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LaTeX Questions

  1. Dec 14, 2011 #1
    First, how and where did you learn LaTeX? I want to get started, but I have been shocked at how unhelpful the resources at the top of my Google searches have been.

    Second, what applications do you write and compile in? I've heard of "Emacs," but I'm not sure if this is as related as I would like to think. I also heard that some programs will let you see output across the screen from raw LaTeX...which I think would be invaluable for me.

    Third, any general advice for learning LaTeX?

    Thank you for your time!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 14, 2011 #2


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    Are you on Mac or PC?

    In my experience, I learned everything by doing. I needed to write my first publication-quailty article so my adviser gave me an old paper he wrote and the latex source file and it's fairly obvious how things get done.

    The next paper I did was my masters thesis, which I grabbed a template off of a different universities website and you kinda just look at the thesis and its latex files, look at the output, and put 2 and 2 together. In the end, 95% of my problems and questions were answered by googling "Latex change margin size", "Latex change font size", "Latex center images", etc. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/ provides tons of guides that are pretty helpful. I hope this isn't one of the sites that you didn't find much use out of because I sure did.

    http://ctan.org/ is a great resource when you start getting a little familiar with TeX. It shows you where to get all the packages you want, the documentation for all the packages, etc.

    If you're on PC, I personally use MikTex and TexWorks. Texworks is the compiler program and MikTex is the LaTeX distribution. Get the 'full' installer that's like 1-2gb as it includes tons of packages you might use at some point.
  4. Dec 14, 2011 #3


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    I've found texnic center to be the best, so far. With SumatraPDF, you can do reverse lookup which is handy for long papers.
  5. Dec 14, 2011 #4
    Ubuntu/Windows 7 dual-boot.
    I tried downloading MikTex and it was huge, so I went over to try and use LaTeX on Ubuntu and failed pretty hard.
  6. Dec 14, 2011 #5


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    There should be a slimmer version, like 200MB? It probably includes just the barebones packages.
  7. Dec 15, 2011 #6


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    I'd just get the full MikTex install for starting out. Otherwise you might go crazy later on, trying to figure out why tutorial suggestions aren't working.
  8. Dec 15, 2011 #7


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    Yes there is. It's called the "basic MikTeX installer".

    The nice thing about MikTeX is that it automatically downloads and installs additional packages the first time you reference them in a document, so unless you are a "completist" there's no real need to go through the relatively complicated process of installying the full package.

    My favorite "how to" source is http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?introduction=yes [Broken] which has a list of tutorials etc.

    My answer to the OP's question "how and where did you learn" isn't very helpful: it's so long ago that I can't really remember, but I started with raw TeX not LaTeX (and that is not a recommendation that newbies in 2012 should do the same!!!)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  9. Dec 15, 2011 #8

    Dr Transport

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    I have used TexMaker on Ubuntu for a couple of years and it is software center.
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