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Im an Electric Engineer student, should i start learning latex?

  1. Aug 16, 2010 #1
    Im an Electric Engineer student, should i start learning latex??

    Im an Electric Engineer student, should i start learning latex??
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2010 #2
    Re: Latex?

    If you want to publish articles or make really nice papers of any kind, then yes, absolutely.
  4. Aug 16, 2010 #3
    Re: Latex?

    How hard/easy is to learn it?
  5. Aug 16, 2010 #4


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    Re: Latex?

    You can find plenty of 'introduction to LaTeX' documents online. You'll need to run it somehow; if you have a Linux operating system it's probably already installed, if you have a Mac, download TeXShop, and if you're running Windows, try MikTex. It can have a steep learning curve for many people, and continue to frustrate long after, but does produce nice results, and most of my students picked it up fairly quickly.
  6. Aug 16, 2010 #5
    Re: Latex?

    eri ^ has a good response also.
    If you have any programming experience then it'll be a breeze. Otherwise, its a steep but brief learning curve; with LOTS of tutorials and help out there (not to mention templates).

    I'd recommend: the next time you have a paper or homework set or something, just type it up in latex; I think that's the easiest way to learn--pick up the pieces that you need to use at any given time.

    Good luck!
  7. Aug 16, 2010 #6
    Re: Latex?

    It's really not that hard to learn. And the end result is so worth it, if you're a aesthetic freak like I am :). Regardless, it's pretty much essential if you end up publishing or communicating using lots of math.
  8. Aug 16, 2010 #7
    Re: Latex?

    It depends on a few things. Though, when I started working with non-physics departments, it really surprised me to discover that hardly anyone outside of the physical sciences/mathematics actually uses latex - so it is by no means necessary.

    That said, I love latex (:smile:). It is a fantastic tool, and is exceptional if you're writing a particularly large document or something that is likely to need heavy editing.

    1. References are phenomenal. They auto-update, and bibtex saves typing all of the details of a paper you've read in.
    2. It looks great.
    3. It becomes extremely easy to organise large documents. Once you've finished with a section, you can simply comment it out of the compilation process and ignore it until you're finished the whole thing. You can split sections (or whatever denomination you chose) into different files. Then, if you decide sections need switching -you just change the order the files are used. No messy copy/pasting.

    1. References are now acceptably good in Microsoft Word, or with EndNote. (This isn't really the disadvantage, the disadvantage is that latex is far more complicated - and you can get the same result easily with a WSYWIG.)
    2. There will be many moments that will cause you to lose hair. Things like adding in pictures is no longer simple (I'm sure there will be arguments here.. but for someone starting out, it can be infuriating). Tables are not particularly easy to make, though there are macros that will convert an excel table, for instance.
    3. It takes a long time to become familiar with. I've been using latex to write papers for years, back since my undergraduate and I still regularly find things I don't know how to do.
    4. Finding the answer is rarely easy. For basic questions, there are hundreds of resources out there - wikibooks is an amazing source of information to start with. But, when you want to start messing with custom formatting, it can quickly become a nightmare.

    So, it depends how much value you assign to each of the advantages and disadvantages. There are of course more, but I'm tired and have just finished writing a paper in latex so I'm trying to avoid thinking about it too much.

    To answer your question more directly: don't learn latex simply because you're an EE student. It isn't necessary and it won't cause you any problems if you don't. If you're interested in making things look a little (lot?) nicer and don't find learning a new language/debugging too upsetting, then go for it.
  9. Aug 16, 2010 #8
    Re: Latex?

    I got no programming experience and I started using Latex and Mathematica and I am doing very well. If the OP is proficient with math, its a walk in the park (I think my idiom is wrong). You don't even need programming experience.
  10. Aug 17, 2010 #9


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    Homework Helper

    Re: Latex?

    Let me put in a little plug:
    Great place to ask questions (especially the "how do I do ____" sort that tend to be really annoying with LaTeX), plus there's a fair amount of information about why you should use LaTeX, who else uses it, where to go to learn the basics, etc. from the questions that people have already asked.

    Disclaimer: I'm a happy member of that site but otherwise not affiliated with it.

    P.S. gretun: if by "walk in the park" you meant "very easy", that is indeed the right idiom.
  11. Aug 17, 2010 #10
    Re: Latex?

    im using a mac so which editor should i use? TeXShop or texmaker?
  12. Aug 17, 2010 #11


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    Re: Latex?

    I'm using TeXShop on my Mac, and I'm very happy with it. If you will be dealing with references (and who doesn't?) I highly recommend the free software BibDesk to help you organize them.
  13. Aug 17, 2010 #12
    Re: Latex?

    how do i run spell check on TeXShop?
  14. Aug 17, 2010 #13
    Re: Latex?

    Throw your mac away. No no no, I am kidding, I envy you though.

    Just download the programs.
  15. Aug 17, 2010 #14


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Re: Latex?

    Edit>Check spelling

    I use texmaker, though used to use texshop (I changed a while back, and can't really remember why!)
  16. Aug 17, 2010 #15
    Re: Latex?

    Do you know off hand what some of the differences are?
  17. Aug 18, 2010 #16
    Re: Latex?

    bump on this question
  18. Aug 19, 2010 #17
    Re: Latex?

    I do no use any sort of LaTeX WYSIWYG, just a plain text editor (ViM). If you want to use LaTeX, there is no need to use anything else. Might make life easier in some regards, but you can live perfectly well without it.
  19. Aug 19, 2010 #18
    Re: Latex?

    To OP
    I am also an electrical engineering student. From my experience, [itex] \LaTeX [/itex] is the one of the must things a student should learn and use.
    It has made my life easier though initially I found it hard to use. I use MikTek 2.7 and Technic center. It makes me writing technical articles, presentations a pleasure experience. The most important thing is re-usability. What we type in one document can be used as it is (or with little modification) in a different template/class file.

    I enjoy working in [itex] \LaTeX [/itex], and I recommend strongly you to start using it as soon as possible.
  20. Aug 19, 2010 #19
    Re: Latex?

    so you use TeXworks as your editor?
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