iWork in College? Good idea?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by ThirtyThr33, Jul 31, 2011.

  1. ThirtyThr33 macrumors 6502


    Jun 13, 2011
    Boulder, Colorado
    Hello MR,

    I am a college student, and I am getting a MBP for classes (big shocker I know)
    but I was wondering if it would be okay to get iWork for college papers and other tasks instead of MS Office. I have heard iWork has issues with converting files when it comes to collaborating and I'm worried that if I get iWork then teachers and other students I'm collaborating with won't be able to edit drafts and vise versa. Plus I don't know how powerful iWork is compared to MS Office.

    Help! What do you think?
  2. steezy1337 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2008
    Carlisle, UK
    i didn't personally have any problems with any files while i was at college here in the UK, so long as you remember to convert files to .doc or .rtf if they need to go to a Windows user, although i was only ever doing basic things, like writing up smal reports for coursework.
  3. Daveoc64 macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    IMO the biggest problem with iWork is that it insists on converting to/from anything other than its format.

    That really is bad for a college environment
  4. MrWaffles macrumors member

    Mar 4, 2011
    I try to have everything in a format that will work with other people without any problem. I find myself emailing things to teachers and other people that I am working with quite a lot during the year. It's just annoying to have to worry about the file format, or have two of the same thing in different formats. Office 11 is really good and you can usually get it through your school for a bit cheaper, plus everyone else is using it that you will run into.
  5. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Heres my take on it:

    iWork, for many people myself included, is much easier to use than office. I have used iWork for almost my entire last college career (I've had three college careers :p)

    iWork will work for most things, and you can export into MS Office files and they work fine most of the time unless there is some heavy formatting.

    Also many professors, at least where I go wanted things in PDF to ensure formatting was correct so I just made what I wanted and saved it as a PDF.

    Office is much more powerful than iWork (with the exception of Keynote), but more cumbersome IMO to use. iWork strips away the extraneous garbage and lets you just work on your document.

    If you think you will be doing heavily formatted papers and spreadsheets, iWork may not be for you, but if you plan on writing just word docs or doing the occasional spreadsheet and such iWork would be a great option.
  6. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    First, find out what your educational institution has to offer. Office can be pretty heavily discounted; for example in work environment they have a home-use policy that's killer. Much better than anything I've seen Apple offer.

    Second, what about email? Some schools might be using Exchange Server, and although Apple's Mail and Address Book hook up nicely with it, Outlook has some pluses. And IT drones are more likely to want to help if you're connecting with Outlook than Mail (although, in my experience it was actually easier to connect with Mail…go figure).

    Third, +1 on the compatibility issues. It's just easier using Word and Excel. They are great programs, and except for cost I don't see that Apple's products are much better. I'd trade a few ease of interface issues for near-universal compatibility any day.

  7. tjb1 macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2010
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Keynote may be better made but remember that the transition will not work well going into Powerpoint. Word documents should be fine, if you are using Excel for its TRUE use with all the formulas and everything it is much more powerful than numbers... I just use office, easier and no worries.
  8. mkelly macrumors regular

    Nov 29, 2007
    I think it depends on a number of things. What type of courses are you taking? I used iWork on occasion while working on my physics degree, mostly when working on research posters for various presentations. When writing actual papers, neither iWork or Microsoft Office was really suitable - I did most of my paper-writing in LaTeX (the hazards of doing a physics degree) :)

    If you're an English major, then I wouldn't worry about it - you can easily get away with iWork because your papers are predominantly text with little in the way of fancy graphics / equations in the document (most likely to get mangled during imports/exports to other document formats).

    But if your area of study is going to require you to produce more complex documents, then you should probably take a serious look at something like Open Office or Microsoft Office.

