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Is Latex still relevant?

  1. Aug 10, 2015 #1
    As a current Physics student, I am wondering if LaTex is still worth learning?

    How often is LaTex still used, and do you think WYSIWYG editors like Microsoft Word has replaced the need to learn LaTex?

    I appreciate your opinions. Thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2015 #2
    Everyone uses [itex] \LaTeX [/itex], and the basics are very simple.
  4. Aug 10, 2015 #3
    LaTeX is probably worth learning even if you are not a physicist, if only for the sake of producing ordered, clean, structured documents. You can achieve any result of Microsoft Word with LaTex (though sometimes it takes creativity and some coding skills), plus there's lots automated functions built in (LaTeX keeps track of numbering and names of chapters, sections, figures, equations, etc. for you, so you can focus on the content of your work and not the layout or referencing). Also, many journals expect you to submit a LaTeX document and usually provide a LaTeX template for you to use.
  5. Aug 10, 2015 #4
    Thanks for the detailed reply. I will learn LaTex then.
  6. Aug 10, 2015 #5
  7. Aug 10, 2015 #6


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    Just a warning: After you've learned LaTeX, you'll never go back to Word! :wink:

    It's not too hard to learn, incredibly powerful, and it gives, oh, so pretty results. Frankly, I wouldn't use anything else to typset a serious document.

    However, there are WYSIWYG editors for LaTeX that remove some of the learning curve for you. Personally, I don't use a WYSIWYG editor, but I know those who do, and they seem to like them well enough. There are also dedicated LaTeX (non-WYSIWYG) editors like Kile that are pretty great.
  8. Aug 10, 2015 #7
    It's very easy to see when a math document is made by word. It usually makes me think less about the document. The result with LaTeX is so much more beautiful. Whenever I receive an email attachment and it's Word, it puts me in a bad mood.

  9. Aug 11, 2015 #8
    I just started to learn LaTex, and the first few minutes, it seems pretty easy. To be honest, it's easier to type equations with LaTex than it is with word, and you are right, the equation output is so much more beautiful than Word. I always thought that Word made equations look fairly ugly.

    Thanks for the replies everyone! :)
  10. Aug 11, 2015 #9
    What's nice too is that if you ever have to produce x letters which are personalized toward the receiving party (address line and name for example) you can use the commandline to produce them in minutes. (Unix-style terminal emulators do exist for windows)

    Oh and did I mention the beauty of the output? ^_^
  11. Aug 11, 2015 #10


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    Also, there are some decent packages (beamer) for presentations rather than powerpoint. Takes longer to make for sure, but you can copy-past equations out of papers easily, and it always looks nice. Everyone seems to use beamer in physics.
  12. Aug 11, 2015 #11
    Beamer has a bit of a learning curve.
    After 2 presentations it's just as fast (maybe even faster because you have absolute control over positioning) as powerpoint and the likes.
    At least that's my opinion.
  13. Aug 11, 2015 #12
    I'm currently undecided on a major (having taken math, computer programming & science, and sociology courses heavily the past year), but would LaTex be useful to non-STEM fields or general everyday life?

    I've wondered also if I should take it up.
  14. Aug 12, 2015 #13
    I use LaTeX for every document I need to make, so yes I think it's useful. Now, when typing a regular (non math) document, then word can do everything LaTeX does, but LaTeX is still prettier.
  15. Aug 12, 2015 #14


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    Especially with
    Code (Text):
    in your preamble...
  16. Aug 12, 2015 #15

    H Smith 94

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    I'm also a physics student and I use ##\LaTeX## for all my reports. There's just something about the way LaTeX documents look that screams "professionalism," which is an important thing when trying to stand out from the crowd (there are lots of physics students nowadays.)

    I've found that while working in my current job I've been less likely to read papers or articles written in word: equations written in Word's equations editor stand out like a sore thumb compared to the beauty of LaTeX equations. I suppose LaTeX suggests the author has more scientific competence in some way.

    I have also found that my lab reports are graded by an extra 10-15% when typeset in LaTeX, whether consciously or not on the examiner's part. It's certainly a useful tool to know how to use.
  17. Aug 14, 2015 #16

    H Smith 94

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    Oh wow, my eyes approve. Great suggestion!
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  18. Aug 14, 2015 #17


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    It's just so great, isn't it? I only found out about it a few weeks ago, and I'm a big fan.

    The other package I make sure everyone knows about is "todonotes". It's extremely useful, especially for longer documents.
  19. Aug 15, 2015 #18


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    Maybe Latex awareness is a generation thing? I have been using it for some years, but only for writing mathematical formulae on PF - and then only when I have to - i.e. when straight text like (ax + b)/cx + d) would be unacceptably hard reading. Because I find it time-consuming hard work, and depending what device I'm using there can be a bit of hassle in fetching characters like {} etc. and wysiwyg it isn't.

    But anyway I have in this way used it for a number of years for writing mathematical formulae.

    The generation thing is that till today I thought that was all it was used for! :redface:
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2015
  20. Aug 15, 2015 #19
    It's also very useful when you're working on the same document with 2 persons
  21. Aug 20, 2015 #20


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    I know how to type latex on these forums, but I never knew about latex document programs that function similar to Microsoft word. What should I download? I'm interested to try it out
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