pages 09 for academic work (in humanities)?

I finally upgraded iwork 09 for Keynote. Last time I just deleted Pages and and Numbers pretty quickly, but I gave Pages 09 a shot and I really liked it for some reason. I feel like a tool. Before I start using it a lot: what are some limitations waiting for me? What will make me regret it all?

I even tried its Endnote integration (the uni I teach at has a site license…). Not bad at all. What’s happening? Maybe I just need pretty new things to look at while I turn this my boring dissertation into a mediocre book.


The biggest problem is that the .pages format is proprietary and files need to be exported to an intermediary format. That “might” (<-- key word) give you some unpredictability.

I use it. I just returned to school for a second Masters (I’m a masochist). I tried the MS Office 08 Trial but Pages does what I need it to. I write and organize everything in Scrivener and then export and finalize in Pages. No issues yet. I have a license to Nisus Pro as well and would probably use it if Pages starts giving me troubles.

I even use Numbers for my statistics class and it has actually worked pretty well.

I just wrote a non-fiction book with plenty of foot notes and finished (polished) the manuscript in Pages 09. I liked it a lot.
You should get this though:
It is a little tool that will automatically save your Pages document every few minutes (or even seconds, according to how you set it).
If, for whatever reason, you have to transport your Pages dcoument back into Scrivener you have to take a little detour via Word (which is what I did; I am sure there is other ways too). The Rich Text format of Pages somehow wasn’t understood by Scrivener; I first saved the Pages document as a Word doc, opened it in Word, saved it as a Rich Text document there and then could open it with footnotes etc. in Scrivener.


I work in both academic and creative environments. I trade Pages files with students and colleagues all day long, and I’ve yet to have a single problem on my end or theirs.

Export from Pages gives you four choices: PDF, DOC, RTF, or TXT. Embedded links work, comments are readable, foot and end notes compatible. Pages will import DOC, DOCX, RTF, and TXT. I’ve had no trouble with the first two formats. (And Scrivener will read the second two.)

I never upgraded to Office '08 because it was a resource hog and the interface too complex. Pages is cheap, clean, fast, and solid. Students will have no problems using it. Here are two key tips:

  1. To set Pages as your default word processor: select a DOC file on your hard drive, Get Info (Cmd-I) and choose Always Open With…and select the Pages application. Then double-clicking a DOC or DOCX file will open Pages. (You may also Control-click on a file and choose Pages from the drop-down menu)

  2. To send a Pages file to a Word user, chose either File: Export or Share: Via Mail. Export will create a Word file to save on your hard drive; Share mails a DOC file without saving one to your hard drive.

PS: I would NOT delete Numbers. It reads Excel files and writes them, via the same Export or Share method. And I find it a LOT easier to use, but then I’m no math major. :open_mouth:

The big problem with Pages - which is only a problem if you are using it in conjunction with programs other than Word - is it’s very poor RTF support. Although it uses fully customised DOC and DOCX importers and exporters which support most of the features of those formats, it still relies on the standard OS X RTF importers/exporters which don’t support headers and footers, footnotes, comments or images. (I hacked the RTF importers/exporters to provide all of those features for Scrivener; it’s not difficult so I have no idea why Apple refuse to improve them for Pages.)

The standard OS X importers/exporters for DOC and DOCX - the translators that all third party software is left with - have the same limitations as Pages’ RTF translators: they ignore footnotes, images etc. But because DOC and DOCX are proprietary formats (unlike RTF), it is very difficult for anyone outside of Apple or Microsoft (or with a massive team of programmers handy) to write custom translators for these formats (whereas RTF is manageable).

The result of this is that Pages has great DOC and DOCX support but shoddy RTF support, while many third-party programs (such as Scrivener, Bean and others) have great RTF support but poor DOC and DOCX support. This means that round-tripping with Pages and maintaining features such as footnotes, comments and images is very difficult unless you are only using Word. The only workaround is to use Word as an intermediary step, as Word fully supports RTF, DOC and DOCX. So, for instance, you would export from Scrivener as RTF, open the RTF in Word and save to DOC or DOCX, and then open that document in Pages. That’s a workable solution; it’s just annoying that Word is still a necessary intermediary, and that Pages therefore has yet to reach the stage where it can completely replace Word on your computer (even though it’s a much nicer word processor to use).

