How to make life difficult for yourself

A posting on philos-l, on corner quotes:

Choose a common font such as Arial. You’ll find a good enough corner there somewhere. Copy the symbol you want so you have it on the clipboard, then paste it into a Word document. THEN shrink it, adjust the baseline shift, etc., and you’ll have as good a corner quote as any fancy font will get you.

So much easier than typing \ulcorner or \urcorner, eh?

I suspect that the reason we still see people talking about this sort of simply daft palaver with the awful Word has nothing much to do with some intrinsic difficulty in learning LaTeX (because basic mark-up is a piece of cake), but more to do with the off-putting look of the standard manuals which makes it seems that LaTeX is only for hard-core scientists and mathematicians, etc.

Partly that’s because the manuals spend a lot of time on LaTeX’s stunning maths typesetting capabilities, which is understandable. But also the tendency has been (especially in the Guide and the Companion) to write manuals that go absolutely clean against the LaTeX philosophy of separating structural mark-up from typographically fine tuning. So the manuals tell you e.g. both how to mark up a list and how to do all kinds of clever fine tuning in the same few pages, and hence they bury the terse headline news — all you really need to know — in a mess of unnecessary detail. I’m almost tempted to try my hand at writing a logically structured manual for non-scientists!

3 thoughts on “How to make life difficult for yourself”

  1. I’m sure a lot of people would very much appreciate a logically structured intro. to LATEX. Until that time, perhaps you might suggest a good intro. and just list the pages a beginner should read. That could save some of us a lot of time.

  2. Try “The not so short introduction to LaTeX” (easy to find on the web), written by four Austrian guys. It is a 145 pages manual. Logic students at the ILLC of Amsterdam, as well as many friends of mine in Madrid and Salamanca, were introduced into LaTeX through this manual, which keeps quite aside the structural and the typographical aspects of the typewritting.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top