I'm getting the impression from reading the answers written by some of the real experts here that there are quite a few little packages that just tweak LaTeX2e's default behaviour a little to make it more sensible here and there.

Rather than try to pick these up one by one as I read answers to questions (and thus risk missing them), I thought I'd ask up front what LaTeX2e packages people load by default in (almost) every document.

As this is a "big list" question, I'm making it CW. I don't know if there are standard rules across all SE/SO sites for such questions, but on MathOverflow the rule is generally: one thing (in this case, package) per answer. I guess that if a couple of packages really do go together then it would be fine to group them.

This is perhaps a little subjective and a little close to the line, so I'll not be offended if it gets closed or voted down! (But please explain why in the comments.)

Also see our community poll question: “I have used the following packages / classes”

  • There are standard rules across all SE sites, see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11740/… and follow the links. The idea is that the answer to a "what are good default packages" question is way too big for a single user to write, so the community helps out. The one accepted answer that everyone edits has lots of edits from lots of people. Anton Geraschenko of MO made his own very different interpretation, "post one resource per answer" (mathoverflow.net/faq#communitywiki), and we'll have to decide one or the other. Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 22:25
  • 8
    Personally, I'd find a single list, separated by headings (Ex. Format, Math, Bib,Images, Other for this question), with a list of everyone's packages and how they're different from other packages in the section much more readable and useful. That amsmath is the highest voted just says that the MO community is here in full force. The less-known, but equally relevant formatting packages linked by Vivi, Joseph, and András are invisible without a lot of scrolling and reading. Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 22:37
  • 6
    I think the list of one package per answer is a good idea, as we can vote on individual packages... Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 11:30
  • My intention was not so much to find an ordering, but rather to find if there are any that I'd never heard of. It's not working out quite as I'd hoped, but I'm not sure if its possible to fix it at this stage (or worth doing). Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 11:37
  • 1
    It can be good to have a single answer that is just an index of all the other answers, and accept that, so that it floats to the top.
    – naught101
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 3:44

65 Answers 65


I almost always load microtype. It plays with ever-so-slightly shrinking and stretching of the fonts and with the extent to which text protrudes into the margins in a way that yields results that look better, that have fewer instances of hyphenation, and fewer overfull hboxes. It doesn't work with latex, you have to use pdflatex instead. It also works with lualatex and (protrusion only) with xelatex.

  • 16
    You may want to use \usepackage[stretch=10]{microtype}, which allows font expansion up to 1% (default is 2%).
    – lockstep
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 12:03
  • 76
    Can we have an example of with versus without?
    – levesque
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 18:28
  • 9
    there's a nice example in the documentation for microtype mirror.ctan.org/macros/latex/contrib/microtype/microtype.pdf, though it requires adobe acrobat for the inline examples
    – Noah
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 22:37
  • 12
    Here is another example.
    – Juri Robl
    Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 11:13
  • 7
    Here is a superb page of examples with and without microtype: khirevich.com/latex/microtype Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 4:03

The family of AMS math packages. At least amsmath and amssymb. Also amsthm if I need theorems and the class I'm using doesn't already define them.

Particularly for writing equations, the AMS packages define a rich set of environments to group and align formulas in many different and useful ways. I also like that it encourages the use of semantic commands (e.g. the cases environment) over syntactic commands (e.g. a \left\{ followed by an array).

Its documentation can be found running texdoc amsldoc on a command line.

  • 7
    In particular, amsthm provides an easy way to set up different theorem styles, amsmath provides the \text command, and amssymb contains several often-used symbols. Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 12:40
  • 25
    +1 for the (oblique) reference to texdoc. I only discovered that recently and I wonder how I ever lived without it! Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 18:08
  • 7
    I believe amssymb loads amsfonts. There's rarely any need to load it yourself.
    – TH.
    Commented Sep 11, 2010 at 9:13
  • 5
    Note that the ams math packages are loaded automatically if you use one of their document classes, such as amsart.
    – Erik P.
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 19:08
  • 20
    Instead of loading amsmath I usually load mathtools. It is based on amsmath and loads it automatically. Moreover it fixes some deficiencies of the amsmath package and provides additional useful commands such as \coloneqq.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 9:53

I use hyperref for setting PDF metadata and to create links, both within the document and for clickable URLs. Even Elsevier has used urlbst to update their bibliography style to support URLs and DOIs; hyperref does the actual work of rendering url = and doi = BibTeX fields into clickable PDF links.