    Finally, if you're studying math, physics or engineering you should bite the bullet and learn LaTeX - you'll need it down the road.
  9. 99turbo macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2008
    If you will be writing papers that require extensive citations, find out what tools are recommended at your school. Some tools may not be compatible with Pages but work with other word processors. That would be a consideration for me. In fact, I just found out that my school's tool-of-choice is not compatible with Lion. Hope they straighten this out before the Fall term. Good luck and enjoy your MBP!
  10. ThirtyThr33 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 13, 2011
    Boulder, Colorado
    I guess I should have included my major. I am a chemistry major so the only real "heavy documents" i would have would be scientific writing, lab write ups, lab reports etc... Of course and an occasional english paper or history paper on the side.

    I really like the look and simplicity of iWork but as some of you have mentioned, the formatting does worry me a little. As long as it actually converts a document to .doc with no surprises, I think I'm okay with it. But I've heard things from people saying it usually can't even do that well. But they seem kinda biased so I thought thats why Id ask you guys.

    Plus I think the simplicity of numbers would rock because making graphs in excel suckssss!
  11. blipmusic macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    I repeat myself alot on this issue but anyone entering university should at least ponder the possibilities of latex. I you opt going for the unicode version xetex, included in the Mac install package, you'll be able to use the ttf/otf fonts (those you'd normally use in a word processor) you already have. This also includes a front end, basically a specialized plain text editor, though any text editor with a latex-plugin can be used.

    I'm sure you'll get by with any word processor but when documents become large and complex (examples/formulas/cross-references and bibliography ect), latex is a fantastic asset. It can be intimitading at first but eventually you have learned a tool that is extremely powerful for academic writing (and otherwise for that matter, I have several books typeset with latex).

    Want a feature crucial to you research? "There's a package for that."

    It's also free and the typography (for those of us who care a bit too much :p) is beautiful.

    Found a few chemistry resources on latex:

    (though, I write/code using TextMate and a mono font rather than the proportional one in the examples)

    I almost never see it mentioned here. Perhaps it's more popular here in Europe than in the US?
  12. ThirtyThr33 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 13, 2011
    Boulder, Colorado
    Wow this is sick! I think I'll definitely download this just to have around. I dont see much use of it for english papers but since I am entering organic chem I can definitely see this as a beautiful tool to use. My only question is how long of a learning curve does it have? And where do you learn the code?
  13. Damers macrumors regular

    Jun 2, 2010
    Use LaTeX, problem solved. The documents look better than any rag word or pages will turn out. Pretty much a must if you're in the physical sciences.

    TeXShop is a really good front end, even has beamer for making presentations.
  14. rKunda macrumors 65816


    Jul 14, 2008
    For better or worse, Office is the standard. Other options like iWork are functional, but if you're going to be turning in papers, it's going to be a pain.
  15. blipmusic, Aug 2, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011

    blipmusic macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    Well, it all depends on what "English" means in your case. Linguistics? As in: language theory with a lot of examples and glossing? Then latex is your tool. If by "English" you mean "literature" with few glosses/examples/diagrams, then any Word processor will probably serve you well in conjunction with bibliography tool - might not look as nice though (well, for xetex that is) ;)

    I'm in linguistics and latex is an indispensable tool for me. Personally, I couldn't go back to word processors.

    It has a bit of a learning curve since you will not see the document in its print version until you typeset (essentially compiling your "code" - do it whenever you feel like it, though). Think of latex as a simple html structure (well, they don't really look that much alike) that concentrates on content and text.

    Your working document is a simple text file that any computer can read (you'll need a latex installation to typeset of course), not a proprietary format some/most word processors rely on.

    My suggestion is to perhaps write a paper in a word processor the first time, or use an existing one, and turn that into a latex document to figure out what you need/want.

    Also whenever you miss a feature, google the feature in question since there is probably someone who has encountered the same problem before and written a package (one that's probably already installed, since the MacTex distribution is an all-in-one).

    There's an incredible amount of info on latex on the web, but here's a taster:

    This seems to be an introduction.

    And here's more of a reference (PDF).

