579
votes
32answers
53k views

How can I explain the meaning of LaTeX to my grandma?

I wrote a book about LaTeX, and my proud grandma wanted to have a copy. So she got it, said "What a beautiful picture on the cover!" and - "What is this, LaTeX?". She doesn't know Word, never used a ...
569
votes
4answers
255k views

When should I use \input vs. \include?

There are two different commands to incorporate another file into the source of some document, \input and \include. When should I use one or the other? What are the differences between them? Are there ...
554
votes
47answers
309k views

LaTeX Editors/IDEs

What editors/IDEs are available for easing the process of writing TeX/LaTeX documents? Please state some useful features like code completion, spell checking, building final DVI or PDF files, etc. ...
541
votes
72answers
118k views

Showcase of beautiful typography done in TeX & friends

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 ...
453
votes
9answers
657k views

How does one insert a backslash or a tilde (~) into LaTeX?

How does one insert a "\" (backslash) into the text of a LaTeX document? And how does one insert a "~" (tilde)? (If you insert \~, it will give you a tilde as an accent over the following letter.) ...
424
votes
8answers
87k views

How do I make my document look like it was written by a Cthulhu-worshipping madman?

I want to type up some spells from the RPG Call of Cthulhu and give them to my players. I could just type them up in Word or LaTeX, but that seems too...neat. I'd like to make these things look like ...
385
votes
31answers
197k views

LaTeX template for resume/curriculum vitae

If you have a TeX'ed resume, did you use a template or make your own? Are there any useful packages? What looks the most professional? How about special considerations for different areas of work ...
377
votes
7answers
114k views

Remove ugly borders around clickable cross-references and hyperlinks

I know that I can use hyperref to make cross-references and hyperlinks clickable. That makes the clickable areas outlined in fluorescent green, however. How can I make the green boxes go away?
377
votes
1answer
60k views

What do \makeatletter and \makeatother do?

Many LaTeX “hacks” begin with \makeatletter and end with \makeatother. What do these commands do?
376
votes
2answers
175k views

How to influence the position of float environments like figure and table in LaTeX?

How to influence the position of float environments like figure and table in LaTeX? This is a general question and should collect useful answers for all users. I hope we can use this as a reference
358
votes
13answers
59k views

How to look up a symbol or identify a math symbol or character?

I know what my symbol or character looks like, but I don't know what the command is or which math alphabet it came from. How do I go about finding this out?
355
votes
56answers
96k views

Nice scientific pictures show off

Task Show off your best scientific illustration ! The main purpose of this question is to share beautiful scientific pictures, preferably with an educational aspect. Content Your post must ...
323
votes
16answers
244k views

How to add a forced line break inside a table cell

I have some text in a table and I want to add a forced line break. I want to insert a forced line break without having to specify the column width, i.e. something like the following: ...
301
votes
1answer
60k views

Guidelines for customizing biblatex styles

Suppose I've just made the switch to biblatex. I have chosen one of the built-in styles (numeric, alphabetic, authoryear, authortitle, verbose) or of the custom styles available at CTAN, and I've ...
299
votes
58answers
39k views

What packages do people load by default in LaTeX?

I'm getting the impression from reading the answers written by some of the real experts here that there are quite a few little packages that just tweak LaTeX2e's default behaviour a little to make it ...
299
votes
5answers
53k views

Differences between LuaTeX, ConTeXt and XeTeX

I’m interested in the differences and commonalities between the “new” (La)TeX processors: LuaTeX, XeTeX, and ConTeXt. Personally, I’ve only used XeTeX so far and without having the time to try out ...
296
votes
8answers
29k views

Why is \[ … \] preferable to $$ … $$?

I've heard that you should use \[ ... \] for displayed equations instead of $$ ... $$, but why is that? I'd assumed that it's so that you can more easily tell which are starting and which are ending ...
278
votes
18answers
139k views

How to include SVG diagrams in LaTeX?

I'm making all my diagrams in SVG format using Inkscape and then I export them to some other format (e.g. PDF, EPS or PNG). I wrote a short script that does this for me automatically, but I'd like to ...
273
votes
5answers
56k views

Drawing on an image with TikZ

Recently I have learned how to draw simple stuff with TikZ. I really like it. Now I wonder if it is possible to draw with TikZ on a image. Instead of pasting a image in Illustrator and adding some ...
270
votes
11answers
188k views

Where do I place my own .sty or .cls files, to make them available to all my .tex files?

I know how to define a package or a class, but how do I make it available (to myself) at all times? Say I have the package file commonstuff.sty (or myprettyclass.cls), that I want to be able to ...
258
votes
4answers
25k views

What's the difference between \newcommand and \newcommand*?

I just spotted someone use \newcommand* in an answer and realised that I'd never quite sorted out in my head what the star (asterisk) was there for. (This one is practically impossible to search for ...
255
votes
4answers
107k views

How do I use a particular font for a small section of text in my document?

The standard font packages make global changes to the fonts in my document. What if I want to use a particular font for just a portion of my text? How do I find the right name of the font? How do I ...
254
votes
2answers
31k views

Create xkcd style diagram in TeX

The unique style of the diagrams at xkcd has an informative but nice hand-drawn touch. I guess they are actually drawn by hand but just recently on our partner site for Mathematica someone asked how ...
252
votes
1answer
324k views

What commands are there for horizontal spacing?

I know that \: in LaTeX produces a space when rendered. Are there any alternatives, because my LaTeX renderer doesn't support \: (it renders it as text), and there is no help / FAQ that I can find.
248
votes
2answers
83k views

Why should I use \usepackage[T1]{fontenc}?

