I helped my friend, who never used LaTeX before, to convert her PG Diploma essay from a Word document into this system (for a molecular biology class). I convinced her that, with some learning, she could later produce better essays with LaTeX in shorter time, focusing on the content without worrying about the layout.
But she started to worry from the beginning.
She commented on the placement of large figures and tables which didn't fit immediately at the positions and pages where they called out. She was particularly concerned that these floating figures (placed professionally, I think, by LaTeX at the top of the following pages) "appeared in the wrong places in the middle of the next sections".
I explained to her that these automatic placements by LaTeX seemed "perfect" and "optimal" to avoid large white spaces left at the bottom of the pages; and that this approach is what we see in most professorially typeset materials (e.g., journal articles, and my thesis ;)).
However, the professor who later marked the essay commented that these positionings "look odd" and "broke the logical flow", and he seemed to prefer the "inline placement" of figures and tables. My friend now thinks that some points were lost because of this.
Should (such) layout and formatting issues in general affect the grading of student essays?
If yes, I assume this professor might not be familiar enough with professional typesetting practices, or he simply didn't like what he saw in the essay. Is he free not to accept the common professional typesetting practices in his course?