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207

Hypothetical dialogue follows. Dear <insert subject name here>, I would like to spend a few minutes talking about something cool. In fact, it's not just cool. It's amazingly cool. It's not "Albert Einstein playing guitar" cool, neither "Abraham Lincoln riding a bear with a machine gun" cool, it's way more superb. Believe me, it's super duper ultra ...

171

If people ask me what LaTeX is, I explain it like this: Imagine you wrote a book and want to publish it. You, as an author, are good at writing and explaining stuff but you don't know how to "design" it. When your book looks like this, you wouldn't earn a penny, selling it: What you need is someone how is trained at making text readable and looking ...

97

A very common use of LaTeX is for automatic generation of high quality PDF reports that present the results of some routine analysis. For example, given some hydrology data in CSV format: Date,Flow 2011-12-20,112 2011-12-21,109 2011-12-22,108 2011-12-23,106 2011-12-24,103 2011-12-25,105 2011-12-26,105 2011-12-27,102 2011-12-28,107 2011-12-29,202 ...

91

Being aware of the fact that this post is quite old, I would like to add two further resources which might be interesting when it comes to programming. I think there are three categories which need to be mastered (perhaps not all in the same degree) in order to become comfortable around TeX programming: TeX programming. That's very basic, it deals with ...

80

To start with the examples: Deutsche Bahn, the german railway company, is using LaTeX (or at least TeX, I'm not sure) to format timetables of any kind, including the large tables hanging in the stations, the individual station-wise or connection-wise schedules for download (in many different ways), etc. Also, some smaller public transportation companies use ...

79

The biggest change has been that now pdftex is the default engine for latex. However, unless you write packages, you do not need to be aware of the differences. There is also a lot of momentum in LaTeX3, but most of the code is used behind the scenes by other packages. Again, unless you are a package writer, you do not need to learn anything new here. Many ...

74

I truly believe nothing comes close to TeX (and Friends, e.g. LaTeX, ConTeXt) when it comes to output quality. Other DTP programs such as Indesign (Adobe), QuarkXPress (Quark) or Scribus (open source) offer a graphical interface and hence an easier learning curve, but they don't match up in terms of quality. Amongst many, let me just point the two most ...

73

\documentclass[twocolumn]{article} \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} \usepackage{tgpagella} \usepackage{dtklogos} \begin{document} \Large \XeTeX \\ \XeLaTeX \\ \AmS \\ \AmSLaTeX \\ \AMSLaTeX \\ \AmSTeX \\ \AMSTEX \\ \AMSTeX \\ \BibTeX \\ \LAMSTeX \\ \LamSTeX \\ \La \\ \LaTeX \\ \LaTeXTeX \\ \MF \\ \MFun \\ \MP \\ \SLITEX ...

65

I find the comparison posted http://www.zinktypografie.nl/latex.php?lang=en to be very effective- here's a visual If the visual isn't enough, check out the analysis! Where IWS is the inter-word spacing and SD, stands for Standard Deviation, a measure of the variability of IWS (as computed by the square root of the average square deviation from the mean ...

60

TeXies have a good chance of recognizing TeXed documents, especially if Computer Modern (or Latin Modern) is used. But assuming you want to convert Word-users and other heathens, figuratively speaking, you could use a colophon, a "brief description of publication or production notes relevant to the edition, in modern books usually located at the reverse of ...

58

(My apologies in advance for any "too long; didn't read" sentiments -- if you only read one thing out of this, make it this link: Best Way to Start Using LaTeX/TeX?) My Non-Expert Background: I started using LaTeX around 2002 to help engineering students at my university write their M.S. theses and PhD dissertations. For several years, I made basic ...

57

TeX is both a program (which does the typesetting) and format (a set of macros that the engine uses). Looked at in either way, TeX gives you the basics only. If you read the source for The TeXBook, you'll see that Knuth wrote more macros to be able to typeset the book, and made a format for that. LaTeX is a generalised set of macros to let you do many ...

51

Aditya has mentioned packages, and Jan has mentioned engines, but there has also been lots of infrastructure developments that make dealing with LaTeX more convenient: A new cross-platform editor, TeXworks, that (I think) is the easiest way to get started with LaTeX because of its simple interface and embedded PDF viewer For TeX Live, an update mechanism ...

48

I think a resume is more typesetting than word processing, so I would not use MS Word or OOo Writer. One could use Indesign or a free layout program. Often resumes contain text in columns. Text in narrow columns is hard to wrap--TeX does a good job here. For even better justification use microtype with pdfLaTeX. I think with microtype the chance to avoid ...

