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It seems standard practice, when typesetting with Latex, to put the Latex logo in the text whenever we are referring to Latex itself (usually through the \LaTeX command). Why do we do this?

It's certainly far from standard practice. When we're referring to Adobe we don't write it in sans-serif, like its written in the Adobe logo. We don't refer to the New York Times in blackletter.

I got thinking about this while reading The Elements of Typographic Style, in which Robert Bringhurst says:

Logograms pose a more difficult question. An increasing number of persons and institutions, from archy and mehitabel to PostScript and TrueType, now come to the typographer in search of special treatment. In the earlier days it was kings and deities whose agents demanded that their names be written in a larger size or set in a specially ornate typeface; now it is business firms and mass-market products demanding an extra helping of capitals, or a proprietary face, and poets pleading, by contrast, to be left entirely in the vernacular lower case. But type is visible speech, in which gods and men, saints and sinners, poets and business executives are fundamentally treated alike. And the typographer, by virtue of his trade, honors stewardship of texts and implicitly opposes private ownership of words.

Logotypes and logograms push typography in the direction of hieroglyphics, which tend to be looked at rather than read.

Coming from Latex this passage struck a chord with me - I realized that this was precisely Latex standard practice.

I also started thinking about other typographical issues, which pushed me away from using the Latex logotype in text. In another chapter Bringhurst talks about typographical color, and how your paragraphs should look roughly uniform in terms of the density of black. Now when I see text where the logo is used a lot they seem quite patchy to me, and it feels like I'm not encouraged to read those paragraphs in linear order.

(For an example see the book Mathematics Into Type by Ellen Swanson page 3 [page 14 of the free PDF]. No specific insult meant to Ellen Swanson at all, it's just a freely available example.)

Those are two arguments against using the Latex logo in text. My question: what are the arguments in favor?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by egreg, Papiro, Christian Hupfer, Svend Tveskæg, Martin Schröder Sep 5 at 22:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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some relevant history (re TeX, not specifically LaTeX) here: Is TeX as word and logo a trade mark? –  barbara beeton Aug 27 at 16:42
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Note that not everyone uses the logo in running text. For example, the biblatex manual simply uses 'LaTeX' as we write it here on the site. You can't really use 'Latex' without risking confusion with the polymer solution of the same name :-) –  Joseph Wright Aug 27 at 16:45
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To show that we are using LaTeX and not another, here not named, program to get readable documents? :-) –  Kurt Aug 27 at 16:54
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In my own documents I write "LaTeX" without the special formatting. I include a colophon with just about every document I make for myself and in those I will use the logo forms of the products I use. –  bfootdav Aug 27 at 17:14
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@JamesFennell ad "confusion": chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/41?m=16941308#16941308 –  yo' Aug 27 at 18:54

6 Answers 6

The almighty Knuth once said in the good book:

[...] it's important to notice another thing about TeX's name: The E is out of kilter. This displaced E is a reminder that TeX is about typesetting, and it distinguishes TeX from other system names. In fact, TEX (pronounced tecks) is the admirable Text EXecutive processor developed by Honeywell Information Systems. Since these two system names are pronounced quite differently, they should also be spelled differently. The correct way to refer to TeX in a computer file, or when using some other medium that doesn't allow lowering of the E, is to type TeX. Then there will be no confusion with similar names, and people will be primed to pronounce everything properly.

In the trustful [citation needed] Wikipedia article about LaTeX, there's this mention:

The name is traditionally printed in running text with a special typographical logo: LaTeX. In media where the logo cannot be precisely reproduced in running text, the word is typically given the unique capitalization LaTeX.

Personally, I believe it's up to the author to decide whether to use one form in favour of another. Since this question aims at why we use the logo the way it is (and in my humble POV, deliberately or not, you got the wrong capitalization in the title), these are the sources telling the beginning of the story. :)

Following guidelines should not suppress your own opinions. So, do what it pleases you. As long as you use the proper logos or at the very least the proper capitalization, everything is fine IMHO. Everything besides that goes against what Knuth/Lamport envisioned. :)

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Like with TeX, LaTeX has both a logo (that was designed to be usable in running text, ie noticeable but not using special glyphs only special positioning) as well as a textual representation that has no lowered or raised characters. For LaTeX this is "LaTeX".