For citations and bibliographies, biblatex is the package of my choice. Key points:

  • biblatex includes a wide variety of built-in citation/bibliography styles (numeric, alphabetic, author-year, author-title, verbose [full in-text-citations], with numerous variants for each one). A number of custom styles have been published.

  • Modifications of the built-in or custom styles can be accomplished using LaTeX macros instead of having to resort to the BibTeX programming language.

  • biblatex offers well-nigh every feature of other bibliography-related LaTeX packages (e.g. multiple/subdivided bibliographies, sorted/compressed citations, entry sets, ibidem functionality, back references). If a feature is not included, chances are high it is on the package authors' to-do list.

  • The babel package is supported, and biblatex comes with localization files for about a dozen languages (with the list still growing).

  • Although the current version of biblatex (2.8a) still allows to use BibTeX as a database backend, by default it cooperates with Biber which supports bibliographies using Unicode. Biber (currently at version 1.8) is included in TeX Live and MiKTeX. Many features introduced since biblatex 1.1 (e.g., advanced name disambiguation, smart crossref data inheritance, configurable sorting schemes, dynamic datasource modification) are "Biber only".


The todonotes package is a must have in all my documents.


The package enables you to insert small notes in the text marking things to do in the document. Something like

\todo{Rewrite this answer \ldots}

At any location in the document a list of the inserted notes can be generated with the



  • 12
    For multiuser comment support, and configurability with regard to the kinds of notes/themes available, the fixme package is quite nice (I use it quite regularly).
    – Mark
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 22:29
  • todonotes also supports colors and missing graphics.
    – raphink
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 10:42
  • 5
    Personally I use an editor which automatically highlights and groups in the "structure" window any comment that begins with %TODO: Works better for me because you don't have anything in your compiled document giving away the fact that it still has TODOs around.
    – Heather
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 10:53
  • 15
    Has anyone done a comparison between easy-todo, fixme, fixmetodonotes, todo, and todonotes? Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 1:12
  • 1
    For me, the nicest part of todonotes is that when I am done, I can remove the usepackage, and if I have forgotten something, LaTeX will scream loudly. Instead, a TODO in a comment may end up leaking
    – Davidmh
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 11:49

One package that’s really general purpose is nag: It doesn’t do anything, per se, it just warns when you accidentally use deprecated LaTeX constructs from l2tabu (English / French / German / Italian / Spanish documentation).

From the documentation:

Old habits die hard. All the same, there are commands, classes and packages which are outdated and superseded. nag provides routines to warn the user about the use of those. As an example, we provide an extension that detects many of the “sins” described in l2tabu.

Therefore, I now always have the following in my header (before the \documentclass, thanks qbi):

\RequirePackage[l2tabu, orthodox]{nag}

It’s a bit like having use strict; in Perl: a useful best practice.

  • 24
    Somewhat better is \RequirePackage[l2tabu,orthodox]{nag} before \documentclass. The package docu also recommends this.
    – qbi
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 18:40
  • 6
    This package sounds useful. However, when I tested it with a large project, I started to get the message "Label(s) may have changed. Rerun to get cross-references right." no matter how many times I re-run Latex. Commented Jul 31, 2010 at 9:36
  • Your description sure sounds like a package that's really specific, not really general purpose ….
    – LSpice
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 2:33
  • @LSpice How so? It’s very general purpose in that it can/should be included into every LaTeX document, rather than only specific types of documents. It’s certainly specific in that it does one specific thing (diagnostics), but by that definition every package is specific rather than general-purpose. Clearly not what most people would think about. Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 10:03
  • Well, probably my making even one comment, and certainly my making two, was my going beyond usefulness; but to me you are describing something that's widely useful, not something that's general purpose. Something that's general purpose can, I think, be used to do many things (think of the amsmath package, which adds a lot of goodies to all kinds of math environments); something that does one thing isn't general purpose, even if it does that one thing in many circumstances. (I wouldn't call a watch 'general purpose', for example, even back when people wore them all the time.)
    – LSpice
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 13:05

I nearly always use the tikz package. Once you learn how to draw with it, you can do almost any vector graphic you need.

