Why use LaTeX?

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The math formatting software.

I get if you want to publish and thats what publisher expects but for non published work I see guys here use it.

Simple editers do the job well enough so why learn the equivalent of a new programming language?
 

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  • #2
andrewkirk
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Simple editers do the job well enough so why learn the equivalent of a new programming language?
What simple editors? The only one I know of is the equation editor in Microsoft Word, which is riddled with bugs and very inefficient.

If all that's needed are special in-line symbols then word-processing programs with autocomplete can do the job. So for instance, when working in symbolic logic one can sometimes get by with just that. But if one wants to typeset an integral, a matrix or a complicated fraction, a proper typesetting program is needed, of which latex is the lingua franca and readily available.
 
  • #3
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http://www.dessci.com/en/products/mathtype/

Another one I just downloaded, haven't got the name, something like "effx" easy as, very pretty formatting and does awesome graphing and calculus.

Takes a stupid person 30 seconds to do awesome undergraduate calculus on it.
 
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Cross referencing was horribly implemented for equations the last time I used word.

Doing changes to an entire document is hard, style changes etc.

You can make figures directly in latex by gnuplot (by tixz) , paste code directly from a document.
 
  • #5
micromass
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http://www.dessci.com/en/products/mathtype/

Another one I just downloaded, haven't got the name, something like "effx" easy as, very pretty formatting and does awesome graphing and calculus.

Takes a stupid person 30 seconds to do awesome undergraduate calculus on it.

Yeah, and it costs money. LaTeX is free.

LaTeX is very easy to learn. It's been the standard for mathematics for years. I really like it a lot. I see no reason at all to change.
 
  • #6
robphy
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MathType can accept small ##\LaTeX## statements as input and exported-output.
(If I write in Word, I mainly write MathType input in ##\LaTeX## and rarely use the GUI.)

##\LaTeX## is a widely-accepted plain-text open format (unlike a non-human-readable proprietary format).
Lots of mathematical software exports to ##\LaTeX## format.

Of course, ##\LaTeX## is more than merely typesetting mathematical expressions.
It is a whole system for preparing possibly-large documents, mathematical or otherwise.
 
  • #7
andrewkirk
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If I write in Word, I mainly write MathType input in ##\LaTeX## and rarely use the GUI.
When you do that, are the equations you enter visible to document-level search and replace? One of the serious problems with the MS Word Equation editor is that the contents of its equations do not have that capability. So if one has a ten page document containing many equations, and then realises that one needs to rename all \alpha variables as \beta, the only option is to manually search for every one and replace it by typing over it.

Does using MathType as an add-in to Word get around that problem?
 
  • #8
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The math formatting software.

I get if you want to publish and thats what publisher expects but for non published work I see guys here use it.

Simple editers do the job well enough so why learn the equivalent of a new programming language?

One might also ask why some people prefer command-line interfaces to point-and-click user interfaces. The reason is that for a skilled user they allow work to be done far more efficiently than with GUI tools and any operation can quickly be executed with just a line or two of code. You can type faster than you can click.

The other reason is that there are so many different symbols in math and so many different ways to arrange them that it would become incredibly tedious to do all of that with drop-down menus.

Also, you get to use that gorgeous Computer Modern font.
 
  • #9
robphy
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When you do that, are the equations you enter visible to document-level search and replace? One of the serious problems with the MS Word Equation editor is that the contents of its equations do not have that capability. So if one has a ten page document containing many equations, and then realises that one needs to rename all \alpha variables as \beta, the only option is to manually search for every one and replace it by typing over it.

Does using MathType as an add-in to Word get around that problem?

MS-Word's search didn't work for me (on Word 2003 with MathType 6.9).
Possibly useful: http://superuser.com/questions/915643/find-and-replace-in-mathtype-equations

When I use MS Word with MathType, I only compose short documents.
For larger documents, I would use ##\LaTeX## (using MiKTeX).
 
  • #10
Hepth
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I've basically transitioned to using LaTeX for nearly everything now; cover letters, articles, resume/cv, publication list, presentations

To be honest I feel like its more portable than doing things in Word or Powerpoint, its easier to change things, styles etc. once you know all of the packages. And custom macros and definitions saves a LOT of time when writing articles or longer papers/statements. I guess I prefer to be a master of ONE document editor rather than be OK at a few.

It's tough to get started, but if you know even the basics of programming the macros and package usage becomes easy very quickly.
 
  • #11
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A lot of it has been said, I might add automation.
Suppose you need to send 100 letters and want to use the recipients name inside said text.
Add in that you want to use a windowed envelope to avoid writing or printing on them.

It's reasonably simple to write a script that takes a base latex file and replaces a placeholder with the appropriate information, compile and prints.
That way you can get simplify your work a lot.

Also references, citations and overall beauty.
Latex is also modular by nature meaning you can simplify working on big (Huge) documents.
 
  • #12
micromass
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