I'm looking to use LaTeX for my technical documentation needs (such as reference manuals, user guides, etc). Could I use your template to quickly get started in order to avoid being overwhelming by the LaTeX world... tons of packages and control sequences. At minimum, I will need a template for Table of Contents, figures, tables, Index, Glossary. Any other goodies would be welcome too.

Also, any good (and free) front-ends? I'm thinking of going with Lyx but not sure if there are any better alternatives.

Finally, has anyone got any experience with the DITA and LaTeX? If I understand it correctly, DITA is for building 'configurable documentation', one that you can sew together from individual, independently written pieces written in XML. If you those pieces were in LaTeX instead, I guess you could use the two together.

The technical documentation is for software, btw.

  • 1
    if you search this website a bit, you will find a lot of recommendations for front-ends. For example, tex.stackexchange.com/questions/339/latex-editors-ides has quite a few answers. For your third question about DITA, I suggest you split it off as a separate question, especially since it is not covered by the title of this post. Oct 7, 2010 at 11:57
  • Individual questions should be asked separately.
    – TH.
    Oct 7, 2010 at 12:33
  • For the first question, look at tex.stackexchange.com/questions/2339/… - a question that didn't receive a whole lot of attention at the time. Many of the core Context crowd care about using XML documents as input; some resources are available at wiki.contextgarden.net/XML Oct 8, 2010 at 12:13

2 Answers 2


You may find the refman class a good starting point; it's designed to be an all-in-one package for technical reference manuals.

Having said that, I use memoir for my technical manuals. It's very customisable, and many people have published such customisations, for example, these chapter styles. The last manual I wrote used a slightly modified version of one of these chapter styles, along with a slightly tweaked page style to give larger margins for handwritten and margin notes.

The manual for memoir is widely regarded as a great document to read in its own right, having good information on typesetting in general, and defining useful terminology in a way that's easy to read.

  • yes! the memoir manual is chalk full of yummy information, even if you're not interested in tex.
    – Mica
    Oct 25, 2010 at 22:35
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    Looked at refman: its documentation is ... horrible. No introduction to explain how to use the package, just a lot of details about its implementation. Moving on to memoir ... memoir seems to be about as big as Latex itself and doesn't have anything particular for reference manuals (but the manual is more than 500 pages, so what do I know?). The chapter styles document organizes the chapter styles by style author's name, rather than by capabilities. None of the answers here are significantly better than "use Texinfo," which has its own challenges. Mar 12, 2019 at 16:00

I don't have a empty document to put here right now, but start with a article


Then include some packages (What packages do people load by default in LaTeX?)


Then include some tables.


Then you start to write...

/Have fun

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    Since you will document SW, don't forget that tools like doxygen can create LaTeX based pdf as well, it is a nice complement to the traditional documentation.
    – Johan
    Oct 7, 2010 at 13:34

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