LaTeX Reference

Latex Reference (6361)

Many of you have heard about LaTeX (I am of course referring to the typesetting software, not the milky sap-like fluid used to make rubber). You have perhaps noticed the obvious aesthetic superiority of papers and slide shows designed in LaTeX. You have also perhaps heard about the incomparable side benefits that come with using LaTeX: it's free (and it'll make you free), more powerful, more flexible, more efficient, more practical, more of about any good thing. But what is it exactly?

LaTeX is the best typesetting system for academic (and in particular scientific) documents (it's based on a software written by the legendary Donald Knuth). However, everybody will find benefits, maths or not. Among others, your papers will look incomparably more professional. At least 98% more professional. They will look more true than ever before (in fact, most people would believe that the 98% referred to above is not a made up statistics if it were written in LaTeX). Insofar as text processing is concerned, it actually is the best way to pass from Nature to Culture; by that, I mean that you will be using your computer as such instead of using it as a glorified typewriter.knuth-is-my-homeboy Thanks to LaTeX, you could be emancipated, freed from any corporate constraints, working directly on the noumenal text. I am pretty sure that using LaTeX is a duty that follows from the Categorical Imperative.

You're convinced? Good! In what follows, I have put a number of references, tricks, and templates together to make the learning curve less steep. Please keep have a look at this page periodically as I do post new links, new packages, new templates, etc. Normally, the newer version is better than the older one, at least in terms of being more user-friendly.

This is meant to be an article complementing my LaTeX Workshop I am running. Here are the slides for the workshop (those are old slides---the new ones are coming up soon!):

In addition, I recommend that you consult the free book A Not so Short Introduction to LaTeX. And keep this cheat sheet with you at all time! Finally, you probably want to keep a copy of The Comprehensive LaTeX symbol list (a massive PDF) at hand. I also suggest you use Detexify (it has both iOS and Android apps). And finally, those of you who want to edit papers with co-authors might want to have a look at sharelatex.

One of the things that is the most tricky in LaTeX is to even know where to start from.

The first step is to download and install the software. what you need to install. If you're using Windows, you will need MikTeX. If you're using Mac, you will need MacTeX. If you're using Linux, just install LaTeX from the software centre (or, in Ubuntu, just type "sudo apt-get install texlive-full").

Once LaTeX is installed, to make to life easier, I decided to compile some sample documents that contains stuff that academics often need, such a a slide show, a Curriculm Vitae, a poster, a thesis, an exam, a course outline, etc. They aren't perfect, of course, but they might be of some help:

There are some packages that I find particularly useful. In fact, if you examine the sample documents above, you'll see that I include many packages by default.

Here's a short list:

More references on the web.

Here are some other useful references that you might want to look at: