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Re: Ubuntu vs. Debian (was Re: Introduction)

Miles Fidelman wrote:
> Johannes Wiedersich wrote:
>> Outside of high academia & the publishing industry, most people don't
>> care how ugly their printed documents look. 
> I think there are an awful lot of us in business, non-profits, and
> government who'd contest this.
> Not to mention those in the advertising and marketing arena.

I slightly overstated that, playing on the reply of Ron. I should have
better written that most people will never question their accustomed way
of doing things in order to get a better result. Maybe some Word users
will look around for Word options to make their documents 'look better',
but they won't notice that there are basic options missing in Word that
are *required* to print truly beautiful documents.

To take this further, one would have to argue about what is ugly. There
is a continuous scale from very ugly to very beautiful. Products like M$
Word cover the range from very ugly to somewhere in between. The very
beautiful end is accessible to professional typesetting systems only,
ie. TeX based systems like LaTeX or Adobe's InDesign.

These remarks are not intended to start a flame, but from the very
outset (La)TeX was designed with the very best finished result in mind,
enabling the user to typeset anything that would be conceivable to have
on paper, and to get it print to the highest possible standards. As an
example, all lengths in TeX and derivatives are calculated to a
precision better than the wavelength of light. It is therefore
inconceivable that one would ever have a printer that would print a
character or anything with a better resolution than that used by the

The handling of ligatures, line breaks, page breaks etc. by common word
processors is inherently of lesser quality [1]. If you print the same
.doc on two different computers with two different printers, the same
document will print differently.

This is *never* the case for LaTeX. If you tell TeX to draw a line of
10.000 mm and the printed line would turn out not to be exactly 10.000
mm, then you should complain to the manufacturer of the printer, not to
TeX. I have not investigated the achievable precision of Word, but
already the visible spacing between letters and words is clearly worse
than that of the same text typeset with LaTeX (using the same fonts).
Ie. Word's spacings deviate by more than 0.05 mm from what would be

> Larger organizations typically have fairly detailed standards for what
> documents have to look like,
> along with design departments, document templates, and so forth.
> Smaller organizations - at least smart ones - spend a lot of time on
> making documents look good,
> because image and presentation make a big difference.

It is disappointing that even professionals spending a fair amount of
time and money on their corporate designs and templates fail to realize
that the finished product in Word or OOo will never look as good as the
same text set with proper ligatures, optimal hyphenation, etc.

Just my humble opinion,


[1] http://nitens.org/taraborelli/latex

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