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If you were asked to show examples of beautifully typeset documents in TeX & friends, what would you suggest? Preferably documents available online (I'm aware I could go to a bookstore and find many such documents called 'books'). Extra bonus for documents whose LaTeX source is available.

This is not an idle question. Seeing great examples of any craft is both educational and inspiring, let alone explaining why we prefer TeX to Word or other text editors.

For instance, I like how Philipp Lehman's Font Installation Guide looks. I don't know enough LaTeX to realize how much customization was done, but the ToC looks polished.

Your nominations, please ...

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Interestingly, the font installation guide probably doesn’t even have that many customizations, at least by the looks of it. Rather, the polished looks come from a very few choice adjustments. –  Konrad Rudolph Aug 8 '10 at 8:53
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I really like the microtype manual PDF. Since it's nicely using PDF features like layers and such to create an appealing document. –  Johannes Schaub - litb Aug 15 '10 at 14:46
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It seems to me that the font installation guide was set-up in a more elaborated way in previous versions. Am I missing something or confused with another document? –  pluton Oct 1 '10 at 2:18

63 Answers 63

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Thanks. Do you happen to know how the "paper texture" is added (such as in the sample at tsengbooks.com/images/6176s.pdf)? –  wishihadabettername Aug 8 '10 at 1:24
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It's just a small image tiled to fill the entire page. You could do that using package atbegshi <ctan.org/pkg/atbegshi>;. –  Martin Heller Aug 8 '10 at 21:34

If I can be allowed to plug my own project, my page for Bertrand Russell's Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy shows off 6 different PDFs for different page sizes, including eBook versions, produced with the same core source file. The source is available too. However, it was also one of my first LaTeX projects and I’m a bit embarassed by some of the messiness in the code.

A more recent, and cleaner project (source also available) is Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus also available in different versions from the same source.

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Vote up for making the source of the whole book available. Great study material. The preamble is also nicely commented. –  Leo Liu Aug 8 '10 at 6:22
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Another vote for publishing the source code! Thanks a bunch- complete book examples really help when tackling a project like this. –  Sharpie Aug 8 '10 at 17:59
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Just a humble question concerning the website. Why, oh why Comic Sans in the header? –  helcim Aug 12 '10 at 8:49
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@helcim: The website specifies font-family: BlackJack, cursive; On windows, cursive often (unfortunately) maps to Comic Sans. –  Lev Bishop Aug 15 '10 at 3:18
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BlackJack is embedded on the page. It appears your browser doesn't support embedded fonts. But Comic Sans? Yuck. Sorry about that. –  frabjous Aug 17 '10 at 14:25

The Latex Font Catalogue is a wonderful resource. For some reason it is missing the Zapfino font (as it is nonfree), which was packaged by Walter Schmidt.

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Zapfino is a commercial font: quite an expensive one at that. The package just provides support for the font assuming you have the font files. It doesn’t contain the font files. –  frabjous Aug 8 '10 at 14:24

I may be a little biased, but I'm quite happy with the way my thesis Circuit Quantum Electrodynamics turned out.

EDIT: I have now packaged up the source with a brief description of some of the tricks I used (tweaking your latex is a great way to procrastinate when you should be writing a thesis!)

If you find the sources useful, or further if you use my format as the basis of your own thesis, I would love to hear from you!

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Looks excellent. Post the source if you don't mind. –  Leo Liu Aug 8 '10 at 16:18
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Looks very good indeed. Alas, it's Feynman not Feynmann! –  José Figueroa-O'Farrill Aug 8 '10 at 16:48
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@José Figueroa-O'Farrill It's traditional to have a blatant typo on the first page of a thesis. Let's pretend that this was my Persian Flaw (only Allah is perfect). –  Lev Bishop Aug 10 '10 at 4:01
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Beautifully done, and the Introduction was a compelling read too. Your comment above re. Persian Flaws provoked a LOL, thanks. –  limist Dec 9 '10 at 18:05
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"tweaking your latex is a great way to procrastinate when you should be writing a thesis!" - So, so true. –  Forkrul Assail Jan 15 '13 at 6:13

Admittedly, you asked for LaTeX, not TeX, but the TeXbook is quite nice. Its source is freely available (but you are not allowed to compile it).

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I got a directory "Beautiful TeX document" on my computer storing files that are beautiful and I might want to look at for inspiration when designing mine.

  1. ArsClassica
  2. ClassicThesis
  3. the manual of pdfx
  4. TKZdoc-linknodes-us

All of them can be found in CTAN. fontinstallationguide and tufte-sample-book have already been mentioned.

LaTeX companion 2nd edition has chapter-3 free on-line (http://www.latex-project.org/guides/tlc2-ch3.pdf). I think the typography is one of the finest.