Thus when referring to the LaTeX software one should either use the logo or use the textual representation "LaTeX" but not some other spelling or capitalization as that would refer to something different.

Whether or not this name was a wise choice is something is at best philosophical and while I admire Bringhurst I think it goes too far if one would conclude from his work that you should be named Otto not James because that is more uniform in spacing

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I am not a big fan of the TeX logo (LaTeX and friends actually took the cue from the original TeX logo see this question; How to write (La)TeX (with parentheses) [or any other TeX-related logo]).

However, I don't see the that Bringhurst's criticism applies to TeX on this matter. First of all, this is hardly ever a typographical decision. It's not like word breaking or page size changes when you use this logo. Also, if you are not writing a manual for TeX packages, you won't be typing the logo more than a handful of times. So I cannot see how this constitutes as a bad typographical exercise.

Regarding, your point about

It's certainly far from standard practice. When we're referring to Adobe we don't write it in sans-serif, like its written in the Adobe logo. We don't refer to the New York Times in blackletter.

Oh how they wish you do that. The reason you don't do it because you don't have the \Adobe or \NYTimes macro available and the WYSIWYG software cannot push this to it's users. Secondly, TeX logo doesn't cut through the fonts as implied by Bringhurst. Example (Myriad Pro Bold)

enter image description here

Hence, it's a kern/shift letter-play not an abrupt jump of commercialism with an obscure font/color. It doesn't even try to switch back to the original TeX fonts that comes by default, hence there is absolutely no genuine logo effort here. Try this with an Adobe product. Also, say, there are occasions I know from first hand, that mathworks cared about the interviewees whether they capitalized matlab properly or not in their resumes. So in that respect, TeX logo macro is pretty modest and in my opinion quite just (this is less true for MetaFun and Metapost).

Another problem is the typical corny homograph latex the material often used in certain context that might give pleasure or skin rash depending on the one's self-respect. I don't know what Lamport was thinking but it is quite a bad choice for naming a macro package latex, though we are essentially using skips in the form of

<length with unit> plus <stretch amount> minus <shrink amount>

so maybe he had a point after all. In any case, it's even good to have some sort of distinction.

Anyway, my point is the criticism you have included doesn't apply to this per se. And it is my personal take obviously. Thus, I also believe that the other answers are a little too defensive since Bringhurst points to a specific way of including fonts and colors say you are in a thin sans-serif context and keep on writing Serif PostScript all the time (which is again closely related to Apple and ... nevermind let's not go there).

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I forgot to mention that if it was a real logo effort, you would get a proper chi in the end. –  percusse Aug 29 at 0:45
    
+1 This answer makes me want to google latex without SafeSearch™ on. :) –  Paulo Cereda Aug 29 at 11:10
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+1 I totally agree with the fact that the (La)TeX "logo" is not really a logo at all, but a play on kerning and letter shifting. It does not even add emphasis, nor does it have a fixed form, so it can barely qualify as a logotype. –  ienissei Sep 2 at 22:59
    
I suspect that Lamport named LaTeX using the two first characters of his last name in the early 80's and that the confusion arose about a decade later with the popularization of the internet. In that regard I believe Lamport's choice was unfortunate but I would not call it bad per se as he did not have the gift of foresight :) –  spet Sep 3 at 7:10
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@spet Latex materials are around for almost a century. It's a lack of naughtyness it seems to me. –  percusse Sep 3 at 8:48

If you've taken on the task of reading manuals of certain products or software, you will see that is common to highlight in the text logo of the manufacturer or brand of the software, so that in a way is a common practice in the small fiefdom of the manuals. Beyond that it's not something you see everywhere.

