Converting Latex to MS Word docx (almost perfectly)

Many of students and academics write academic papers and reports on Latex mainly for ease of formatting and of managing citations plus bibliography. However, collaborative editing Latex tools have not reached the level of versatility and convenience of Microsoft Word. We then often begin writing the paper in Word when major comments, additions and changes are made, and later reorganize it Latex: a waste of sharp people’s time.

A way around this hurdle is to use Pandoc to convert Latex files to Word documents. If using Linux and want to use apt-get, you should run sudo apt-get install pandoc pandoc-citeproc. To run Pandoc on a Latex document:

  1. Open a terminal (on Windows, hold the Windows key and press “r,” then type “cmd” in the command bar)
  2. Use the “cd” command to navigate to the folder where your Latex document it.
  3. Type pandoc -s my_latex_document.tex --bibliography=my_bib_file.bib -o resulting_word_document.docx.

Now you should have a word document with all your bitmap (png, jpeg, bmp, etc.) figures, equations in Word format and with a bibliography as you would have from Latex based on your citations and bib file. If the latest version of Pandoc does not work, try version 1.19.1.

There are some known limitations, though. Numbering and referencing equations, figures and tables, and referencing sections will not work and you will have to number those by hand. This limitation seems to apply only to word documents, other formats working with Pandoc reference filters plus the appropriate Pandoc calls and specific latex syntax (see filters’ pages for details). Also, vectorized figures will not be included in the document, although bitmaps (png, jpeg, bmp, etc.) and corresponding captions will.

Hopefully some skilled programmer feeling like generously volunteering his time for the Latex academic cause will address the mentioned limitations soon. Until we can thank someone for taking care of these limitations with clever coding, we will have to take care of them by hand.



3 thoughts on “Converting Latex to MS Word docx (almost perfectly)

  1. I’ll have to try this. If I don’t need to include a bibliography I suppose I just leave out the bibliography part of the command. Is that right?

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