Is there a documentclass specificaly for taking notes in a class? If not, what does the community see as things which should be included in such a class (which I'd be happy to write)?

Edit: This was meant to be edited days ago, my apologies. However, I'm looking for a documentclass specifically for something like Engineering, Biology would be nice as well, something which allows the drawing of flow charts of metabolic processes, etc.

I type most of my math notes up in LaTeX because it's quite convenient. Not so much for something like organic chemistry, I'd like all my compounds that I use regularly to be in say a bank of compounds which I could just insert at will, and link instances of that phrase to an image at the end, much like an endnote.

I'd also be interested if anyone has document classes for Biochemistry.

  • The question as it stands is too general and seems unanswerable. Anything you need beyond the report class probably depends on your specific field. Perhaps you might want to rephrase your question to ask for a big-list of tips and tricks to take lecture notes using LaTeX? Aug 31, 2010 at 13:44

2 Answers 2


Right. This type of question is quite broad and I'll try to answer it.

First of all depends whether you are doing humanities, languages, mathematics, engineering and particular sciences. More importantly depends on how many graphics, formulas you have in the notes and how quickly you are at typing those up (since typing those is the slowest of all).

I personally did take notes in latex using just report class. I would it great to type up syllabus beforehand for the whole year such that I can predict headings more precisely. I was able to keep up with formulas but I couldn't keep up with figures (I didn't know tikz back then). So I have ended up drawing figures on a tablet or paper and then scanning them in later on.

I'm doing electronic engineering. If you are doing chemistry, biology or physics your experience can be much different. And if you are doing languages, history or law your requirements will be completely different.

Best is to ask: "I'm doing electronics, what is the best way to quickly sketch circuits for later polishing in latex?"

The questions as it is now doesn't tell what area your are not finding report class to be suitable.


"Taking notes for a class" covers a broad territory, but one thing which it might be nice in general to have is a way of marking sections of text with dates and instructor names. One could tell LaTeX, "This section of text comes from a lecture given on 27 January by the TA instead of the regular professor", and that information would be available for inclusion in the page header, the TOC, etc.

When I was taking lots of LaTeX notes during lectures, I defined commands to abbreviate the constructions which kept coming up in whichever class it was. That way, I was able to keep up with hairy formulae; I sketched diagrams and such by hand and worked them up as SVG files later (or, in one case, I clipped figures from the professor's hand-written notes, which he posted on the class website). Such abbreviations are like to be fairly subject-specific, so they're probably not suitable for a general "lecture notes" package or documentclass.

  • Abbreviating the constructions is one of the keys to taking notes in LaTeX, and also can be used if you don't know how to do something in latex (yet). Just make up a shorthand command, then define it after researching post-class.
    – TJ Ellis
    Jul 28, 2010 at 13:52
  • And I agree; I don't know how useful a doctype for notes would be; I generally end up taking distinctly styled notes for each different course, based on the material and lecturer style, adding commands on an ad-hoc basis throughout the course.
    – TJ Ellis
    Jul 28, 2010 at 13:55
  • Right---if you don't know how to make the weird-looking capital R the professor just wrote on the blackboard, you can type \weirdR or, better, \realnumbers in your document, and then later you redefine it to expand out as \mathbb{R}. Jul 28, 2010 at 16:15

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