LaTeX is a typesetting program that works a lot like html: mostly
it's just text as you would normally type, but there are tags and
formatting, and looks impressive when compiled. The process can be more
painful than word processors at first, but with a good template (provided
below) and some basic knowledge you will soon discover yourself making
lists and tables and inserting pictures and complicated math easily and
without trying to strangle smarmy, unhelpful paper-clips. Also it just
looks a lot better.
The Short Version
If this is your first experience with LaTeX, probably the first
thing you should do is take a look at what you can do with it: [ PostScript, PDF ]. The LaTeX source for those files is
available here, with the
extension changed to txt for
internet viewing, and with the examples stripped. You are encouraged, though not
required, to use it.
LaTeX Help and Examples
- Latex is already installed on andrew. If you are looking at a
unix prompt, you can simply do the following:
- Type latex homework.tex to create homework.dvi
- Preview the document by typing xdvi homework.dvi . If
you run this in the back ground ( xdvi homework.dvi & ), then
it will automatically update as you update the .dvi file; just click
on the document and your changes will be incorporated.
- When you are happy with your homework, type pdflatex
homework.tex to convert to pdf, or dvips homework.dvi
to get the postscript output, which can be sent to a printer.
- For Windows, try the popular MikTex, which has a
downloading tutorial with pictures that will take you right through
compiling and viewing a sample latex file. After installing MikTex,
you might want to follow up with TexNic
Center, a GUI editor which will allow you to click on the
mathematical symbol, list environment, code environment, font size,
etc., that you want, which probably makes it strictly better than Word
for writing up your homework.
- That's it for interface; as for actual Latex - it ignores spacing;
"\\" means newline. You must surround math with dollar signs,
e.g. $2^n$. 2^n in the middle of text is an error. For more
If this is your first experience with LaTeX, we recommend you start
with the following resources. The best way to learn LaTeX is by seeing
how it's done. Take a look at these documents (the source and the output
side by side), and you should have enough to get going:
More Online Resources
- Here is Pat Riley's brief intro to LaTeX (from the 2000 version of
- His slides [ LaTeX |
The LaTeX file might not compile on your machine, since Pat used a lot
of macros, and style files. The files are under the AFS directory
- The most commonly used math symbols: [
- LaTeX quick reference card: [
- Getting Started with LaTeX (from the 1998 incarnation). [
- This short introduction gives an overview of the basics: creating
and processing a LaTeX document, fundamentals of LaTeX syntax, and
dealing with errors.
- Another homework template
(with corresponding Postscript).
- This is an example LaTeX document without all the examples of the
- The "official" LaTeX sample
source (with corresponding
Postscript), by Leslie Lamport.
- Taken straight from the LaTeX distribution.
- 15-251 handouts.
- Many of our handouts are written in LaTeX. You'll find that their
has been posted along with the Postscript. If you're having trouble
the mathematical symbols that we used in a homework assignment, try
at the source.
Software and Installation
- A comprehensive reference manual to LaTeX commands and environments,
by command name. Useful if you want to know the parameters to a particular
Another wonderful place for LaTeX
The Not-So-Short introduction to LaTeX. The
version is over 100 pages long, so think before you print.
- The LaTeX Project
The official home
- LaTeX, Emacs
etc. for your PC
- If you are installing LaTeX and Emacs on yr PC, here are step-by-step
details on how to do it right.
- TeX/LaTeX and the associated utilities (METAFONT, BibTeX, dvips, etc.)
- A useful mode to write LaTeX documents in Emacs: put (require
'tex-site) in your .emacs file.
- Comprehensive TeX Archive
- CTAN is a rich archive of software, styles, and help for TeX and
- A GUI editor for Windows
- Cygwin is a Linux emulator for Windows. While it contains LaTeX as one
of its installable packages, you may want to consider using MikTeX
- TeXShell is a LaTeX editor. It features a reasonably
large help menu and templates. These settings for the program
call might be useful if you were having any trouble:
- TeX: latex %F.tex
- Logfile: %P%F.log
- DVI Previewer: yap -1 -s %l%f%e "%P%F.dvi"
- Xemacs is available for multiple platforms including Windows and Mac.
Very handy for editing LaTeX source.
- Lamport, Leslie. LaTeX:
A Document Preparation System. Addison-Wesley, 1994.
- The official LaTeX reference manual. It's on reserve at the E&S
here. If you're serious about learning LaTeX, you might want to buy it.
- Kopka and Daly. A
Guide to LaTeX2e: Document Preparation for Beginners and Advanced
Users Addison-Wesley, 1995.
- This book has many practical examples about how to get LaTeX2e to
do what you want.
- Knuth, Donald. The
Texbook : A Complete Guide to Computer Typesetting With Tex.
Addison Wesley, 1988.
- A reference manual for TeX, the typesetting system on which LaTeX is