages latex fine. Now he won't go back to Word (nothing inherently wrong with Word, but glossing and cross referencing those 220+ examples of his isn't super fun in Word).

    Anyway, LaTeX is a typesetting program (or rather, a bunch of macros and a markup language that do just that) so it's quite different from your average WYSIWYG word processor (which is both a frontend - the GUI - and the typesetter in one).

    What you are doing when you "write" your document in latex is a bit akin to coding. Don't let that discourage you, though, it's not complex "code". Then you compile/typeset and boom beautiful typography.

    Your best bet is to look at a few basic examples to get a hang on the document structure. Basically you have a preamble, which is your settings - formatting, fontstyles, packages (extra feature you might want to use), and the main part, where your content goes.

    If you use the included TexShop you can just start writing (well, in latex format that is), whereas other text editors might need some setup or an additional plug in. Though, I'm not a terminal warrior (there are those who use Vim or Emacs with latex directly in the terminal - I don't :p) nor do I know my way around UNIX and it all went well with TextMate, which also comes with a latex-plugin with syntax coloring and shortcuts.

    Reasons for getting a "real" plain text editor is that you can enjoy all their text er... crunching benefits as well as user made shortcuts, color themes that are easier on the eyes and so on. I setup code snippets in TextMate for example so that I just write "ex", press tab and I get the entire structure for an example and that just scratching the surface if you like to automate things.

    Since you'll be studying astrophysics I suspect you will also have to parse through huge amounts of data at times. This is where a good text editor will be of great help (I'm a former astrophysics student turned linguist of all things so I've kind of been there, although I've forgotten most of my astronomy studies, sadly - :eek:). Same goes for linguistics and language data in my case.

    To use the xetex engine (unicode and open type support - the latter means you can specify regular .otf typefaces you probably already have) you need this in your preamble, I believe (at least in TextMate, in TexShop just choose xelatex from the drop down menu):
    %!TEX TS-program = xelatex
    %!TEX encoding = UTF-8 Unicode
    Don't forget to try the fontspec package as well!
    [EDIT: Just to be clear: xetex is included in that humongous package you downloaded, which byt the way is that big due to all the packages included (extra features, such as glossing packages etc). You also need to save the document in unicode (utf8).]

    Oh, just for the sake of irony: the typeface consolas comes with all versions of... wait for it ... Office. It's a great monospaced font family for coding. *cough* Actually, version 1.0 is available here as an exe but "is only intended for licensed users of Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 or 2008". *cough* Don't shoot the messenger. ;)

    By the way if you find that latex isn't for you (but it is!) perhaps Mellel can provide the comfort of a word processor, while still having a lot of features for those writing academic texts. Bibliography tools come separately (i.e. $$), though Mellel is only $30 for students. I know my university provides EndNote for free to registered students, though. Perhaps there is a similar licensing deal on yours? Quite a while since I've last tried it, however.

    Sorry for the walls of text. I might have confused you, rather than actually helping out. :p
  15. jackc macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2003
    As long as you have to deal with .doc files in any way, either importing or exporting, Pages may not be worth the hassle. And as a science student, if you need spreadsheets you may want to favor the more powerful and commonly used Excel.

    I'm planning on buying the iWork apps if the update ever comes out, but I don't have the compatibility needs as much.
  16. accessoriesguy macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2011
    I have both iwork and MS Office.

    First if your worried about compatibility and your used to MS office, just go with that.

    I use office because of the notebook layout, its more convenient to take notes.

    However I use iWork for my physics labs because its so much easier to input data and make graphs and all that good stuff. Numbers can do so much more then excel in my opinion.

    iWork has a compatibility check, I use that every time and have never had problems. I know people who have Microsoft office and still have compatibility issues. But go with whatever you feel is right.

    If you are a cash strapped college student you can find some freeware programs out there or just use google documents woot woot!

Share This Page