I have read dozens of tutorials on creating LaTeX documents. All of them have one thing in common: they all focus on writing a technical thesis or a math paper of some sort.

I'm a programmer and I want to write personal and sometimes work-related documents in LaTeX. It's the plain text that's the appeal.

Are there are tips or resources that you can recommend for someone like me? Something that focuses on general writing as opposed a university/research setting?

  • 2
    Wouldn't the requirements for writing a personal/work document be a subset of the ones for writing a math/technical document? For example, How to write a simple English / Humanities paper in LaTeX covers the basics that all the technical tutorials do, but no math. What specifically hasn't been covered in what you've already read? Jul 12, 2011 at 15:54
  • I strongly suggest you to take a look on the amazing CTAN Catalogue. You will find lots of examples fo general purpose documents, not only technical. Jul 12, 2011 at 16:01
  • @Mike - it's still a university paper; I want something dead simple - how to add a heading and write a couple of paragraphs, how to change the font in a simple manner and that's it. Something that's easy to understand. I can only find cumbersome ways, using dozens of packages... Jul 12, 2011 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


Given the extra clarification, and still somewhat subject to opinion:

Dead simple tutorials: Eglen's A short example of how to use LaTeX for scientific reports (4 pages printed, 4 files to download, covers basics of tables, graphics, equations, citations, etc.), the LaTeX Wikibook (may not be the best possible document, but extensive and easy to get started with).

Adding a heading should be in either of those, or any normal tutorial. Changing the style of a heading is normally a bit further along in people's learning curve, but often involves the titlesec package. If you search this site for 'heading', the second question and answer gives a good overview.

For changing fonts, I've got a solution for that buried in this answer, and it's surrounded by sympathy for people only finding the "cumbersome, using dozens of packages" methods. XeTeX/XeLaTeX and ConTeXt may make this task easier, and may be worth investigating as well.

  • I'd definitely go with Xe/LuaLaTeX and fontspec for easy font usage. In particular when writing personal documents (where you don't have to follow any external constraints).
    – Caramdir
    Jul 13, 2011 at 2:03
  • lshort is probably also worth mentioning (skip the accents and language parts except for the Unicode section).
    – Caramdir
    Jul 13, 2011 at 2:10
  • In my attempts to use the fontspec packages, the quotes weren't being rendered properly. E.g. ```work''`. Jul 13, 2011 at 12:21

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