All the best,

Thanks! This is all good to know. I think I just might have solved a long-standing workflow problem!


My issues are with OLE object such as Visio diagrams embedded in DOC. Basically, pages has no idea what to do with these. I don’t know that M$ word on a mac would handle them better though.

The other frustration is fonts. I have found that unless I use the “common” font set word users say that formatting is off.

That said, I still use pages.

Keep in mind I am the odd “Mac guy” in a world of Win-blows users. Sounds like your environment my be a tad more Mac tolerant.

Um…yes. Goes along with our many courses on evolution and the varieties of religious practice. :open_mouth:

But, not to beat a dead horse; I’ve seen the shift here from Win dominance (80/20) to Mac efflorescence (75/25) occur in just the past ten years. And our IT folk have always preferred Unix. Students and faculty are strong for Mac; but often the staff are stuck with Win because the hardware is cheaper and administrators, especially VPs, have a strong enterprise mentality. As in lemmings bound for a cliff. :mrgreen:

Oddly, the “smart folks” here all associate my Mac use with a “religious fervor”. Might have more to do with my ardent dislike of M$ but …

Here (a world away from The City Mac use is discouraged in local academia as a “non-standard”, “irrelevant”, and “not a legitimate platform”. Granted this was a discussion involving superintendents, IT heads and other business minded types with no input from user base or teachers/professors.

As to the cost … I am not sure where the idea “Mac costs more” originates from these days unless it is related to the lack of extremely low end systems. Evidence: Because of my lack of degree I have to go through various “situational presentations” (aka test) every time I am up for promotion. The last was an exercise of a “case study based presentation for upper level management”. I decided that I would present something that I felt was a legit, yet off the wall idea of cost reduction by converting all sys-eng, developer, sys-admin, and midrange servers over to Apple. Having used the 2006-2007 stats (this was late '07 early '08) to develop the 2009/10 schedule I simply replaced the IBM/Dell contract numbers with Apple figures off the web site. As in no enterprise level contract negotiations. Straight hardware cost was a wash. Software costs were a different story. Apple was significantly less expensive and the savings, when applied just to my area, was nearly $1M/yr. I thought that might get some attention. When my review panel actually included the VP of my devision I figured I was SOL on the presentation as he is a big Win/Tel guy. Long story short, they ran my numbers through corp and figured that I have over estimated the Apple cost and Savings were over $1.2M without negotiated pricing. Not only did I wind up with the job, but the “other” half of IT is being forced to allow non-WinTel system full access to “internal” services (email, ldap, etc).

Blah blah blah. The only place that I can see Mac being non-competitive is the extreme low end. Do a like for like comparison and a MB13 is no more expensive than a Dell.

But the $1,000 Dell, after a few months goes on sale to make room for the new one with the spec-bump. So coupon savvy customers look for discounts and coupons and sales and they think they’re getting a great deal when they buy some $500 that used to be $1,000, nevermind that it’s going to be worth only $400 in a few weeks when the new spec-bumps come out. And then there’s the depreciation of resale value that by the time you’re done with it, you’ll be lucky to get $50 for it off eBay or Craigslist. But nevermind that. It’s all in how you present something that causes people to perceive value that isn’t there.

Apple doesn’t play that game. That $1,000 laptop will be $1,000 even when the new spec-bumps come out. But then Apple’s reputation for simplicity in product line and great tech support are why Apple can get away with it because the market rewards the computers with higher resale values which rewards Apple with more prestige. But more importantly, Apple doesn’t play that game because it’s a great way to lose money and perceived value.

So yeah, Macs are more expensive if you’re looking at 1) computers about to be spec’d out and 2) used computers. But, as I see it, they never cost more than their value and that’s something that penny-pinchers seem to lose sight of.