General LaTeX information

For the curious These pages are really intended for those who already have some familiarity with LaTeX. But if you have reached this page and are curious, then read this classic LaTeX advocacy (and for more advocacy about the beauty of the output see here). My quite short introductory guide to the ‘LaTeX Philosophy’ will help give you a clearer sense of what it is all about.

Getting started  Getting Started with LaTeX is short and introductory: but there is a great deal of similar material out there. Go, for example, to this Cambridge intro page of useful links. There is also a mass of on-line documentation linked at the TeX User Group.

Learning more It can produce wonderful output, and once you get the hang of it, the basics of LaTeX are simple. But it can be a bit of a brute to beat into submission if you want to go beyond basics. For help, there is a mass of online documentation, as those “Getting started” links show.  But let’s mention especially The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX and the LaTeX wikibook. For (a lot) more there is a 4th edition of Kopka and Daly’s Guide to LaTeX and a giant 2nd edition of The LaTeX Companion. While neither is perfect, both can be strongly recommended.

A better LaTeX class The memoir class (Peter Wilson, Lars Madsen, 2001 – 2020) is a major LaTeX add-on which is well worth highlighting here as it (a) is not covered in the Companion, but (b) is especially useful for anyone involved in writing long documents, logician or not. Its very long manual is full of good advice on digital typography. Here are illustrations of some chapter styles.

More fonts If you want a LaTeX document not to look like a standard LaTeX document use the memoir class to redesign the standard page layouts; and then use some fonts other than the default Computer Modern. For a review of what is available free, see The LaTeX font catalogue from the Danish TeX User Group. See also this page on recent LaTeX fonts (Michael Sharpe, 2014). Enthusiasts can also install their favourite commercial PostScript fonts to use: consult The Font Installation Guide (Philip Lehman, 2004: don’t be daunted — it is rather easier than it might initially seem), or Installing Fonts for LaTeX on OS X (Bruno Voisin and Bob Kerstetter, 2004).

When you need help Not to be used before you have consulted the plentiful online documentation linked at sources mentioned above. But there is an exceedingly helpful question/answer forum  for LaTeX users at http://tex.stackexchange.com.

LaTeX without tears Lyx is a front-end which allows you produce LaTeX documents without actually learning LaTeX. You can use it pretty much like a normal (though rather more intelligent) wordprocessor, and so it has a less steep learning curve than Latex. In addition Lyx has features which ordinary LaTeX editors lack, such as a document outliner, and change tracking. Some swear by it. Find out about it here.

Online and collaborative LaTeX Editors Many recommend Overleaf v.2 which combines the best of the old Overleaf and ShareLaTeX.

XeTeX — going beyond LaTeX You have to do some work to get standard LaTeX to play nicely with fonts beyond a narrow range. Further, while your editor will probably support directly typing e.g. accented characters and Greek, LaTeX requires you to enter using code. It would be nice to be able to handle fonts easily and to be able to use the capacities of your editor in text entry. XeTeX was designed to do this, while still handling (most) LaTeX commands. Here’s the  XeTeX page; and a XeTeX Companion. But development seems to have stopped some years ago.)

Updated 27 January 2020

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