  • I have always used Inkscape for the production of my vector images, diagrams and whatsoever. Does tikz produce comparable diagrams? How much effort is involved?
    – levesque
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 18:28
  • 4
    You can produce almost any diagram with Tikz. Check the tikz examples page. texample.net/tikz/examples However, it is fairly complicated to get the hang on large diagrams since you have to type everything and nearly always you can't see what you are doing. But if you are using a Debian/KDE combination, you can use Ktikz/Qtikz which is really helpful since it compiles tikz code in real time.
    – fabikw
    Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 0:42
  • 47
    TikZ is awesome with a capital A. But load it by default? It takes up a lot of time and space. I would say only load it if you need it. Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 12:53
  • It takes time, but nearly always I find I need to do something with it.
    – fabikw
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 1:11
  • 10
    @levesque: Tikz has a fairly steep learning curve, but it is beautifully documented and provides rich libraries. I find the vector graphics that I produce in tikz to be superior to those I produced in inkscape. It seems easier on my brain to stay in keyboard mode as well.
    – philosodad
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 4:56

Another essential package combination is


The booktabs package creates much nicer looking tables than the standard latex tables; the array package's ability to create custom columns is invaluable for formatting tabular material on a per-column basis.

  • 2
    I just discovered booktabs -- it is great!
    – Ben
    Commented Jan 12, 2011 at 22:37
  • 2
    @Ben Yes, it's a great package. If you visit my profile web link you can find my own list of essential packages.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Jan 12, 2011 at 22:47

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned

\usepackage[margin=1in]{geometry} % set page margins automatically 

This is in every document I write (with varying margins, of course.)

  • 19
    This is generally poor style. The design of the page is pretty involved and lots of thought has went into (La)TeX's default designs. If you're interested in just saving paper, consider the packages savetrees or fullpage. Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 23:15
  • 29
    Both savetrees and fullpage change other things too; Anyway, the point of of the answer is that geometry is a must use package, no matter what margins you choose for it. The appropriateness of 1in margins also depends on the kind of documents you produce.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 23:38
  • 14
    It is not a must if you use a class from the KOMAscript bundle or memoir.
    – Sveinung
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 16:01
  • 1
    @AlanMunn And the English one is good enough for a Norwegian :)
    – Sveinung
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 18:34
  • 1
    @AlanMunn The KOMA-Script English documentation was completely rewritten last year, and is now quite readable. Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 17:13

siunitx, for typesetting units and especially for the "S" column type, which allows numbers in tables to be easily aligned, e.g. on the decimal marker.

  • 15
    \usepackage[allowlitunits]{siunitx} is my normal incantation, it allows you to use things like 20\milli\meter directly in math mode. Commented May 1, 2012 at 20:18
  • I have evidently never followed through on my plan to read the siunitx manual in depth. I was not aware of the S column type or allowlitunits, thank you!
    – owjburnham
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 9:50

Since my files nowadays has UTF-8 character encoding, I use this

  • 44
    XeLaTeX or LuaLaTeX would be my choice for this
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented Aug 15, 2010 at 13:05
  • 1
    Isn't it \usepackage[utf8x]{inputenc}?
    – Olivier
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 8:17
  • 1
    I've experienced several cases where utf8x had a symbol that utf8 hadn't
    – Mog
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 11:47
  • 10
    @Olivier: utf8 is LaTeX base, while utf8x comes from the ucs package. So utf8 is portable. Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 14:39
  • 3
    Worth noting this is no longer needed since 2018. utf8x has some issues, if you want Unicode math symbols (which is in my experience most of the differences) I recommend my package unicode-math-input but there are a handful of alternatives.
    – user202729
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 9:20

For including figures, rotating or scaling text. I also use the \graphicspath command to specify a subfolder to help organize my figures and so I can easily change between, for example, a set of figures for internal used (with extra info) and final versions for distribution.


The 'rich' document classes such as memoir and KOMA-Script include a lot of functionality that is not available from the LaTeX kernel. So the packages you load when using the article class might be rather different from those when using memoir. A lot of packages that get used by many people with the base classes (things like float, caption, tocbibind and titlesec) are covered by the richer document classes.

