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I have a personal website, for things like posting my work from undergrad and grad school (I'm a recent grad student). The main reason is that I need to have an ePortfolio for my Master's degree, but the other reason is that I believe information should be free and accessible to everyone, so there's no harm in putting my academic research out there for the world to see. My website is nothing close to a professional or commercial site but I try my best to keep up with HTML5 specifications.

If I have papers in .docx or .pages format, what is the 'best' way to publish them to my website? I have a few options, but I can't decide which is the most user-friendly or efficient:

  1. Upload the file directly, prompting users to click a link to download it.
    • Advantages: no work needed on my part.
    • Disadvantages: users must download files to their hard drive to read; can edit/plagiarize.
  2. Save the file as .htm format (provided by Word) and upload.
    • Advantages: document opens directly in browser; cannot be edited easily.
    • Disadvantages: papers written in .pages format (a.k.a. with Pages) cannot be easily converted to HTML, and if possible, do not retain styles and formatting correctly; Word's HTML conversion is inefficient and abysmal.
  3. Print the document to PDF (can be done with a Mac) and upload.
    • Advantages: formatting, styles, layout, etc. are preserved exactly as seen; users cannot edit document; some browsers open PDF in new tab/window.
    • Disadvantages: some browsers require users to download the document to hard drive; PDF is separate from my website creating a feeling of discontinuity and non-uniformity.
  4. Upload the paper to a web app (such as Google Docs), publish, then link to it externally.
    • Advantages: save space by uploading paper to another server.
    • Disadvantages: discontinuity and non-uniformity; styles/formatting not exactly preserved; privacy trust in another company.
  5. Re-type the paper from scratch and upload it as a webpage part of my site.
    • Advantages: HTML elements and CSS styles exactly how I want them; document is streamlined and integrated with my site.
    • Disadvantages: it's creates a ton of work.
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

First, what is the purpose of posting your papers?
If you simply want them to be available, then for right now just use whatever's easiest, like uploading the .doc files, ideally with an in-page abstract so people know what they're getting. You can always go back and change this later. This will get you a site as soon as possible, with minimum effort if that's what you need. Google is capable of indexing the content of many filetypes, so things should still be findable eventually, though it could be more convenient. (I have no idea if it will index .pages files, though; note that document only refers to the "most common" they handle and shouldn't be assumed to be a complete list.)

If you want your papers to actually become part of the web, then ideally you'd put in the effort to do the HTML formatting and whatnot, even if auto-converted, as they're more directly indexable and maybe even more importantly, linkable that way. (And again: you can always go back and tweak later.) It also affords you the advantage of you linking out to any other papers you might be referencing, directly in the context of your paper with a hyperlink, when possible, rather than as just a bibliography item.

A few other bits:

  • People editing or plagiarizing your stuff is a risk with pretty much any of the options; get over it. The only way to eliminate the risk of plagiarism it to not publish.
  • PDFs aren't much more separate from your site than Word or Pages files. On the other hand, visitors are probably more likely to have a PDF viewer(eg. Adobe Reader) than Word or even worse, Pages.
  • Difficulty of editing once posted as HTML: ask yourself honestly how often a paper really gets modified once published. It's probably going to come up very little if at all; you can probably just disregard this.
  • If saving space by uploading to Google Docs is a serious consideration, that problem is probably better solved by getting more storage on your hosting account than introducing an entire third-party service to the workflow just to house your documents. If there are more reasons to use Google Docs, fine; otherwise, you're just complicating things.
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Why not let your users decide which is more friendly between two or three options? Personally I have some papers written in LaTeX and available for download as PDF and others written directly in HTML, but if you're worried about PDF being user-unfriendly you can easily make the documents available as PDF and as a link to a Google Docs file based on either the PDF or the Word document.

Word and Pages are horrible formats for download.

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