I am a LaTeX newbie. I am curious to hear your recommendations about the best places to learn it. More precisely, I am going to start writing my doctoral thesis in it. Our school already has a template but I would like to get the basics first before diving into that template. With that, I plan to continue writing my journal articles in LaTeX instead of MS Word (which is, as you may relate, sometimes painfully unfriendly to scholars when it comes to formatting).

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    I presume that Leslie Lamport's classic book is not suitable? Having the reference at hand is not a bad plan. – Jon Custer Dec 23 '19 at 19:38
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    This is not an answer to your question and a question along these lines would be closed as shopping: But my advice is to investigate different LaTeX editors. For me, I started in TeXnicCenter and then switched to TeXMaker when I understood a bit more what was going on. Now I'd probably start in an online LaTeX editor so you don't have to install anything - such as OverLeaf – JenB Dec 24 '19 at 9:39
  • I hugely recommend Overleaf for a thesis. You can work on it anywhere (any computer with an internet browser). It's free and works insanely well. – Shinobii Dec 24 '19 at 14:08
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My go to is Wiki. It literally has everything you need. It is laid out pretty great where you can both learn, and use it as a reference. I use it often. Also, the TeX - LaTeX StackExchange is an excellent place to get answers to specific problems.

Once you have an appropriate template, this will give you everything you need to format your thesis. Good luck!

Also, don't bog yourself down with the details (in my opinion). Understanding exactly what the LaTeX code is doing is going down a rabbit hole. Just focus on understanding what you need to do what you want.

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  • I'd add to this the "short math guide" linked to near the bottom of this page: ams.org/publications/authors/tex/amslatex – Scott H. Dec 24 '19 at 6:53
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    The last paragraph is basically what I just wanted to add. Don't bother too much with the template. Those tend to be over-complicated monstrosities to cover every little detail using tons of Latex syntax that you are never going to need IRL. – tobias_k Dec 24 '19 at 10:19
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    The LaTeX wikibook sections can be of varying quality. Some passages are outdated, some are being kept updated regularly. For the basic ideas it is probably fine, but as soon as things get more advanced (and things can get more advanced quickly with LaTeX) I would be careful and double check the information from the Wikibook. (See also tex.meta.stackexchange.com/q/6393/35864) – moewe Dec 24 '19 at 15:44
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    I agree with @moewe's analysis of the LaTeX WikiBook. The information there in my experience often doesn't illustrate "best practices", and, in some cases, even recommends some "worst practices". If you have questions on that level, ask a question here. – barbara beeton Dec 24 '19 at 18:08
  • LaTeX (in my opinion) is very fake it till you make it. Often, you will learn what you need to do what you want, and nothing else. Nearly everyone I know in academia has their templates and know how to create their sections etc. As others have stated, WikiBook may have some downfalls; I generally ONLY use it for math equations and so on. I can comment that the math sections are pretty darn well complete. My number one tip: you should have 0 warnings after compilation. If you have a warning, probe it! – Shinobii Dec 24 '19 at 22:00

Little known fact: arXiv is great for this. Look for papers in your field on arXiv, and instead of downloading the pdf, download the source file (changing the file type if needed, so that it will open). Not only will you learn how to make fancy tables, pictures, etc... --- you will also often get to read all the comments that the authors neglected to remove before submitting their paper.

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I suggest that you just start using LaTeX for small projects, perhaps at sharelatex or overleaf. If you're really brand new to it, search online for latex tutorial.

Once you are underway, learn features as you need them.

Ask questions on this site.

For a large project like your thesis, check out the workflow tag. You will find strategies for working on one chapter at a time by setting up a good file structure and naming conventions.

@Shinobii is right to warn you not to try to understand too much about LaTeX innards. You will probably never have to read what's in the university thesis template.

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    When I first encountered Latex I thought that it would be impossible ever to learn it, but I am now reasonably proficient. What changed? I went through a period of using Latex for everything I wrote.No more MSWord, MacOS Pages. Latex for everything. It was slow at first but quite soon your fingers learn their way around the language. – JeremyC Dec 23 '19 at 23:02
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    Sharelatex and Overleaf merged together since two years ago: it.overleaf.com/blog/sharelatex-joins-overleaf-2017-07-20 – CarLaTeX Dec 24 '19 at 15:51

Check out the IITB LaTeX course at edX

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