# LaTeX tips

TeX and LaTeX

TeX and LaTeX are free software professional typesetting packages which are, sadly, little known in the world of Windows computing but are almost ubiquitous in Unix environments and especially in scientific publishing.

I first started using LaTeX (the most common interface to the plain TeX rendering system) for project reports in my 3rd year undergraduate work and immediately wished I'd discovered it earlier. If you've ever experienced the pain of trying to maintain coherent header and paragraph formatting in MS Word for documents over ~30 pages long you'll know what I mean. I won't even attempt to describe how nasty Word is when it comes to equation typesetting or the numbering and positioning of tables and figures!

LaTeX is especially nice for typesetting mathematical work it has beautiful maths fonts and extremely powerful tools for handling tables of contents/figures/etc, citations, bibliographies and indices. The interface is more like programming than the Word-like "WYSIWYG" approach but the initial learning curve isn't too steep and is worth the effort.

Here's some TeX-related links that might be of interest:

* tug.org, the main TeX/LaTeX user site      * MikTeX is a free Windows LaTeX distribution      * CTAN, the


repository for LaTeX packages * Cambridge-based frontend to CTAN with a better search system * UK TeX FAQ an excellent resource for TeX and LaTeX frequently asked questions * kile is a free LaTeX environment that's part of KDE (and available through Fink for Mac OS X) * LyX a WYSIWYM (sic) editor producing TeX output

I'll chuck a link to the "Not So Short Guide to LaTeX" on here sometime it's a good initial reference. For more advanced features, the standard books on LaTeX (as well as TeX and Metafont) are:

* The TeXbook  Donald Knuth      * The Metafont Book  Donald Knuth      * LaTeX, a document preparation system


Leslie Lamport * The LaTeX Companion Goosens et al * The LaTeX Graphics Companion Goosens et al * The LaTeX Web Companion Goosens et al

There's plenty of others but these are the ones I've used in the past and found to be useful. I'm told that the Kopka and Daly "A Guide to LaTeX" book is the best of the lot, though... LaTeX / BibTeX style files

There wouldn't be any point in me having this page if I didn't supply anything other than TeX-sycophancy, so here's a few LaTeX style files and other random things that I've been using for recent bits of work. Writing your own packages is quite easy and very worthwhile. One not-so-obvious trick is to set the TEXINPUTS and BIBINPUTS environment variables to include both the current directory (.) and the location of these packages and BibTeX reference files. Both are standard Unix colon-delimited path set strings... i.e. something that looks like /path/to/number/1:/path/to/number/2:..
