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Authors rejoice! Pages for iOS now does a better job round-tripping to MS Word


One of the very few remaining reasons why I don't go all "Ticci" and do all of my writing on the iPad is that when I'm writing books for traditional publishers, they have a tendency to get queasy with anything that isn't written in Microsoft Word. Since they also like to keep an eye on what changes authors are making to documents, change tracking has to be turned on in Word all the time. So in the past, the vast majority of my offline writing has been done in Word on a Mac just to keep those publishers happy.

Not any more. Through a happy experiment this morning, I found that Pages (for both Mac and iOS) now does a much better job of round-tripping with Word. That's the term for shifting a document back and forth between different applications on different platforms, hopefully without too many formatting changes happening in the process.

So here's my workflow:

  • Open Word document from editor in Pages (currently version 5.0.1) on the Mac
  • Turn on change tracking in Pages (Edit > Turn On Tracking)
  • Save Pages document to iCloud
  • Open Pages document on the iPad or iPhone
  • Make sure change tracking is turned on (tap the "Wrench" button, then make sure the change tracking button is green [on])
  • Work on the document anywhere at any time, and changes are auto-saved to iCloud
  • Once back on the Mac, open the document in Pages on the Mac
  • Export as Word .doc or .docx

Sure, it would probably be a lot easier for me to just do the editing on my MacBook Pro, but it weighs more than my iPad Air or iPhone and it's owned by my employer, so it's probably not a good idea to work on a side project on it...

Is this a perfect solution? No. My book editor came back almost immediately saying that the tables in one chapter weren't formatted properly, so I'll need to fix them in Word before shipping the files off. But other than that, it's comforting to know that I can now do this work on an iPad or even an iPhone (see title image) from basically anywhere.

If you're doing any round-tripping between iWork for iOS or Mac and Microsoft Office, what problems are you running into? Do the current versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers work better for you for round-tripping than they used to? Let us know in the comments.

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