Fatal flaw for Pages to replace Word?

Okay, short of pagination issues,* I’ve come up with only one other problem in the world of Pages '08.
I downloaded a crit of mine from a website that saves things as .rtf files. No problem. Except that when I go to open the file with Pages, all the comments are gone. I open the exact same file on my PC with Word and the comments are there.

*Pagination issues: Pages formats things slightly different than Word. In my case, even with the same font and the same font size, pages exported as .doc or .rtf files print differently than the same files saved as .rtf in Word. I tried this with a few chapters of my manuscript and found that the .rtf file printed from Pages had an extra sheet in between chapters breaks on a couple on two of the chapters.

While this might not be a deal breaker for anyone, I thought I’d pass it along. Otherwise, I have sucessfully and easily been able to send and recieve files without losing a single comment or track changes markup. In fact, it’s easier to see/use the track changes and comments in Pages than Word.

I’ve been quite reluctant to put Word on my Mac since I’ve read all the horror stories of it crashing/hanging Macs. I’d rather put the file onto my PC already running Word and just double check it before I send a final copy to editors/agents.

I’d still much rather use my Mac for writing the initial MS as I could never go back to writing an entire MS in anything other than Scrivener.

This is indeed the fatal flaw of Pages, and why I won’t recommend it to anyone just yet. Pages simply does a terrible job of reading RTF files. It strips their headers, footers, comments, footnotes and images. In fact, Pages’ RTF support is the same as TextEdit’s.

To me, this is disastrous, and unacceptable. Pages only supports three formats fully - .pages, .doc and .docx. All three of which are very difficult for other Mac applications to support fully because a) there is no .pages importer/exporter provided to developers by Apple and b) the default .doc and .docx importer/exporter that is provided by Cocoa is as crippled as Pages’ RTF one. RTF, on the other hand, is much more trivial to support. Although Scrivener started out with the standard Cocoa RTF importer/exporter (which has the same limitation as Pages’), because the RTF is an old standard, and merely a mark-up syntax in a plain text file, it has been straightforward (though not easy) to extend the support for footnotes, images and so forth.

RTF is a standard across both Mac and Windows - where a lot of applications use the rich text control, the equivalent of OS X’s text view, which can save to RTF easily. By not fully supporting RTF - which would take the Pages programmers all of a day or two to fix up - Pages can only replace Word as a one-stop shop. That is, it is only any good if you only use Pages but have to send files to or receive files from Word users. If you need to interact with other programs, forget it.


I’ve never understood why either Pages or the Cocoa RTF support is so craptastic. One of the reasons that I use Nisus instead of Word and only use Pages for projects where I need easy layout capabilities.

It’s simple. They’re making use of decades of development to make the average user’s experience fun and elegant looking without pulverizing the developers. They look to professionals to tell them what the average users will like . . . eventually, and eventually, they get around to fixing the professional problems.


I’ve mostly migrated to Pages for my writing day job, since I deliver most of those pieces in the body of an email as it is. I’ve adjusted to almost everything but one peculiarity, which is that I can’t seem to turn off what in Word is called “Page View”: There seems to be no way to view a Pages document without the page breaks being visually represented as the actual bottom and top of “paper” pages. The one thing I miss from Word is “Normal View,” where the document is displayed as one continuous page of text.

One of the best features in Word are the four Views: Normal for quick display, Outline for document structure, Page for print preview, and Notebook for…hmmm, guess I never used that. I also like Navigation Pane, to show a left-side outline of a long document. Nisus and Mellel both have similar features.

If the Pages development team would get on the ball, we’d have smart RTF import and more Views of a document, at least comprising Normal, Outline, and Page. At the moment, the only extras are Page Thumbnails and Styles Drawer, which are not as versatile as Word’s Views. I especially miss Outline, which lets me compress a long document into a single screen of headers and sub-headers.