As you might be aware, I decided to give the LaTeX typesetting system a try last month. After a brief trial, I wrote about how I wasn't sure about it, but the ensuing conversation made me think that it was worth giving it a serious try. So I'v been giving it a serious try. Since Anon 7:31 asks for an update, here's an update.
There are things I like about it. I like the way the resulting documents look. I really, really like the way it handles bibliographies. I like using BibDesk to manage my references--I had been using a spreadsheet before, and this is way better. I don't mind the text-editor feel of the text editor. I set the thing to display in the same typeface I set the completed documents in, so it doesn't look particularly ugly.
I have a number of teaching- and research-related projects going right now, and I'm finding that the process of converting an existing document to LaTeX affords a nice opportunity to rethink my way through the paper in a deep and comprehensive way. There is so much nuts-and-bolts-type stuff you have to do in terms of retyping quotation marks and hyphens and reemphasizing and italicizing text that every sentence requires at least a little scrutiny.
Another of my projects is a first draft. So far drafting in LaTeX is not that different from drafting in Word.
I still kind of don't like the footnotes. I find it hard to see where they end, since it's just a relatively small green curly bracket. Using percentage signs, as was suggested in the previous thread, to interrupt the text makes them stand out more, but at the cost of breaking up the paragraph, which should be thought of as a single continuous unit.
It's still slightly weird that you read one document but edit another. Noticing a typo in your reading copy means you must open up another document, edit it, and then convert it to pdf. Of course, you have to do that in order to make a pdf out of a word document, too. But since the TeX documents are laid out in very different ways--one of them has lots of commands and stuff while the other one sort of obeys those commands--finding the place in the TeX file that corresponds to the same place in the PDF can be hard to do.
I also miss one thing about MS Word, and that is the easy insertion of comments into word documents and the way that these comments can be anchored to the editable bits of text they are about. I can do this to PDFs because I have the full version of Adobe Acrobat, but last I checked, the free version of the reader does not support the creation or the reading of this kind of comment. And not everybody has access to the full versions of Adobe. I'm sure that there's some free PDF reader that works almost as well, but not everybody has that, too, neither.
But I guess the main reason I'm likely to stick with LaTeX is that it is not MS Word. I did not and will not buy the "new" '07 and '08 version of Word, and my obsolete and outdated version is becoming more so. But as we transition from "Yeah, the new version is expensive and has a counterintuitive user interface" to "Really? You're still using that????!!?" I'll probably need to stop using Word altogether, or using it only in a very limited capacity.