Nor all who use LaTeX we emphasized it at every opportunity throughout the text. Most often, use texts created with LaTeX standard classes and the Computer Modern typeface and that's enough to identify the vast majority of documents that are made with LaTeX.

Some people try to use LaTeX with more subtlety, using other classes with other fonts even the same that many professional designers use thanks to XeTeX. In my case, within my own editorial practice I try to put the logo only on the copyright page and/or in the colophon. Unless I am editing a LaTeX manual as The not so short LaTeX version, then I'll use indiscriminately the logo itself as in many other manuals.

It is perhaps the only case where I deliberately and without remorse ignore the wise words of Bringhurst.

Finally, I believe that the use or not of a distinguished typographically word within the text as a logo, is due to an editorial style that in turn depends on what an editor or group of editors deem is right, within certain preset limits.

If there is not a style manual that imposes you saturate texts with logos, then use them with surveying or if you prefer don't use them.

Contrary to what you point, I know of newspapers, magazines and other publications that continually emphasize their logos in their posts.

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My preference has always been to use \LaTeX simply because I think it does set the software apart (like a logo) and call attention to it. More than two or three times in a document would be tedious. Perhaps Bringhurst has a point, but I simply like setting it apart because I love and admire LaTeX and its abilities and hope it will grab the attention of the reader who doesn't know what it is.

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I agree with distinguishing between occasional use and frequent use. Actually I use the Latex logo in my resume: in this context it provides the unique opportunity of making your resume proof of one of its assertions (that you can use Latex)! –  James Fennell Sep 5 at 20:57

The letters, "LaTeX" are just scribbles. The only reason they have any meaning is that at some point in history, some people decided to agree that they were part of an alphabet and that various permutations of said alphabet letters would symbolize certain things, and when you consider the number of homonyms and outlandish exceptions to spelling and pronunciation rules, some people might argue that our language is not that far off from hieroglyphics. Furthermore, if someone who knows nothing about calculus picks up a calculus text and allows it to fall open to some random page in the middle, that person is unlikely to know the difference between that and hieroglyphics . With that in mind, compare the following items: the letters, "LaTeX," the binary ASCII code for those letters, Korean for typesetting, the Egyptian hieroglyphics for typesetting, and the logo, \LaTeX, which is just an image like "\omega." If somebody finds your hard drive a hundred years from now, will they be able to decipher what is written on it? On the other hand, if they find a document with a LaTeX logo, as opposed to just the letters, LaTeX, will they know the difference? What is easier and what looks better to you? If the New York Times was a typesetting language, it would be a lot easier, out of respect for the institution, and just from a typist's point of view to type a simple command, \NYT," that prints the image for their logo instead of typing out "The New York Times." Furthermore, if you read Strunk and White's Elements of Style, you will understand that what most people write and say have little to with the strictness of the language and it's usage and rules. Most people probably think that it's fun that LaTeX affords such an easy way to render the logo which is usually not possible with most other logos, and they probably haven't studied and committed to memory the most authoritative works on typesetting, grammar, and style. So, my answer is that good reasons for using the logo is that it is there, it is easy to use, it is fun, and it shows respect for what it represents.

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Wow, you really went on a tirade here, trying to say the same thing that could probably have been mentioned in a single sentence. Perhaps this is better-suited as a comment of sorts then, if you're able to summarize it. –  Werner Sep 5 at 20:51
    
Both of the words radar and laser started off as acronyms - R.A.D.A.R. and L.A.S.A.R. - and then evolved towards the modern forms. Nowadays no one is confused if they see laser instead of L.A.S.A.R. Similarly, if LaTeX eventually evolved to Latex, people would understand it. So I don't buy the idea that we need to keep it forever the way it is just for meaning. –  James Fennell Sep 5 at 20:54
    
As regards the \NYT comment: it begs the question. We should use \LaTeX instead of Latex because, if the New York Times were a typesetting engine, we would use \NYT instead of NYT. –  James Fennell Sep 5 at 20:55
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His question was a tirade. –  Diane Sep 6 at 23:39

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