[R] Charts to M$Word - what's the best format

Marc Schwartz mschwartz at medanalytics.com
Mon Apr 14 19:14:18 CEST 2003

>-----Original Message-----
>From: r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch 
>[mailto:r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch] On Behalf Of Frank E 
>Harrell Jr
>Sent: Monday, April 14, 2003 9:45 AM
>To: Prof Brian Ripley
>Cc: r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch; tblackw at umich.edu
>Subject: Re: [R] Charts to M$Word - what's the best format
>On Mon, 14 Apr 2003 15:00:58 +0100 (BST)
>Prof Brian Ripley <ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk> wrote:
>> On Mon, 14 Apr 2003, Thomas W Blackwell wrote:
>> > I think maybe the question is, how do you import postscript
>> > into an M$Word document.  I am NOT a word user, but I had 
>to do this 
>> > some years ago and found that it IS possible to import
>> > 
>> > You do something like "import picture ... (some kind of generic- 
>> > sounding graphics format)", and it works fine.  The postscript 
>> > behaves very nicely once you get it in.  You have to play around 
>> > quite a bit, and try some very unlikely sounding possibilities to

>> > get it in, but it WILL work.  There are definitely some 
>> > in the documentation for M$Word (to put it charitably).
>> It just works in modern versions of Word under Windows, provided
>> have a postscript printer.  Insert | Picture | From file ... and 
>> select the file.  What does not work well is the preview, if the PS

>> file has one (which R ones do not).
>> Our secretaries were doing this (with S-PLUS figures) a decade ago,

>> and it
>> worked the same way then.
>> -- 
>> Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
>I have never understood why more people don't use this 
>approach.  Even without a postscript printer it is an 
>excellent approach; you can install Adobe Acrobat Distiller 
>and print to non-postscript printers (same with Ghostscript).
>Frank E Harrell Jr              Prof. of Biostatistics & Statistics
>Div. of Biostatistics & Epidem. Dept. of Health Evaluation 
>Sciences U. Virginia School of Medicine  

I think that part of the issue is how the Word (and related Office)
files will be used and by whom.  

If only by the person generating the file or immediate staff, such as
the scenario Prof. Ripley indicated, this is not a significant issue.

On the other hand, if you are going to send the file to a third party,
then there is the real challenge of the lack of portability to folks
without PS printing support and/or who don't like the lack of a PS
preview capability. At the risk of broad generalization, this is more
likely to be an issue with less technical folks and/or those who may
be in a industry business setting and may not have or may not be
comfortable with using third party or open source applications such as

For my own use, whether under Windows or Linux, I have the flexibility
of using whatever fits the task at hand, which may be PNG, PS or PDF
typically. I have GS/GSview installed under Windows, so I can go back
and forth easily. If I am printing the documents/graphics here (I use
an Oki 7400n color laser w/PS 3), then I have no other issues.

However, when I send Word or PowerPoint files with embedded graphics
to Windows based clients (which is almost all at this point), they
prefer it when I incorporate WMF graphics, which they can view and
print without using third party applications. WMF formats preserve
very reasonable quality and can be re-sized as needed, which
non-vector formats cannot be without losing image quality. They tend
to prefer this approach over using PDF files even after considering
the free availability of the Acrobat Reader. They want to be able to
open the attachment, see what they need to see, discuss it, perhaps
print it (not always) and move on. I consider this a "customer
service" requirement.

I suspect that this will change as more people become comfortable with
non-Windows platforms and open source applications, especially the
IS/IT support departments who will be "burdened" with the additional
training and support duties required by non-technical users. The
increasing adoption of OpenOffice (especially the next update version,
which will support the generation of PDF files) will also put
additional tools into the hands of mainstream Windows users and should
help broaden the options over time as companies look for ways to
reduce IS/IT costs by moving away from MS products.


Marc Schwartz

More information about the R-help mailing list