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Latex learning help

  1. May 23, 2016 #1
    Hi. I would like to learn latex but I do not know how to start? Would you like to guide me?

    First of all, before trying some simpler latex codes in the site, how can I try them in a different environment to see whether or not they work? For example I want to copy and past this [[itex, F_T, /itex] on that environement and see what happens.

    Thank you.
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2016 #2


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  4. May 23, 2016 #3
    The LaTeX code will look exactly the same regardless of what environment it's on, that's part of the point of LaTeX. It may look different in WYSIWYG editors, but rendered results should be identical to the pixel.
  5. May 23, 2016 #4
    From environment, I refer to copy and paste or write or enter the codes. When I enter them in notepad, I think notepad is also an environment, there is only bare codes. But when I put them in this sites codes becomes what they should be.

    Thank you.
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
  6. May 23, 2016 #5


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    I would recommend to download TeXStudio - I've found it good enough, although there are other good free integrated writing environments / tools too. In order to begin learning Latex I recommend this resource site http://www.howtotex.com/general/12-great-resources-for-getting-started-with-latex/. You can find short guides, tutorials and various other resources to begin. Latex - as most things, needs practicing, so you must devote some time to learn it well.
  7. May 23, 2016 #6


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    LaTeX won't render in Notepad -- it's not an "environment" -- it's just a text editor.

    We have a tutorial here at PF -- https://www.physicsforums.com/help/latexhelp/
    It's under the INFO menu, listed on the Help/How-to menu.
  8. May 23, 2016 #7
    LaTeX is not restricted only to writing mathematical formulas, it includes a lot more: page layout, bibligraphy, cover design, reference management. It is a complete typesetting system which allows you to write large and complex documents.
    I started learning LaTeX using a thin book of less than 150 pages, there they introduced basic aspects of page layout, font control, enviroments, basic math formulas and biblography. From this point one can easily understand or imagine solutions to almost LaTeX problems.
    It is easier to learn LaTeX by using it, for instante, use LaTeX to write your lab reports or term projects. Later you may write your graduate, MSc or PhD thesis in LaTeX.
  9. May 23, 2016 #8
    Would you like to give the name of that book?

    Thank you.
  10. May 23, 2016 #9


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    If by "the site" you mean "this site", i.e. Physics Forums, simply write your code (including the necessary delimiters, as described in our LaTeX primer) in the editing window for a new post or new thread, then click the "Preview" button.

    If you don't click "Post Reply" or "Create Thread", nobody else will see what you're doing.
  11. May 30, 2016 #10
    It is not written in English and is rather old (printed in 1994), nevertheless is based on Lamport's book. If you want I can translate the table of content. Then you can refer to Lamport and selectively read chapters and sections.
  12. May 30, 2016 #11


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    You can download a LaTex editor like LyX. It is free and can help a lot.

    To work at a lower level, you can put LaTex code in an HTML file and see how it looks in any browser. Use a link to a LaTex parser and it will show the result. You have to wait a couple of minutes for the parser to be called and give a result. Below is a sample of HTML code. I had to insert spaces in [ itex] and [ tex] so this web site would not parse it. Omit those spaces in your work.
    Code (Text):

            [ itex]y = a x^2 + bx + c[/itex]
            [ tex]\Delta \theta = \omega_0 t + \frac{1}{2} \alpha t^2.[/tex]
    <script type="text/javascript" src="http://cdn.mathjax.org/mathjax/2.2-latest/MathJax.js?config=TeX-AMS-MML_HTMLorMML,http://www.physicsforums.com/mathjax/mjsettings.js"></script>

    Here is how it should look:
    [itex]y = a x^2 + bx + c[/itex]
    [tex]\Delta \theta = \omega_0 t + \frac{1}{2} \alpha t^2.[/tex]
    Last edited: May 30, 2016
  13. May 8, 2017 #12
    Would you please explain this part: "by the way: if they are to act on multiple characters, enclose those characters in braces"


    It does not make sense to me.

    Would you carry this thread under LaTeX forum.

    Thank you.
  14. May 8, 2017 #13
  15. May 8, 2017 #14


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    I quote the two sentences there, as they belong to the same context.
    It just means that superscripts are (normally) right on top of subscripts. ##x^2_k## is also an example there.
  16. May 8, 2017 #15


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    If you want to write ##e^{ikx}## then you need to put braces (curly brackets {}) around all the things you want as superscripts. So e^ikx only raises the i: ##e^ikx##. e^{ikx} does what you want: ##e^{ikx}##. And e^i^k^x gives an error, which probably isn't what you want either.
  17. May 8, 2017 #16


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    You haven't really explained what you want to learn. Like @soarce says, LaTeX is a complete document preparation system. Many people (especially scientists and mathematicians) use it (instead of, say, Microsoft Word) to write entire research papers and books.

    There are also some simple standalone programs and websites (like this forum) that don't support all of LaTeX but support rendering equations written using LaTeX's basic math commands.

    If you want to learn LaTeX for creating documents then a good starting point is "The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX", available as a PDF here. In order to use it you will need to install a TeX distribution. This will include programs that convert LaTeX code (written in a text file) to various formats like PDF. (I believe MikTeX is one popular one for Windows.) You will also need a text editor of some kind to write the LaTeX code in. You can use Notepad for this, though most people who use LaTeX a lot prefer to use a LaTeX-aware text editor or IDE (among other things, these will often know where the LaTeX program is installed on your system and will let you run it just by pressing a key or selecting a menu item).

    If you're only interested in learning the LaTeX math commands (e.g. to write formulas here on PF) then you might like to try the tutorial for mathTeX here. It has a little practice box that you can type LaTeX code into to see what the equation will look like.
  18. May 9, 2017 #17
    At first I would like to use it in a very simple manner. I try to understand latex help released in this website. I want to discover it. Then I want to develop step by step. I want prepare simple documents for practice but this will be later. First I want to use it here.

    Thank you.
  19. May 9, 2017 #18


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    Have you read the LaTeX Guide in the link on the lower left corner of the post entry area? That is a good start. Also, if you see something in a post here, you can select it and right click => Show Math As => TeX Commands, to see its LaTeX code.
    For large projects of your own, there are free LaTeX editors (like LyX) that you can download that are a big help. You can use it and see how it does things.
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
  20. May 9, 2017 #19


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    If you're planning on eventually using LaTeX to create documents then my recommendation would be to just bite the bullet and install a LaTeX distribution on your computer (e.g. MikTeX for Windows) sooner rather than later. For using LaTeX I think this is the first big hurdle: spend an hour or however long it takes getting LaTeX installed and figure out how to use it it to compile a simple example LaTeX source file to PDF (even one just copied off the web somewhere). After that, I think learning LaTeX itself is not particularly difficult. If you start reading the introduction I linked to, it shouldn't take more than a day or two to learn how to typeset a simple document.

    LaTeX is completely free to download and use, so I really don't see a good reason not to do this.
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