  • 21
    \begin{gripe} My problems with these richer document classes are that it makes it very difficult to pick and choose, and that it is a major pain when Big Shot Journal says "please rewrite your document to use our class file" (there's even a journal that won't let you send an accompanying style file). \end{gripe} Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 13:19
  • 13
    I tend to stick to article + packages, myself, so I can sympathise. All the more reason for me to get on and get LaTeX3 finished, so we can have a good set of abilities out of the box!
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 14:33
  • 12
    \begin{joke} Then stop wasting time here and get on with it! \end{joke} Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 18:11
  • 3
    If only it were that easy :-) If you want to see that things are happening, there is an RSS feed for SVN checkins: latex-project.org/latex3svn.rss
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:36
  • 15
    That gripe seems a gripe with the journals, rather than with the rich document classes. Also, if you're writing a journal article, memoir doesn't seem like an obvious way to go, if you are going to end up having to conform to some journal's style eventually. Again, that's not an issue with rich document classes, that's just a matter of picking the right tool for the job. And for journal submissions, minimal package requirements and basic document classes seems a good modus operandi
    – Seamus
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 10:41

In addition to many packages already listed here, I always include mathtools. It provides implementations of \mathclap (and similar commands) as well as nice extensible arrow.

  • 7
    \mathclap is great. I use it to great effect for things like \sum_{\mathclap{big long thing}}. (It's also amusingly named with at least one off-color meaning.)
    – TH.
    Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 9:36
  • 4
    \shortintertext is also provided by the \mathtools package and provids tighter vertical spacing compared to \intertext from the amsmath package. Commented May 2, 2012 at 0:47
\usepackage{lmodern}  % better i18n Postscript version of Knuth's cm fonts

I can't live without listings --- pretty-printing (colours, formatting and all) algorithms and code is indispensable --- in pretty much any programming languages and dialects under the sun. Plus, I can import a source file directly from the repository, and the latest version will be automatically rendered.

  • 1
    I was pleasantly surprised that I could prettyprint MIPS assembly language code with listings! Excellent package. Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 6:30

For papers on the arXiv (maths, physics and computer science mostly) there's a list of packages sorted by frequency of use.

The top twenty packages are:

  1. article
  2. graphicx
  3. amssymb
  4. amsmath
  5. revtex
  6. revtex4
  7. epsfig
  8. amsfonts
  9. bm
  10. latexsym
  11. amsart
  12. dcolumn
  13. amsthm
  14. graphics
  15. aastex
  16. amscd
  17. epsf
  18. color
  19. aa
  20. times
  • 33
    That list is literally pain to my eyes. Loading bm?! Use proper bold math characters instead, please, and not poorman's bold. times? Outdated since ages, use mathptmx or XITS Math instead. I'll stop here...
    – Ingo
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 11:46
  • 3
    @Ingo arXiv has been created in 1991 and some papers haven't been updated since then! Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 14:57
  • 3
    @Ingo bm package seems okay though? It only fallback to pmb in extreme cases.
    – user202729
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 9:22

The package xspace lets you define commands that don't eat up whitespace after them. So you can define an abbreviation like


and then you can type objects of \sA are called widgets instead of objects of \sA\ are called widgets.

  • 1
    That's one I use so much that I forget it's not part of the main code! Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 7:10
  • 22
    On comp.text.tex there's a series of messages "xspace and italic correction" about spacing inconsistencies created by xspace. There, Will Robertson suggested "delimited macros" as an alternative to xspace. Using \newcommand* only to ensure that no existing command is overriden, the above example would look like this: \newcommand*{\sA}{}\def\sA/{\mathcal{A}} To quote Will Robertson: "In the source you must always type "\foo/" [here: "\sA/"] (or TeX will throw an error), and spaces after it won't be gobbled."
    – lockstep
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 15:04
  • 8
    The main advantage of \sa/ is that an error message will occur if you happen to forget the closing slash. On the contrary, if you happen to forget the closing backslash of \sA\ , you'll end with gobbled space without noticing it.
    – lockstep
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 20:50
  • 6
    I used xspace one time in a paper with other authors. It was a huge pain since some macros didn't behave like others. It led to all sort of confusion, especially when thinks like \foo bar no long work as you expect because \foo's definition ends with \xspace. I've never tried \foo/. The main advantage I see with that is if your macro is \m/...
    – TH.
    Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 9:32
  • 9
    I don't especially like the look of \sA/ but I can't think of a better delimiter to use. Perhaps a semicolon would be fine (after HTML): \sA;. My personal belief is that non-delimited macros without arguments (i.e., the ones that gobble spaces) are just plain wrong for document commands because of the spacing problems. Even experienced LaTeX authors trip up with them. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 9:28

First line of the document should be


, which fixes a few things in the LaTeX2e kernel.