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All of them can be called up via texdoc <name> on a recent LaTeX distribution. –  Konrad Rudolph Aug 10 '10 at 9:31

Perhaps a little off the track of beautiful document typography per se, but I often turn to the TikZ and PGF examples pages when I'm seeking inspiration or solutions re snazzy and relatively easy to produce vector graphics typography.

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Here's another shameless plug for one's own thesis: Narrowband CARS spectroscopy in the molecular fingerprint region

Here's some of the typographically relevant code I used, plus the code for the abstract page: http://pastebin.com/JWFjbZ1q

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While writing it, I really liked my bachelor thesis Implementation of a Read Mapping Tool Based on the Pigeon-hole Principle, even though the margins (and some other things) were all wrong.

Looking back, I probably wouldn’t use such a heavy font again (Hoefler Text). But I still like the chapter headings a lot:

chapter heading

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They look nice, I'll create a memoir version of it for a later edition of my memoir chapter style showcase document –  daleif Apr 20 '12 at 12:08

The last document I opened that made me say "wow" was the elsarticle document class documentation.

The layout is highly nonstandard, and it wouldn't be suitable for most purposes, but it sure displays beautifully.

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It's a matter of taste. River valley obviously wants to show off their latex skills and make something that looks completely unlike people's preconceptions of a latex-produced document. Which is fine. But I personally find this a very over-the-top format, distracting and not at all easy to read, so it fails my definition for 'beautiful typography', which to my mind should mostly get out of the way and let you read the document. –  Lev Bishop Aug 11 '10 at 2:35
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While I agree with @Lev and @Leo that there are a lot of distracting elements (it’s (intentionally) more like a website than a print document), the main text body still has a very appealing format in my opinion. Also, I like everything that challenges preconceptions. –  Konrad Rudolph Aug 17 '10 at 12:17

OK, so here is one "from the Friends". I am a great admirer of typographic skill of Hans Hagen and Metafun manual is one of my favourites. Also available is Metafun manual source.

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The articles from the online journal 'Semantics & Pragmatics' seem to come out very well.

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Nice example of Lucida fonts. –  Lev Bishop Aug 15 '10 at 3:18

This is only somewhat related, but Springer lets you search their journals for strings of latex. This can help you understand how to format certain commands (and decide whether it is done well or not): http://www.latexsearch.com/

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I really like the documentation of Philipp Lehman. The Font Installation Guide was mentioned in the question, but I also think for a simpler article (rather than the book style) his package documentation is hard to beat aesthetically, e.g. biblatex's

In biblatex manual [was: Can I make a document that looks like this?], the author explains how to recreate this style (fonts and such).

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The handbook for the memoir class showcases quite a few different layouts, some of which I would call quite beautiful.

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I know two nice repositories (the last one has already been listed here):

  1. Dario Taraborelli shows some of the elegant and beautiful features of LaTeX.
  2. There is the TeX Showcase, edited by Gerben Wierda, which contains examples of what you can do with LaTeX. Most, if not all, of these examples are of exceptionally high quality.
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Some of you may be interested in Cours d’analyse although it is far from being as fancy as some of documents already mentioned. It is a bit too dense and comments are welcome. The final code is probably very nasty. Anyway.

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1 - I would not say that it is very nice but probably interesting in terms of coding Light and matter

2 - This one is very nice but with no sources motionmountain

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I think Lorenzo Pantieri's books and articles very nice. He uses his package ArsClassica and are written in italian.

At aprende matematicas (learn mathematics) you will find some mathematical books also written with LaTeX.

And at the Malaysian LaTeX User Group Blog there is a tutorial explaining how to design a not so boring book.

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@xport: It works for me. The link to the pdf is aprendematematicas.org.mx/obras/L15.pdf but you can also try through scribd at scribd.com/doc/17909256/LaTeX2e-en-15-Sesiones –  Ignasi May 31 '11 at 7:00

I wonder why nobody suggested the original works of Donald Knuth. To me they are beautiful examples of typesetting. As far as I know, his books and papers are typeset using TeX (vs. LaTeX), but for the sake of the topic, I guess, it doesn't matter.

Some examples:

  • The Art of Computer Programming (TAOCP)
  • The TeXbook
  • The METAFONTbook

The complete list of Knuth's publications as well as preliminary drafts of the TAOCP Vol 4a chapters (in post script files) can be found on his home page. The sources of the TaOCP book (tex files) are also available in peer-to-peer networks.

