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Best book for learning latex

  1. Feb 20, 2012 #1
    what is the best book for a complete beginner to learn latex? I have a little bit of coding experience in matlab from a 1 semester intro course but other than that I know nothing about programming.

    I really want to learn latex though so I can take notes in math classes on my laptop :wink:
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 20, 2012 #2
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  4. Feb 20, 2012 #3
    Taking notes on your laptop, and furthermore typesetting them in LaTeX in class is terribly inefficient and generally a bad idea. You'll spend more energy on the typesetting than absorbing the lecture content, and, depending on the lecture, you likely won't be able to keep up.

    However, LaTeX is an extremely useful typesetting language when writing assignments, so I reccomend you learn it.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  5. Feb 20, 2012 #4


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    I agree with espen. It's a bad idea. Just make notes with a pen and paper, and type them up afterwards if you think there's something there worth saving.

    I don't think you need a book actually, but having one can't be a bad idea. The first thing you should do is to download some LaTeX software, create a document and start typing stuff into it. When there's something you don't know how to do, Google it.
  6. Feb 21, 2012 #5
    There are many people (mostly grad students) who live-Tex their class notes. This is not an unreasonable thing to do if:
    a) you are a very good typist
    b) you are very fluent in Latex

    Try doing your assignments in Latex first. I am pretty good at bashing out Latex, but would never do it in lectures, myself.

    However, you can check out these tips if you are keen:

    There is also the first post in this thread:

    As for books, why bother? The net is full of Tex advice.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  7. Feb 21, 2012 #6
    thanks for your response, and ya I think I will start out typing assignments or retyping my handwritten notes until I get up to a decent speed. From your posts it looks like you can have shortcuts (macros I think they called it?) for common symbols or whatever so I will have to look into that.
  8. Feb 22, 2012 #7
    Yes, you can define your own (shorter) commands for commonly used ones. That helps a lot, even for assignments. Having a good editor is important as well, since it should have built-in keyboard shortcuts for many things.

    Try to build good typing habits. I never kept the discipline long enough and my speed plateaued because of poor form.
  9. Feb 22, 2012 #8

    what editor do you recommend?
  10. Feb 22, 2012 #9
    I use LEd and Texmaker. Both work fine for me.
  11. Feb 22, 2012 #10


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    I'm using LEd. I like it enough to not want to switch, but I've had some difficulties with it. I remember that when I first installed it, I had some issues getting everything to work, and when I tried to do it months later on another computer, I wasn't able to get the previewer to work. It also has a feature that can be really annoying. When I type stuff involving ^ and I do something wrong...I think it's when I hit the spacebar before releasing the ^ key, a large section of text is highlighted and then deleted when I press the next key. (Fortunately, there's an "undo" feature as well). Also annoying is that it doesn't save any configuration settings. If I want something changed, I have to change it every time.

    There are other threads where LaTeX software is discussed, so you could try a search.
  12. Feb 23, 2012 #11
    I use Kile (under Linux/KDE) with Okular as my viewer. I understand that Texmaker has a similar layout but is cross-platform. I have only poked at it for a few minutes, though.
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