Currently I'm good at producing neat documents (with few errors here and there) with latex, but I was wondering which one is better for me to learn, TeX or LaTeX?

I am very much interested in the content and formatting.


3 Answers 3


LaTeX is enough if what you want to do is to produce neater documents with fewer errors. TeX is worth knowing if you want to write new programs, macros etc.

LaTeX is about presenting content, while TeX is about formatting. Choose your interest.

  • 1
    What do you mean by presenting content and formatting? What is the difference? Jul 2, 2017 at 7:50
  • 2
    @GypsyCosmonaut Presenting content is about turning your existing words and other material into something attractive to read using existing methods of formatting. Formatting is about finding new ways to present, and does not need valuable content at that stage.
    – Henry
    Jul 2, 2017 at 18:22

I think that Leslie Lamport answered this question beautifully in the first chapter of his book LaTeX: A Document Preparation System:

Think of LaTeX as a house built with the lumber and nails provided by TeX. You don't need lumber and nails to live in a house, but they are handy for adding an extra room. Most LaTeX users never need to know any more about TeX commands than they can learn from this book. However, the lower-level TeX commands described in the TeXbook can be very useful when creating a new package for LaTeX.


I've been using LaTeX for some years. It never was necessary to learn TeX, mainly because I could ask for anything in a dozen forums. TeX seems weird to me. Either you use it frequently, I thougt, or I will forget faster than learning.

But now there's a new kid in town: Lua. Being in the midforties, I wrote my first program ever with Lua and LuaTeX: summing up a column of a tabular and printing it out in LaTeX. Lua seemed a lot easier to comprehend and to memorise.

My advice: buy some books on LaTeX and as soon as you get the feeling that you know what you are doing, have a look on Lua.

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