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I have to agree with TAoCP (can’t speak for the rest). As for why nobody has posted them yet, I think the implied assumption in the question was that the source code is available so that one can see how the layout is produced. –  Konrad Rudolph Jan 15 '11 at 12:18
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And Concrete Mathematcis. –  Leo Liu Jan 30 '11 at 5:14
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@Konrad At least for »The TeXbook«, the source is available, although rendered uncompilable. Just google it. –  FUZxxl Jun 27 '11 at 18:44

If you were asked to show examples of beautifully typeset documents in LaTeX, what would you suggest?

This is my rendering of a long-ago torture test of technical text (say that three times fast!).

I think the technical material came out fine-looking, certainly up to anyone's professional standards, but the biggest point for me is that getting LaTeX to do it was straightforward.

Personally, when I was first shown some of the wonderful things that TeX could put out I was amazed at what other people could do. But when I saw the original version of this document in the AMS Notices then I was delighted at what I could do. :-)

Preferably documents available online ... Extra bonus for documents whose LaTeX source is available.

Yes, in the same directory.

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The link does not work. –  xport May 30 '11 at 18:29
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The following link seems to have the document, plus a zip of the source. I'm on an iPad so couldn't check the source. joshua.smcvt.edu/bcs –  Mike Taylor Jul 22 at 1:35

A good comparison of MS Word vs. LaTex was done by Matthias Mühlich who wrote twice the same text (without any formula or table or anything one expects LaTex to shine) in both formats and converted them to pdf.

Just print out 1 and 2, and decide for yourself.

enter image description here

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I love this explicit juxtaposition of the results. It speaks for itself! –  Count Zero Sep 14 '11 at 20:54

...and for a great example of TeX typesetting in an open access scholarly journal, check out the Australasian Journal of Logic.

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Shameless plug for my own thesis Learning from Samples Using Coherent Lower Previsions, done with memoir, biblatex, a host of smaller packages, and custom hacking too horrible to share (Its the layout example that counts).

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@AlbertoMiranda: I used varioref (it badly interacts with other packages, sadly enough). The basic thing to do is \renewcommand*{\reftextcurrent}{\unskip}, \renewcommand*{\reftextbefore}{\unskip$_\curvearrowleft$}, \renewcommand*{\reftextfacebefore}{\unskip}, and \renewcommand*{\reftextfaraway}[1]{\unskip\textsubscript{\reallythepageref{#1}}‌​}, and furthermore \newcommand*{\reallythepageref}[1]{\hyperref{\getrefbykeydefault{#1}{url}{}}{pa‌​ge}{\getpagerefnumber{#1}}{\pageref*{#1}}} using hyperref and refcount (don't remember why). –  equaeghe Aug 2 '13 at 9:54

If you have time to spare, you can also have a look at my thesis Stochastic Multiplayer Games: Theory and Algorithms. The font is Fedra Serif B, combined with FdSymbol.

Edit: My LaTeX class file is available at https://gist.github.com/3428745.

sample pages

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Very impressive. My time for this is coming soon and I can't get enough of these :) –  percusse Sep 14 '11 at 23:16

Lately, I've begun working on duplicating a 16th century French Bible with XeTeX:

https://github.com/raphink/geneve_1564

It features image lettrine and OTF features using XeTeX, specifically the advanced features from the open-source EB Garamond font, some of which were implemented specifically for this project (thanks to Georg Duffner's great reactivity).

French Bible using EB Garamond

The project is still a work in progress (the marginpars can be improved) and only features one page so far.

Edit:

After reworking a few details, I ordered a printed copy recently, using zazzle:

Printed poster

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This is a great example to show how something can be (re)created in LaTeX. –  Count Zero Sep 14 '11 at 20:52
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Just awesome. Speechless. –  topskip Sep 14 '11 at 21:13
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Truely awesome! This is nothing less than digitally "carving" a PDF file :) –  percusse Sep 14 '11 at 23:12
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Wow, amazing. Although, looking at the original page: the little shape above "A R G V M E N T" is mirrored ;) –  Tom Bombadil Oct 8 '11 at 11:45
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How beautiful! True LaTeX masterpiece! –  Frederico Lopes Nov 13 '12 at 22:29

Christoph Bier's typokurz is beautiful and useful; it's a 15-page guide to (German) (micro)typography in a nutshell. While it's just an article lengthwise (scrartcl, to be precise), it masterly modifies many features frequently discussed on Tex.SX: section-titles, tables, footnotes, marginnotes, header ...

What's even better is that the preamble is available as well, it even is extensively annotated, but – that will be the downside for most users here – in German, just like the entire document is. Nonetheless, non-German speakers might still find their way around as well as some inspiration in the source code.

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I think this list shoul definitely include The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX 2e. It is the book with which I started to learn LaTeX. It has no bells and whistles, but a very clean and pleasant layout, which is the philosophy of LaTeX. If I wanted to show off fonts and fancy pictures I would probably rather go for a document created in Adobe InDesign.

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