Due to LaTeX's stability policy, these corrections have not been incorporated into the LaTeX2e kernel, but this package does things most people would agree are bugfixes. So to load this package is always recommended for newly created documents. The corrections have no commonalities, but the package's description has a nice summary:

  • ensure one-column floats don't get ahead of two-column floats;
  • correct page headers in twocolumn documents;
  • stop spaces disappearing in moving arguments;
  • allowing \fnsymbol to use text symbols;
  • allow the first word after a float to hyphenate;
  • \emph can produce caps/small caps text;
  • bugs in \setlength and flushbottom.

EDIT 27.01.2016:

This package is obsolete for LaTeX releases after 2015. See latexrelease.pdf.

  • 1
    It should be RequirePackage{fixltx2e} as first line of you'require document, even before the document class, see texdev.net/2014/12/28/fixing-latex2e
    – MaxNoe
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 13:51
  • 1
    really should be an argument to documentclass.
    – ivo Welch
    Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 16:58
  • 10
    fixltx2e is not required with releases after 2015(fixltx2e) All fixes are now in the LaTeX kernel.
    – kaka
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 11:23

For quickly setting multicolumn text in a single column document, the multicol package is another package that I use all the time.


I much prefer no indentation and space between paragraphs, so the parskip package is a must for me!

  • 18
    Have a look at the KOMA-Script-classes - they include a parskip option that is more powerful than the package of the same name.
    – lockstep
    Commented Aug 8, 2010 at 17:39
  • 4
    @lockstep, but if parskip is all you want, surely loading all of KOMA-Script is overkill for that ….
    – LSpice
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 2:35

I almost always use the enumitem package, which makes it much easier to make modifications to lists (especially enumerate lists). Most notably, changing the labels to something like (i), (ii), (iii) [no period] with this package is as easy as

    \item The first item
    \item The second item

Furthermore, the code above will automatically get nesting right. Before I started using this package, my preamble always included the awkward macro (necessary to change the references and eliminate the extra period in the list itself)


which would break if I ever used it for a nested list (all the enumis would have to be changed to enumiis, if I understand correctly).

The enumitem package is quite flexible; another option I sometimes use is [wide], which makes a list look like part of the body of the text (with numbers/labels at the beginning of relevant paragraphs).

  • 1
    If someone only want the feature of changing labels, easier will be to use the enumerate package. Then you could simply write \begin{enumerate}[(i)]. But enumitem package gives a lot more flexibility including allowing the items to appear in a line. Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 8:38
  • With the [shortlabels] option, enumitem allows the same shorter syntax as the enumerate package that was mentioned in the above comment. So you can write \begin{enumerate}[(i)] as well. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 10:43

To use the palatino font (it's just a nice looking font)


Note that the old palatino package is deprecated.

  • never use \usepackage{palatino}, see l2tabu. the current way to use Palatino is \usepackage{mathpazo} Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 3:47
  • What is l2tabu?
    – Johan
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 6:35
  • 14
    You should probably also load mathpazo with the [sc] option to get real small caps and better kerning. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 9:24
  • 4
    Depending on taste, you may want to use [osf] instead of [sc] to get old style numerals as well as the real small caps and better kerning. I for one find old style numerals prettier and classier than lining figures in text mode (using [osf] will keep lining figures in math mode). Commented May 29, 2013 at 8:52
  • 1
    According to this the LaTeX font catalogue, one should increase the leading when using mathpazo. tug.dk/FontCatalogue/urwpalladio
    – Ubiquitous
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 9:04

Nothing surprising here: I use natbib, hyperref and hypernat together.

Natbib for referencing.

Hyperref adds bookmarks for sections and lists and turns references and urls into links.

