# Few questions about LaTeX as a layman

I have never used LaTeX before and do not know how to use it either. But, I know cursorily that it does similar work of writing mathematical expressions as the Mathtype in MS-Word does.

My questions are:

1. How is LaTeX useful in general, and also it's advantage over Mathtype?
2. In which field/area does learning LaTex benefits substantially?
3. How much time would it take me to learn LaTeX for basic use?
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You can start from the question showcase-of-beautiful-typography-done-in-tex-friends –  percusse Dec 9 '11 at 5:16

1. LaTeX is much more useful than Mathtype because:

• Once you get used with it, it's much faster and more convenient to write math formulae in LaTeX than in Mathtype.
• LaTeX renders math formulae more nicely than Mathtype, especially with complicated formula.
• Also, it's like a scripting language which means you can control a lot of different things by writing some simple lines of code. Once you master it, it gives you more power than relying on other people's code (Mathtype) (although I'm not there yet :) )
2. As far as I know the main advantage of LaTeX is with math formulae.

3. I'm also learning LaTeX now. And from my experience, the fastest way to learn it is to practice. You can never remember all the syntax unless you use them a lot again and again. So you can start by googling for some latex templates and then change them the way you want and see what you get.

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One more thing, you cannot use Mathtype to write your question here or in other math forum but you can use latex :) –  chepukha Dec 9 '11 at 5:08
Thanks chepukha. Would you recommend any source for learning LaTeX to start with? –  Pupil Dec 9 '11 at 22:14
You're welcome, S_H. You may try these links: tutorial , another tutorial, and wikibook. Let me know if that helps. –  chepukha Dec 10 '11 at 7:55

1) Sorry. Never used Mathtype. Skip.

2) Not just writing math formulae actually. I've had use for it in

• Philosophy. LaTeX has logic symbols too (AND, OR, NEG) which makes it very handy here.
• Computer Science. Well, this answer is kind of moot as CS is almost Math. But my point is, you can use LaTeX to typeset pseudocode beautifully. Not surprising as TeX and LaTeX came from figures in CS (Knuth and Lamport, respectively).
• Pretty much anywhere. Believe it or not, I've used LaTeX to create papers in subjects in humanities. LaTeX has a very nice system for handling bibliographies and other features of an academic paper.

3) As I always say, if you know basic HTML (which even enthusiastic 8-year olds can master), LaTeX will be a breeze. Sometimes, though, the error messages LaTeX generates can get frustrating. When that happens, just google your error and you should be fine.

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