After a few years of trial, error, and usenet messages, I know just about all the LaTeX I really need. And my needs are modest. Most of my documents use the same template (tufte-latex), with the same set of packages; occasionally I need to learn something new for a specific purpose, but in general I've got a nice stable skill set.

You can probably see where this is going: I'm starting to get bored and starting to feel stagnant. Since I have what I need, the question is: what do I want?

And that's my question. I want to expand my TeX skills, but without a real need directing me, I'm not sure where to start. Is there a package, TeX variant, or something that's worth learning just because it's cool?

(And yes, I know I can browse CTAN at my leisure. I'm asking you what corners of the LaTeX kingdom you particularly enjoy playing in.)

  • 1
    (1) Explore, and try to understand, some .sty files that you use and like (might be best to start with things less complicated than hyperref); (2) try to write a simple .cls file that you can use for (say) writing lecture notes; (3) try to write some simple, yet elegant documents in (plain) TeX. – jon Dec 10 '13 at 3:16
  • 5
    Learn tikz and get fascinated. – user11232 Dec 10 '13 at 4:18
  • 4
    Try to answer the questions here at TeX.SX :) – Herr K. Dec 10 '13 at 4:51
  • 1
    You could re-read the code of some of the first papers you ever wrote using TeX and LaTeX and see if there any parts that make you wince now. Then start figuring out how to improve or replace those code segments, either by writing better code yourself or by finding and loading a suitable package (which may not yet have existed back when you first wrote the papers being reexamined). – Mico Dec 10 '13 at 5:05

The TeXbook may be your real friend. This beautiful book contains at least 3 books inside: one for beginners, one for intermediate, one for advanced. In fact, there is also fourth book inside, leading to proficiency. Solving miniproblems helps to understand, how it works. It, i.e. TeX. The depth of TeX is as the depth of Faukner's books: the process of discovering new aspects, new beauties or oddities seems to be endless.

LaTeX is written in terms of TeX, so understanding the latter helps understanding the former. Learning the behaviour of packages is a fun for years.

Then TeX friends appear. At least PostScript, PSTricks and TikZ/PGF (about two thousand pages of base documentation in common). And the fun lasts. Let us see haw many people were interested in such questions, as Can we make a love heart with LaTeX?, How to draw a coffee cup, How do I make my document look like it was written by a Cthulhu-worshipping madman?.

Enough fun for next ten years? I hope so.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    +1: TeXbook is magnificent! I can also recommend Robert Bringhurst's "The elements of typographic style" to learn general things about typography. – Henri Menke Dec 10 '13 at 6:34
  • 1
    Enough fun for at least 25 years, I can say. ;-) – egreg Dec 10 '13 at 8:53
  • @egreg Yes! For me TeX is like a Key from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limes_inferior and I try to understand it; but the Inventor is on unaccessible level. I hope that ``Limes inferior'' was translated into Italian. It should be, because en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmicomics were translated into Polish, and Zajdel, in my opinion, is better. :-) – Przemysław Scherwentke Dec 11 '13 at 16:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.