Tutorials and information about Latex

Why use LaTeX?

One of the advantages of LaTeX is the professional quality of the documents it can generate. This is especially true for documents containing formulas or equations, but LaTeX has many applications beyond mathematics. many applications beyond mathematics. Documents in chemistry, physics, computer science, biology, law, literature, music and any other subject you can think of can still benefit from the excellent print quality of LaTeX. benefit from the excellent print quality of LaTeX. A less obvious, but perhaps more important advantage is that LaTeX makes it possible to clearly separate document content and formatting. content and formatting of the document. As a scientist, researcher or writer, this gives you the opportunity to focus on the "what". opportunity to focus on the "what", the creative side of your work, on the generation and writing of ideas. of ideas. The system, in turn, will take care of the "how" of translating those ideas visually into a document. document. In addition, LaTeX automatically performs many tasks that might otherwise be tedious or cumbersome. tedious or cumbersome: numbering of chapters and figures, inclusion and organisation of the corresponding bibliography, maintaining indexes and cross-references. Finally, and for some this is also an advantage, all the software you need to edit, produce, view and print your documents is free of charge. This also means, for the pragmatists, that to install and use LaTeX on your computer, you don't have to spend a penny.

Why not to use LaTeX?

The aim of this guide is, of course, to convince you to try to learn how to use LaTeX. However, However, it is also useful to know in which cases it may be more advisable to find an alternative. alternative. Do not use LaTeX if : You do not have the time to learn it. Before you can use LaTeX, you must learn how to use it. These pages are intended to help you overcome that learning curve as quickly as possible. Without However, trying to learn LaTeX in order to write a document that you have committed to deliver in, say, less than 24 hours is not less than, say, 24 hours is not advisable. You have already written your document. It is common, for example, for a student to want to convert his thesis, already written in Word, to the written in Word, into LaTeX "format" to make it "look better". Although it is technically possible, I do not I do not recommend it because it is not easy and the results are often of very poor quality. LaTeX is much more than a "format" for saving documents, it is a complete tool whose main advantages start with the start with the process of creating the document itself. You are interested in document design. If your interest lies in the visual design of documents rather than in their than the content, LaTeX may not be the right tool for you. That is not why I want to scare designers and tell them not to use LaTeX, LaTeX needs designers and typographers too! designers and typographers! However, I do not recommend using LaTeX as a design tool, but as a platform that designers could use to create document "templates" with their own layouts. with their own layouts.

How to get LaTeX

Depending on your operating system, read the instructions for Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. Whatever your system whatever your system, you will essentially need the following three components: A text editor. This is the interactive application used to write .tex documents. Any simple text editor will do, but specialised LaTeX editors will give you quick access to the most common commands. will allow you to quickly access the most common commands for processing and displaying the documents you generate. you generate. A LaTeX distribution. This is the engine that takes care of converting your LaTeX source files into portable .pdf documents. portable .pdf documents. A document viewer. This is the application that allows you to view and print your LaTeX-generated documents. in LaTeX.