Pages (iWorks '08) good for academic/thesis work?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by adjones, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. adjones macrumors member


    Nov 14, 2007
    Hey all,

    I am getting a new iMac (switching to Mac from Windows) and I am looking at the iWorks suite as a cheaper (be it with a few less features) substitute for MS Office Home addition.

    This is mainly for my girlfriend to use in completing her masters degree thesis in Pages but I need to make sure that it is able to do the things that she uses in Office.

    These are namely:

    References and footnotes.
    Indexing by header type.
    Doing tables (including importing info from excel spreadsheets that are outputted from her various stats software).
    Adding complex mathematical formulae.

    Can anyone who knows if these can be done, or has experience doing thesis/dissertation work in Pages can let me know their thoughts then that would be most helpful.

    Many Thanks
  2. Jaschr macrumors member

    May 27, 2008
    I would say all is good until you mentioned formulas. I read that numbers is weaker in that aspect. Office is good for that. Or Neo Office is ok, but it is free to download.
  3. t0mat0 macrumors 603


    Aug 29, 2006
  4. swiftaw macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Absolutely it does, use it all the time.
  5. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus


    Mar 10, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    Well, there is LyX, but it has - traditionally - been troublesome to install...because you need a working TeX system already installed...but when installed it works great.

    Edit: Seems maybe the TeX install has become easier with MacTeX.
  6. swiftaw macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
    I use TeXShop ( as the latex front-end. It also does an excellent job of talking you through the installation of the tex system (which is actually quite simple now with mactex
  7. Luzzio macrumors regular


    Feb 12, 2008
    Exporting from iWork to Office format may be a little buggy, though I stopped doing that since April and only concentrated on one office suite, so that might be fixed. Not too sure about calculations... my work consisted mainly of tables.

    The iMac comes with a trial version of both Office and iWork if I'm not you could try them out yourself.
  8. adjones thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 14, 2007
    Well, the formula creation is more of a wish list, not essential. Good to know that there is at least one method available. I'll pass that onto her.

    I think I will do as one of you guys said and use the trial. How long is that for?
  9. SailorTom macrumors regular

    May 15, 2008
    Formulas in Pages

    Pages can pretty much handle anything Word does at a basic level. Pages does not have a formula editor integrated, but you can use equation editor (mathtype) then copy and paste the formula in to pages.

    I think word has better features for typing than Pages does, but if your writing a scientific thesis you check out MacTeX. Easy to install, bit of a steep learning curve but gives you excellent results. Its also free, which is a bonus.
  10. sclough macrumors regular

    May 23, 2008
    Kansas City, MO
    You may want to try something like Nisus . I haven't gotten around to trying it yet, but the reviews are very good and it seems well suited for what you want to do. I would think Pages is not the best fit for writing a thesis, but that's just me.

    She could always also use something like Scrivener (which is cheap) for compiling herwork and then export it for formating. I really like Scrivener for organizing and putting together notes and things in creating a long document, but it depends on how you work.
  11. adjones thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 14, 2007
    Thanks again for everybody's advice. I will go for the trial only and point her in the direction of some of your suggestions.

    If we decide to go for iWorks how do we activate the full package? I am based in the UK. Do I phone someone up and they send me the disks or do I just get an email with a code? I am just thinking about the speed of turnaround once committed.

  12. exegete77 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 12, 2008
    Nisus Writer Pro and Mellel make excellent academic word processors. Mellel 2.5 (due out this week) has superb cross-references, and from reports are far better than anything out there.

    From the developer: "With X-refs we've tried, more or less, to create a state-of-the-art feature (i.e., FrameMaker and then some)"

    Mellel also has multiple note streams, excellent auto-titling, best style sheets (although different than any other program), and a usable outlining capability. It has a bit of a learning curve, but two days spent with the Users' guide will reap huge dividends.
  13. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    I believe that there is a link from the software demo. Then you enter your credit card into a website and get emailed a code to unlock the software. It's pretty much instantaneous.
  14. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I vote strongly in favour of the TeXShop solution.

    My Master's thesis was several hundred pages long, and contained dozens of figures, formulas, captions, footnotes, etc. Writing it in Word got very unwieldy at about the 100-page mark. Not only was Word beginning to slow to a crawl, but it was very difficult for me when I was writing something in chapter 7 and realized I needed to check something in chapter 2. Lots and lots of scrolling back and forth.

    The final straw came when Word finally started crashing and corrupting my document. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get the recovered file to open again without crashing. I switched to LaTeX and never looked back!

    The files are plain text so they're fast and easy to edit. I broke it up so each chapter is its own file, all included into one master file, and I can easily have multiple chapters open at a time for quick reference. Because you're only looking at the raw text, you can just write and write and write and not be bothered by formatting issues. Also, a dozen-page chapter fits in just a few screens of plain text, so you see more while you're editing.

    References and footnotes are taken care of (semi-)automatically. ALL formatting is taken care of by a LaTeX template that I customized to meet my university's exact formatting requirements (think HTML and CSS). Yes, there was a bit of a learning curve, but I absolutely loved the results. I was even able to open the damaged Word document in a text editor and save most of my lost work.

    I don't know how reliable Pages is, but on my machine it was even slower than Word, and would not personally trust it for such an important document.
  15. adjones thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 14, 2007
    I'll pass this on to her thanks... looks good.

    Cool, that's good to know.
  16. iamvexed macrumors member

    May 27, 2008
    I, too, must strongly recommend LaTeX. I wrote my dissertation with it, and it saved many, many headaches that my peers using Word encountered. It is well worth learning how to use, especially for those using complicated formulae.

    I've also had nothing but good experiences with TeXShop, both on my iMac and my PowerBook.

    Good luck with whatever decision you make!
  17. dollystereo macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2004
    I am a Math Student, and I use LaTeX a lot, I have Mactex 2008 and Texshop as editor. I you want to use any Iwork program (Keynote or Pages) with Latex formulas, you can import them very easy with Latexit, it Comes installed with Mactex, and is a little utility that lets you transform one equation in a PDF super quality image, so just drag in your presentation, and you have Latex in Iwork. So if you dont like the Texshop -like editor, you can try this setup.
    (Personally, Texshop is the best thing to go, everyone writes papers in Latex with editors like this one)

    Attached Files:

  18. davidjearly macrumors 68020


    Sep 21, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland
    This is a vote for Pages 08.

    I used it to write my entire thesis with and it was perfect for the job. I had zero problems or crashes.

    I wouldn't bother with Word for such a task and I would rather spend time writing than learning the other methods mentioned.
  19. err404 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    Depending on her field, the APA formatting requirements for her masters thesis could be extremely particular. Do not risk exporting from one word processor to another at the last minute. While exporting is fine for most office work, the details in formatting often take a hit.
    I recommend finding the right tool early and sticking with it.

    If they require a softcopy, she should get advice from the professor on what format to use.

    BTW - Pages is good word processor, but it is a bit more limited in formatting flexibility. For example you can't have headers and footers at the same time.
  20. adjones thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 14, 2007
    This is something that I think I'll need to leave her to test out herself. The degree is a masters in environment management and law and is classed as a Law degree so they are bound to be formatting requirements etc.
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
  22. mac.v21 macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2008
    mathematical equations and scientific symbols

    If you have to deal with lots of equations and scientific symbols, you should find MathMagic equation editor very useful.

    mathMagic works well with Pages, Keynote, Nisus, and Mellel.

    MathMagic installer disk image comes with lots of symbol fonts and Greek fonts in TrueType or OpenType so you can use those fonts in your documents for free as well.

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