Hypernat allows natbib and hyperref to work together. -- Note (added 2015/02/11): natbib and hyperref have been working together just fine for at least ten years. hypernat is no longer needed for any TeX distribution with a vintage more recent than ca 2002.

  • 8
    I'm pretty sure that hypernat is superfluous these days. With only loading natbib and hyperref I get references as [1-5] with both 1 and 5 being hyperlinks.
    – Lev Bishop
    Commented Aug 8, 2010 at 14:51
  • Agreed, I didn't even know about hypernat until I saw this answer. I have been using hyperref and natbib for a while and reference links and backlinks always worked for me. Is there some extra functionality that hypernat adds?
    – Sharpie
    Commented Aug 9, 2010 at 17:31
  • I had a problem once, found out about natbib, and have been using it ever since, so it is possible it is superfluous and I didn't even know. I will have to test it out and get back to you guys if I find something.
    – Vivi
    Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 20:18
  • 2
    And? Was it superfluous in 2010? Is it now? ;) Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 5:18
  • 1
    @K.-MichaelAye - hypernat was superfluous (and potentially troublesome) back in 2010 and in 2012, and it continues to be superfluous as of 2015.
    – Mico
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 21:13

I almost always find myself using a tabularx environment as opposed to the regular tabular environment, as it allows for greater dynamism in column widths.

  • I prefer the newer tabularray. It's more powerful and produces better designed tabulars. It does require much processing power, so I usually enable it near the end.
    – Bart
    Commented May 20 at 14:41

To make sure you have ISO formated dates (YYYY-MM-DD).



\newcommand{\todayiso}{\the\year \dateseparator \twodigit\month \dateseparator \twodigit\day}

Another package I use is float. It allows for the placement H for floats, which is somewhat equivalent to h!, but a bit stronger, making sure the figure or table goes exactly where I want it to be.

  • 7
    Actually not equivalent to h! at all. h! floats still "float"- they can be moved around by LaTeX in an attempt to optimize the document layout. Figures using the H specifier are not floats at all, they are treated like one big character and are put exactly where they appear in the text.
    – Sharpie
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 3:59
  • @Sharpie: you are ignoring the word "somewhat" :P Still, your point is valid, thanks!
    – Vivi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 4:21
  • 1
    I did consider the word somewhat. However, in my opinion the only similarity between the two is the fact that they are used as float specifiers. Beyond that, both specifiers produce completely different effects.
    – Sharpie
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 6:14
  • @Sharpie: maybe I should link to the source of the (mis)information? en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/… (see the last row of the table)
    – Vivi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 6:32
  • @Vivi I fixed that entry of the wikibook.
    – Skillmon
    Commented Dec 15, 2018 at 10:46

For mathematical texts I instead use amsmath & Co. One very useful package is onlyamsmath. I load it as


So it looks for $$..$$, eqnarray and produces a warning if some of them are used. If you left out warning, it will result in an error and compile will stop. This package is normally very useful if you edit a text with many authors.


Edited by doncherry: Removed packages mentioned in separate answers.

The complete header Part of my header for most of my documents looks as follows:


For some things I need if-then-constructs. This package provides an easy way to realise it.


For generating an index.


xcolor is needed by several packages. For some historical reason I load it manually.


nicefrac allows typesetting fractions like 1/2. It is sometimes more readable than \frac.


This package warns if non-amsmath-environments are used.


Provides ISO conform greek letters.


Defines comma as decimal delimiter.


for Theorems, definitions and stuff.


Improves enumerate and itemize. Also provides some compact environments.


I work with VCS and svn displays some informations (keywords) from SVN.


corrects \dots


These are the definitions for absolute value and norm.

\SVN $LastChangedRevision$
\SVN $LastChangedDate$
  • 26
    "one thing (in this case, package) per answer" Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 19:02
  • 4
    Could you break this up into multiple answers please, so they can be voted on? Having a dozen answers is ok! Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 14:41
  • Excellent list with helpful commentary. I will add the one for old and deprecated things to my list. Thanks!
    – DJP
    Commented Jul 30, 2011 at 20:31
  • 3
    It is usually recommended to load hyperref last. Commented May 1, 2012 at 20:20
  • 1
    ellipsis, didn't know that one, thanks.
    – Bart
    Commented May 20 at 15:04

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