Converting LaTeX to Word – part 2 (LaTeX2RTF)

In my last post, I explained how I used Pandoc to convert from LaTeX to Word (doc, docx) and Word-compatible (RTF) formats, but I had some issues with getting figure references and numbers to show up. Today I’ll explain how to use a nice program called LaTeX2RTF to achieve similar results and get everything to show up more or less as intended. This is Part 2 in the continuing saga. Part 3 (sometime in the future) will come back to Pandoc.

Today’s post includes:

  • Basic instructions on how to use LaTeX2RTF
  • Some pros and cons of using LaTeX2RTF
  • Sources of latex bibliography (bst) files

BTW, this post from 2011 is worth checking out too, as it mentions several other options for converting from LaTeX to another format.

How to use LaTeX2RTF to convert from LaTex to Word formats

  1. Download LaTeX2RTF here (I’m using the current Win32 version [latex2rtf-2.3.8_win.exe] but by the time you’ve read this there’s probably a newer version out, so check the website first)
  2. Follow the installation & usage instructions here
  3. Make sure you have a valid latex (tex) file, biblio file, bst file (for the citation style), and any other files you need for the file to compile properly
  4. Check out the jabbrv package if you need to use journal abbreviations in your citations
  5. Compile your latex file using your favorite latex editor/compiler so that you generate the .aux and .bbl files (normally you need to run latex -> bibtex -> latex -> latex)
  6. Run LaTeX2RTF via either the command line or the GUI – I haven’t tried the command line option yet, only the GUI, and its usage is pretty self-explanatory
  7. Voila! You should have a nicely formatted document
  8. For issues, refer to the user’s manual or the support page

 Pros and Cons of using LaTeX2RTF

+ Pros

  • No effort required to get figure and table references to show up correctly.
  • Don’t need to worry about going through your 1000 references to find non-ascii characters (not a trivial task!) – if it compiles under Latex, it’ll work under LaTeX2RTF.
  • If you use the command line option, you can also predefine the output filename (like in Pandoc), as well as other options. If you use the GUI, the tex filename is used as the output filename by default. You may want to generate a different output filename to help your co-authors keep track of the current revision number/version.

– Cons

  • If you want to use a different citation style not already available for latex, it can be a real pain to create or edit a bst file (and this is one of the reasons I wanted to use Pandoc!).  Normally getting the right bib style file this isn’t a problem for IEEE or other technical journals, but then again, you don’t need to convert to Word to submit your manuscript there! For medical and social sciences journals, you may very well be unable to find a suitable bst file. An alternative is to find a similar citation style and just manually correct the references by hand. This isn’t my preferred solution because you risk making mistakes if you change the references during one of your revisions (that may not seem like a big deal now, but just wait til you’re ready to click “Submit” and one of your co-authors asks for one last revision that changes all your references around!).  Eventually I did find the BST file I needed. See below.
  • I haven’t found any other negative points for LaTeX2RTF, to be honest. 🙂 It’s possible that it can’t handle specific LaTeX packages — if you’ve had problems, let us know in the comments below!

 Some sources of latex bibliography (bst) files


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