Thoughts on development, design and the world we live in.

Getting Started in LaTeX

By Curtis Jennings Schofield in Uncategorized. Posted on July 25th

Jump Straight to Code Examples

Note: This post is not a substitute for reading:
The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2epsilon.

What is LaTex or Tex?

TeX was developed in 1977 by Donald Knuth. LaTeX was written on-top of TeX to give a few pre-defined layouts to ease the process of using the typesetting tool ‘TeX’. Donald Knuth wrote TeX to explore the new technology of the time — digital printers. The public version of TeX became available in 1984 and LaTeX began development in 1985.

A LaTeX command

The essential format of a LaTeX command is as follows :

Simply knowing the format of a LaTeX command or a TeX command is really not enough. You will encounter issues because the default output format is for the OT1 ( 7-bit ) character set. You will encounter issues because characters that you are using make no sense to the parser. Some of them may not have been invented at the time!

What does LaTeX/Tex care about?

LaTeX is a comprehensive library of macros and TeX concern itself with typesetting. The richness and sophistication of these tools are incredible and like any skill demands a quality of attention from the learner to use it correctly and to best effect.
LaTeX is not simple. TeX is not simple. If you want something really simple to work with - you will find nothing simpler than plain TeX — that simplicity however is not essentially usable without very comprehensive knowledge - LaTeX bridges the gap by giving a massive variety of macros and helpers to simplify layout and structure in your documents.

If you have the problem of laying out and typesetting english and other languages in a way that the document is ordered, structured and can be readable, and for some aesthetic, pleasing — If you want this problem to be simplified for the purpose of printing and utilizing various output technologies for various form-factors without time-consuming rework - then LaTex is a simpler solution.

In fact the problem is very sophisticated, intricate and complex.

Complex, but with LaTeX and Tex it need not be complicated — this assumes knowledge. There is certainly a learning curve to LaTex and Tex.

Fortunately there are is the wonderful ‘Not So short introduction to LaTeX‘ which declares you will need 157 minutes to read.

You can also find help from http://tex.stackexchange.com/ for many of your questions.

In the spirit of my beginning with this tool, I offer the following.

Some real Nitty-Gritty details for layout

How to layout an image (aka graphic) in the middle of the page without it floating to the next page ( or to the middle of some page far below)

How to layout code listings with a lovely caption and a frame around the code

What to do with quotes? (this one is important as ” is a right hand side quote)

What to do with inline < and >

What to do about : _ , $ , # , % , ^ , & , { , } , ~ , \

Note: This post is not a substitute for reading The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2epsilon.

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