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Should I Use LaTex Or Word For My Dissertation?

Published by at April 9th, 2024 , Revised On April 9, 2024

The decision of which software to use for writing your dissertation can feel overwhelming. Two popular options are Microsoft Word, the familiar and widely used word processor, and LaTex, a typesetting system known for its technical prowess and professional output. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the ideal choice depends on your individual needs and preferences. 

This guide will discuss the key factors to consider when deciding between LaTex and Word for your dissertation. Let’s discuss further. 


LaTeX is a typesetting system used for high-quality document preparation, especially in academia and scientific publishing. It provides precise control over formatting and layout, particularly for complex documents like research papers, theses, and technical reports. LaTeX uses markup language to structure documents and is known for its professionalism and consistency.

Strengths Of LaTex

The advantages of using LaTex for your dissertation include the following:

Professional & Consistent Formatting

LaTex excels in producing high-quality, professional-looking documents. Its focus on typesetting ensures consistent formatting throughout your dissertation, from equations and figures to citations and references. This consistency is crucial for academic writing, where a polished presentation matters.

Superior Handling Of Equations & Math

If your dissertation involves extensive mathematical elements, LaTex is the clear winner. It offers a wide range of mathematical symbols and packages like Tikz that allow for the effortless creation of complex diagrams and figures. Word, while capable, can struggle with complex mathematical notation and formatting.

Efficient Bibliography Management

LaTex integrates seamlessly with bibliographic management software like BibTeX. This allows for effortless citation management and automatic generation of reference lists in various referencing styles like Harvard, saving you countless hours of manual formatting.

Version Control & Collaboration

Online LaTex platforms like Overleaf offer version control and collaboration features, enabling you to track changes, revert to previous versions, and collaborate with supervisors or peers easily.

Weaknesses Of LaTex

While LaTex does offer several benefits, here are some of the disadvantages of using it for your dissertation. 

Steeper Learning Curve

LaTex requires learning its syntax and commands, which can be challenging for users unfamiliar with coding or markup languages. The initial learning curve can feel daunting, especially for those accustomed to the user-friendly interface of Word.

Limited WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Editing

Unlike Word, LaTex doesn’t offer a direct WYSIWYG editing experience. You write the code, and the final formatted document is generated separately. This can make real-time editing and visualisation of formatting changes less intuitive.

Fewer Built-in Templates

While LaTex offers a variety of templates, the selection pales in comparison to the vast array of pre-designed templates available in Word. This can be a disadvantage if you prefer working with a pre-formatted structure and customising it as needed.

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Microsoft Word is a widely used word-processing software that allows users to create, edit, and format documents with ease. It offers a range of features such as spell check, grammar correction, and various formatting options. Word is part of the Microsoft Office suite and is popular for its user-friendly interface.

Strengths Of Word

Here are some of the advantages of using Microsoft Word for your dissertation. 

User-Friendly Interface

Word boasts a user-friendly interface that is familiar to most users. Its point-and-click features and visual editing make it easy to learn and navigate, even for those without experience.

This can be a significant advantage, especially for individuals tight on time or unfamiliar with coding concepts.

Extensive Built-in Features

Word comes packed with features like built-in citation management tools, track changes, and collaboration tools. While not as robust as LaTex’s integration with BibTeX, it offers a sufficient level of functionality for most dissertation projects.

Wide Template Availability

Word offers a vast selection of pre-designed templates specifically crafted for academic writing, including dissertation formats. This can save you significant time and effort in setting up the initial document structure and formatting.

Weaknesses Of Word

Following are the disadvantages of using Microsoft Word for your dissertation. 

Inconsistent Formatting

While Word offers formatting options, achieving perfect consistency across a complex document like a dissertation can be challenging. Manual adjustments are often necessary, which can be time-consuming and error-prone.

Challenges With Complex Equations

While Word can handle basic equations, it can become cumbersome and visually unappealing when dealing with complex mathematical expressions and symbols. LaTex offers superior handling and presentation in this regard.

Less Efficient Bibliography Management

Word’s built-in citation management tool can be adequate for simple projects. However, for complex dissertations, LaTex’s integration with specialised software offers greater efficiency and accuracy.

Additional Considerations

Consider these elements before choosing a tool. 

Departmental Requirements

Some departments may have specific formatting requirements or software preferences. It’s crucial to check with your department advisor or consult any available guidelines to ensure your chosen software meets any established standards.

Existing Skills & Preferences

Consider your technical comfort level and personal preferences. If you’re comfortable learning a new system and prioritising consistent formatting and efficient tools for mathematical expressions and citations, LaTex might be the better choice.

However, if you prefer a user-friendly interface and prioritise ease of use, Word could be a more suitable option.


Ultimately, the decision between LaTex and Word for your dissertation is a personal one. Weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each option in light of your specific needs, technical comfort level, and departmental requirements will ensure you make the best choice for successfully completing your dissertation.

Frequently Asked Questions

LaTeX offers precise control over document formatting and layout, particularly for complex documents like research papers and theses. It excels in handling mathematical equations, references, and bibliographies seamlessly. Additionally, LaTeX produces high-quality output and promotes consistency, making it favoured in academia and scientific publishing over the more flexible but less precise Microsoft Word.

Choose LaTeX for complex documents requiring precise formatting, such as academic papers or technical reports. It offers better control over layout and is preferred in academic and scientific circles. Use Word for simpler documents or collaborative work, benefiting from its user-friendly interface and compatibility with common office environments.

Consider LaTeX for thesis writing due to its superior control over formatting, especially for complex structures like equations and bibliographies. LaTeX ensures consistency and professional presentation, which is crucial for academic work. However, if unfamiliar with LaTeX or collaborating with others using Word, choose based on personal preference and practical considerations.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.