Great Theoretical Ideas in Computer Science
BH 136A (the Adamson wing), TR 3:00-4:20P

LaTex Help

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 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 information:
LaTeX Help and Examples

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:

Here is Pat Riley's brief intro to LaTeX (from the 2000 version of 15-251)
  • His slides [ LaTeX | DVI | PostScript ] 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 /afs/cs/user/pfr/tex .
  • The most commonly used math symbols: [ LaTeX | DVI | PostScript ]
  • LaTeX quick reference card: [ LaTeX | DVI | PostScript ]
Getting Started with LaTeX (from the 1998 incarnation). [ PostScript ]
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 previous one.
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 LaTeX source has been posted along with the Postscript. If you're having trouble duplicating the mathematical symbols that we used in a homework assignment, try looking at the source.
More Online Resources
LaTeX Help 1.1
A comprehensive reference manual to LaTeX commands and environments, indexed by command name. Useful if you want to know the parameters to a particular command.
Another wonderful place for LaTeX
The Not-So-Short introduction to LaTeX. The PDF version is over 100 pages long, so think before you print.
The LaTeX Project Homepage
The official home
Software and Installation
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.) for Windows.
A useful mode to write LaTeX documents in Emacs: put (require 'tex-site) in your .emacs file.
Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN)
CTAN is a rich archive of software, styles, and help for TeX and LaTeX.
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 instead.
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 library 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 based.

© 2006 Carnegie Mellon University, all rights reserved.