As a native English speaker, I've mostly been allowed the luxury of pretending that ASCII is enough, and have been able to treat font encodings as not my problem. I've seen lots of advice that I ought ...
247
votes
11answers
90k views

How to create posters using LaTeX

I want to create posters for my poster presentation on a conference. What tools or LaTeX classes are available for preparing posters ?
247
votes
6answers
57k views

What to do to switch to biblatex?

Because of the great answers posted around in the site, I'm finally considering to do the switch and move to biblatex. So, the question is what do I have to do? To give the question some focus, ...
240
votes
27answers
64k views

What are good learning resources for a LaTeX beginner?

Which book (free or otherwise) was the most useful to you when you started learning LaTeX? I am frequently asked this question by friends who want to learn LaTeX, and I recommend the book which got ...
236
votes
28answers
227k views

What are the available “documentclass” types and their uses?

Some of the available classes of documents in LaTeX are well known and widely used, such as the article and beamer classes, while others are not so well known, such as the standalone class. I found ...
233
votes
4answers
94k views

Difference between \textwidth, \linewidth and \hsize

The three lengths \textwidth, \linewidth and \hsize seem to all hold the width of the current line. At least I never saw some real difference between \textwidth and \linewidth in my code. Both seem to ...
233
votes
2answers
51k views

bibtex vs. biber and biblatex vs. natbib

I've heard of many different bibliography-related packages/platforms/?. What's the difference between the following, which is good for what tasks, advantages/disadvantages, which one is the most ...
227
votes
6answers
45k views

Space after LaTeX commands

I have a definition: \newcommand{\arnold}{Arnold Schwarzenegger} When I refer to it by: \arnold is a it is rendered as: Arnold Schwarzeneggeris a In order to have a space in front of "is" I ...
209
votes
10answers
105k views

biblatex in a nutshell (for beginners)

Is there a 'biblatex in a nutshell' guide out there? I'd like if someone explained to me the essentials on how to use biblatex (what lines I have to write in my document, which files I have to have, ...
208
votes
3answers
373k views

“Correct” way to bold/italicize text?

Is either of these considered better/more readable/more "proper"/more conventional than the other for making text bold? If so, what is the reason? I like my text \textbf{bold} versus: I like my ...
204
votes
2answers
387k views

Force figure placement in text

I have a problem when a lot of figures are in question. Some figures tend to "fly around", that is, be a paragraph below, although I placed them before that paragraph. I use code: \begin{figure}[ht] ...
203
votes
19answers
104k views

Is there any way to do a correct word count of a LaTeX document?

Often assignments (or even papers) have a word count limit. That is not a big deal when using Word, but I don't know how to do that using LaTeX. My solution has been so far to compile the document and ...
193
votes
6answers
104k views

How do I update my TeX distribution?

I'm trying to compile a document that only works with an up-to-date distribution, so I'd like to know: how do I update my distribution? Please provide screenshots where appropriate. List of answers ...
184
votes
2answers
59k views

Should I use center or centering for figures and tables?

What is the correct way to center figures and tables (figure, table)? \begin{center} ... \end{center} or \begin{centering} ... \end{centering}
183
votes
4answers
46k views

Why are default LaTeX margins so big?

I've read that—unless I know a lot about typesetting—I shouldn't change the margins of a LaTeX document. The default margin size of the article class is really big and it feels like a lot of space is ...
182
votes
16answers
28k views

How can we draw a Christmas tree with decorations, using TikZ?

I would like to use TikZ for drawing a christmas tree. Here's a start, I used the lindenmayersystems library for drawing a tree: \documentclass{article} \usepackage{tikz} ...
182
votes
8answers
15k views

Are \( and \) preferable to dollar signs for math mode?

Along the lines of Why is \[ ... \] preferable to $$?, what reasons are there (if any) to favor \( ... \) over $ ... $?
182
votes
5answers
42k views

What is the difference between \def and \newcommand?

Inspired by a question about \let and \def, I have some that essentially all boil down to asking What are the differences between \def and \newcommand? In particular, I wonder Is it possible to ...
181
votes
4answers
10k views

What is the use of percent signs (%) at the end of lines?

I see that the code in many packages and examples contains percent signs % at the end of (many) lines. What are they used for? Do they affect the parsing of those lines?
175
votes
9answers
69k views

How to install “vanilla” TeXLive on Debian or Ubuntu?

Debian and Ubuntu have very good texlive packaging. But I'd like to use tlmgr to have a more fine-grained control about upgrades and which packages I want to be installed. So how do I install ...
175
votes
4answers
10k views

Pretty Table of Contents

I would like to know if it's possible to have a Table of Contents looking like the following, where the number of the page is the big number on the left. The sections could look like in the ...
175
votes
5answers
281k views

How can I use BibTeX to cite a web page?

I'm looking to cite a number of web pages using bibtex and I was wondering if there was a specific template of the form @<template name here> for doing that. If you could use the following ...
174
votes
9answers
136k views

Keeping tables/figures close to where they are mentioned

Is there any package or a method to force LaTeX to keep floating environments like table and figure closer to where they are declared?
174
votes
3answers
127k views

How can I make an enumerate list start at something other than 1?

Sometimes, I want to have enumerate lists in LaTeX start at other than the first value (1, a, i, etc.) How can I make an enumerate list start at an arbitrary value?
174
votes
3answers
12k views

What is the difference between Fragile and Robust commands?

So I've read a few times about this, the “moving arguments” and all that. But what does it really mean? Could someone explain in a few words what is going on at the TeX level, what is the difference ...
172
votes
4answers
145k views

What are all the font styles I can use in math mode?

As can be seen in above picture, there are lots of fonts or font styles that can be used in math mode. What are all the fonts or font styles I can use in math mode, and which packages are required ...

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