    Last thing: try to use xetex/pdflatex from the get go. In TexShop, the included editor, you can choose this from a dropdown menu (I currently use TextMate + latex-plugin). This is a modification of the latex engine in unicode (utf8) - don't forget to save your documents in unicode if you use an external text editor - to use any semi-modern font on your computer as-is (standard latex requires a special package for that particular font - and a postscript version of the font, I believe - to work).

    EDIT: Almost forgot, be sure to make use of the fontspec (PDF) package for all typography related stuff. It's absolutely wonderful.
  16. FluJunkie macrumors 6502a

    Jul 17, 2007
    I really, really dislike LaTeX as a recommendation, unless your field is dominated by it. It essentially ensures that collaboration is harder with folks who don't use it. Take your concerns with iWork and triple them. If you send work to someone who doesn't use LaTeX for comments, editing, etc, in all likelihood you're going to have them say "What the hell is this? .doc please."

    It's fine for final typesetting, solo work, or if your field uses it heavily, but it shouldn't be your only solution, especially as an undergrad.

    Personally, I use iWork and Office both. Excel blows Numbers out of the water, though Microsoft seems to be hellbent on ruining Excel. Keynote is vastly superior to PowerPoint. Pages versus Word is a little trickier. I find Pages to be slightly more "pure", so its easier to just hammer out text, and I haven't yet run into a problem with exporting and sharing.

    Be warned however, that while the latest EndNote is compatible with both, it wets itself when you export from Pages to Word or vice versa. If you're going to be collaborating heavily with EndNote users, its best to get what they already use.
  17. iCandii macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2010
    MS office '11 , u want to be compatible with your school/teachers etc, it's backwards compatible to older resound for ppl who haven't upgraded from office 03-07.

    Last thing u need is to write a 27 page research paper and turn it in just for it to not be a feasible document.

    U can get MS office dirt dirt cheap.
  18. prss14 macrumors regular


    Jul 18, 2009
    OpenOffice has worked just as well as MSOffice for me but is free. iWork is nice but for me wasn't very compatible with MSO. Try OpenOffice.
  19. jackc macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2003
    I think having to turn in a paper where you it needs to be editable is pretty rare, you could always submit a pdf. (I think converting to .doc is too risky and usually unnecessary, you never know what little glitches will show up). That being said, almost everyone will be using Word, so you could be asking for a headache at some point -- could always borrow someone's though.
  20. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    I agree with the above. Submitting an assignment in an editable format like .doc (or .txt, .rtf, .pages, etc.) is asking for trouble. Even different versions of Word can display things differently - especially between .doc and .docx formats.

    Unless specifically requested, submit your assignments a PDF files. All formatting and graphics will remain intact, your instructor can't screw it up accidentally and it'll be viewable on just about anything with completely intact formatting. If you submit your finished work as a PDF, you can use just about anything you choose to create it (Pages, MS Office, OpenOffice, NeoOffice, Nisus Writer, etc.).

    So if you prefer the more simplistic/easier/prettier Pages, or the more complex/comprehensive Word, you're covered when you output as PDF. That being said, if you're going to require tons of citations, review carefully your options and what they work with (i.e., EndNote, Bookends). And also consider as to whether or not you'll need to share documents for collaboration frequently or not.

    Also consider that at most universities, the full MS Office can be had for as little as $9 through campus bookstores depending on your school's deal with Microsoft.

    So, if you're inclined to try iWork, buy that first and see how it goes. If you need to switch to Office, it's a very cheap purchase usually for students.
  21. ThirtyThr33 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 13, 2011
    Boulder, Colorado
    WHAAAAAT?! No. I have never heard of such a... No.

    American Universities are in the business of grubbing your money. If they can get by charging $500 for MS Office they probably would
  22. tjb1 macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2010
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Cheapest I can get it at PennSate is $75...$9 my a$$. Guy must go to hogwarts or something.
  23. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Clearly you have no idea what yuo are talking about. Educational licenses are quite common. The sticker cost of the software is typically low and passed to the student by the taxpayer (for public universities) or otherwise included in tuition.
  24. tjb1 macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2010
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Still no where near $9 and im sure PennState has some pretty good connections...

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