Fixes in Export to Word

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Fixes in Export to Word

Post by laup » Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:00 pm

A number of users have urged achieving "good" export to Word as a priority. I agree. That might be a herculean task, but my guess is that fixing a finite set of problems would go a very long way. It might be useful to Eyal et al if we collect known problems. Here is my list. I have not established that all still exist; nor have I attempted diagnosis. Nor do I list very desirable features such as maintaining styles when exporting or mapping Mellel styles into the styles of a Word template document. Others?

Pagination Exporting leads to pagination changes, which can be disruptive and undercuts the value of writing in Mellel with cross references to pages, etc.

Front-Matter Pagination Often, front matter paginated by i, ii, ... exports to Word as 1, 2.,, and, as I recall, there is no repagination when one starts the main body of the text.

Footnotes and Endnotes. The combination sometimes exports badly, as in the export turning arabic numbered footnotes into roman numbered footnotes. Word itself has problems with both footnotes and endnotes. Documents exchanged between Mac and PC users may get fouled up.
As a separate matter, in an experiment this morning, double-spaced footnotes exported as single spaced.

Table Styling Exporting tables means the loss of styling, such as thick borders on some rows or columns, colored backgrounds in some cells, and probably some other things. This is a royal pain to fix by editing the Word document. I especially like being able to color-code cells, as in stop-light tables, which are ubiquitous in certain kinds of writing.

Figures I have had trouble exporting figures in the past, but I am not sure that is still a problem. We want to be able to export .png, jpeg, and pdf figures without difficulty. Further, and this is a problem, placement needs to be stable. I prefer in-line figures, wrapped, and centered. That's not the Mellel default (I think it should be), but--as a I recall--if the figures are not so specified--export problems occur. Editing in Word is nonintuitive.

Equations I use MathType. A problem exists in Mellel in that equations in the same line as text are elevated 3 points, but that can be edited in Mellel. Export, however, is definitely a problem. When I experimented today, such an equation appeared in Word left justified, on top of text.

CONCLUSIONS The problems are numerous but finite. I suspect that "solution" will also require some admonitions in documentation (e.g., if you use ___, ____, or ___, anticipate the need to check and edit the export. Also, since Mellel and Word have some features that are not shared, an interface might be needed in which the user would specify how to handle ambiguous mappings.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I know that the Redlers folks want to look forward to things like iPub, but I think that the export-to-Word problem will be more profound for years to come.

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