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The "LaTeX2e Reference Manual" contains a lot of useful information about various commands. Is there any larger resource or book containing similar shorts descriptions of commands, but that also includes macros and options provided by various contributed packages?

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My favorite resource is egreg's Breve guida ai pacchetti di uso più comune - A short guide to the most commonly used packages. It's in Italian, but it's easy to read and understand it. :) –  Paulo Cereda Dec 3 '11 at 13:00
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@PauloCereda: Makes me regret that I don't speak Italian. –  lockstep Dec 3 '11 at 13:22
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I might volunteer to translate it into English, assuming @egreg allows. I used to be fluent in Italian in my younger days. :-) –  Mico Dec 3 '11 at 13:27
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@Village: Looking at your user page, you have asked 57 questions, but only cast one vote so far. Please consider to start upvoting useful questions and answers, especially answers to your own questions. –  lockstep Dec 3 '11 at 13:39
    
@Mico: That sounds like a great idea. Has anyone thought about some kind of LaTeX package zoo? A website with a short demo of each package supplied by maintainers or volunteers would be very useful. –  qubyte Dec 3 '11 at 13:43
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Maybe the LaTeX companion (amazon link) is an interesting book for you. I read the german version and it contains a lot of information including most of the common and useful packages.
Furthermore mostly all packages are well documented. Try typing texdoc <package name> to get the documentation or just google it.

I also take the ctan-ann RSS feed to see new updates an I found some useful packages I didn’t know by seeing them updated.

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Most introductory/intermediate-level books about LaTeX do not only describe the "vanilla" system, but also include short references to quasi-standard packages like geometry or hyperref. Examples are Kottwitz, LaTeX Beginner's Guide and Kopka/Daly, Guide to LaTeX.

The most sweeping "vanilla plus packages" reference book is Mittelbach/Goossens, The LaTeX Companion. It contains (often substantial) descriptions of about 200 packages prominent in 2004. This is also the drawback -- "rising stars" of the post-2004 era like biblatex or microtype are missing.

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