44

It certainly is possible to use LaTeX just as a file to be read by TeX, but it's not common. There are at least a couple of reasons. TeX is designed to allow a set of macros ('format') to be read then dumped 'as is' by 'IniTeX'. When you do tex <file> you are running TeX the program with Knuth's plain format, rather than a completely un-initiallised ...

42

You could start with LaTeX2ε for class and package writers aka clsguide. We already have some information regarding this on the site, for example: Style/class tutorials Is there a comprehensive and complete LaTeX reference? You could learn much if you would read the commentes LaTeX2ε sources aka source2e. To understand it best, you could learn TeX or ...

41

A dubious analogy?... guess we'll see Imagine that you are baking a cake, and that somehow you could magically get software on a computer to do it for you. LaTeX would... measure the ingredients mix them perfectly create very little mess write down all of its decisions for you to follow later would only ever ask you for clarification if it was absolutely ...

40

Let the creators of TeX and LaTeX answer: Donald Knuth wrote in the first chapter of his TeXbook: English words like ‘technology’ stem from a Greek root beginning with the letters τεχ...; and this same Greek word means art as well as technology. Hence the name TeX, which is an uppercase form of τεχ. Insiders pronounce the χ of TeX as a ...

39

Yes, we really work crazy hours (not only) in evenings and weekends (where other academics would spend time on something else than their science, too). It's our hobby. Other people just have different ones. Many packages got initially created because I needed them for my thesis, like svn-multi, tikz-timing and standalone. On the other hand if I would work ...

37

In short TeX is all about formatting, for document/template designers, while LaTeX is all about content, for document writers. TeX is a typesetting system. It provides many commands which allow you to specify the format of your document with great detail (e.g. font styles, spacing, kerning, ligatures, etc.), and has specialized algorithms to compute the ...

37

Briefly, LaTeX consists of several layers. (Those who were actually involved in LaTeX's development, please feel free to correct me.) The lowest layer is the three hundred or so TeX primitives such as \hbox or \vskip. On top of this, there is the LaTeX kernel. This is a set of macros such as \documentclass, \usepackage, or \begin. The source of the kernel ...

36

.fd = Font definition; used in generating the output .bst = BiBTeX Style File (e.g., a certain journal's preferred Bibliography layout settings); used by BibTeX when generating the bibliography .aux = LaTeX auxiliary file; created when LaTeX is run, these contain information LaTeX records which is then either used by BibTeX or LaTeX itself on later runs ...

36

Yes you can do most normal things without problem (and sometimes faster or easier) with word. But what about slightly "unnormal things"? As an example: Write a small equation like e.g. Pythagoras $a^2+b^2=c^2$ in a chapter title -- and then try to get it in an automatically generated toc and in the pdf bookmarks. Or try to change the style and the ...

35

Packages are simply tex files with commands as you may define in your own document. Many packages are essentially options where it doesn't make sense to load both font packages: or packages for footnote styles and other layout choices etc. If LaTeX was being designed now, it would probably have more code in the preloaded format, but in 1993 when LaTeX2e ...

35

A major motivation for the design of TeX originally and also of LaTeX is document stability, you should be able to get a 20 year old LaTeX document and still process it. To get absolute guaranteed stability you need to archive the whole system executables, fonts, etc, but for the vast majority of cases that is not necessary and an old LaTeX document will run ...

33

It is useless to explain some thing to some people. Your explanations will be too complicated or too boring. Probably is better to explain first what is NOT LaTeX to keep you out of trouble when people look in Google to see where you spend your time. I've seen that Paulo Cereda also thought about this risks. In a second step you can explain that playing ...

32

You probably had some customization in your thesis. Try to make a package of your code, publish it on CTAN and then support it, answering users' requests. This will definitely help you to learn TeX and to procraste in your other activity. At least this advice works for me.

32

Based on this example on texample.net I have created this diagram: This infographic is an attempt to visualize the interaction of 'User level' and 'Software/file level' in LaTeX workflow. Sources available here. This is not exactly an answer. To give an idea of the files involved in the compilation, the node named ".tex file" should be elaborated further. ...

31

Any single-page text in LaTeX could look very similar to one obtained with a WYSIWYG word processors with the appropriate formatting. What make a real difference often at the first glance is the lack of consistency on this format on a whole big document made with a word processors, even when the user is an expert using predefined styles, against the ...

31

Maybe another thing to mention is that thanks to new engines, like xetex and luatex, we now have access to many more fonts than before, and it is possible to use many features of the OT fonts. I am not sure what is the timeline, and how much of this was available five years ago, though. I only became aware of this relatively recently.

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