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What resources (online or otherwise) exist that give good advice on best practices for TeX, etc.? I'm looking particularly for things that assume you already know TeX or LaTeX, and aim to help you achieve better results, with rationales explained. Resources with some specific focus are welcome. I'll start a list with two suggestions of my own so you can see what I mean.

Somewhat to my surprise I haven't found this question asked here already. (Please point me to it if I'm wrong!) Note that what I'm asking is somewhat different from What are good learning resources for a LaTeX beginner? and What are other good resources on-line for information about TeX, LaTeX and friends?, although there's lots of room for overlapping answers.

12 Answers 12

43

The Essential Guide to LaTeX2ε Usage (l2tabu) explains some of the most common mistakes in LaTeX usage.

  • 5
    Yeah, it's a great document, though these days several (not all) of the obsolete commands they warn against have thankfully become obscure and you wouldn't hear of them unless you read this document. :-) – ShreevatsaR Jul 29 '10 at 15:47
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    Wait, \begin{displaymath} is bad? Whoohoo! I've broken a best practices in past! Now I have to map [ to something more legible for when I want something without a number beside it. – Canageek Sep 29 '11 at 22:06
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    @Carnageek: \begin{displaymath} is good. $$ ... $$ should be replaced by it, in fact. Noting this to make sure readers don't get as confused as I was about your comment! – Doggie52 May 2 '12 at 8:45
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The AMS's Short Math Guide for LaTeX, besides being a good summary of math support (both native to (La)TeX and in the AMS's packages), includes a lot of good advice about typesetting math with LaTeX.

16

Though apparently removed from Stack Overflow1, there is a similar question available at archive.org: Best practices in LaTeX [closed]

The answers are quite useful.


  1. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/193298/best-practices-in-latex
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    The question appears to have been removed. – T. Verron Sep 8 '14 at 9:09
14

The Beamer User Guide spends a lot of time on best practices both on using the Beamer package specifically, and more generally on writing presentations. (Personally I find its tone somewhat off-puttingly preachy at times, but the advice is good.)

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    Given the number of awful presentations/seminars I've attended (with or without a computer), I find I can forgive his preachy tone! – Loop Space Jul 29 '10 at 15:25
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A. J. Hildebrand has an extensive list of very useful "best practices" LaTeX tips.

9

I just stumbled upon the booktabs manual, which discusses best practices for designing tables.

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    +1, probably the most cited reference in questions on tabulars on tex.sx :) – doncherry Oct 16 '12 at 3:10
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This may be off-topic, but chapter 2 of the KOMA-script-guide is a good introduction to constructing a typographically sound page layout.

6

I'll stick in the PGF package manual as well as it contains a fair amount of advice about how to prepare graphics and what makes a good graphic.

(NB One thing I find particularly good about advice is that even if I disagree with it, it makes me think about why I disagree with it and that makes me better at whatever it is.)

  • Re the NB: this is why I especially like advice that comes with a rationale. – Mark Meckes Jul 29 '10 at 15:32
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    It's by the same author as Beamer (Till Tantau) BTW. Similar good advice. :-) – ShreevatsaR Aug 6 '10 at 4:33
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This is probably a fairly niche market but Philipp Lehman's Font Installation Guide or texdoc fontinstall contains a lot of really helpful information about using fonts with LaTeX (and pdfLaTeX). In particular, it covers installing type1 fonts, although it can be fairly easily adapted to truetype fonts (pdfLaTeX only).

I think the nice thing about this guide is that it helps to make clear why things are set up in particular ways and why you should configure things in one way rather than another if you are trying to create support files for a font in LaTeX.

fontname is useful in this respect, as well, and helps decode the cryptic font names many packages use.

psnfss gives basic information about using standard type 1 fonts (as opposed to installing them).

  • Well this guide is 100 pages...For installing a font! Actually it is first 20 pages but still... A lot! – 71GA Sep 5 '15 at 15:22
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    @71GA There's a reason I said it was probably a niche market ;). Installing an arbitrary font from scratch for (pdf)TeX in a satisfactory way is no picnic. That's why almost everyone almost always relies on existing font packages or uses Xe/LuaTeX. – cfr Sep 5 '15 at 15:54
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TeX by Topic – a TeXnician's Reference by Victor Eijkhout probably is a must read to reach unexpected results and developments.

  • 404 Not Found ☹ – mirabilos Dec 1 '15 at 17:28
  • @mirabilos link updated – pluton Dec 2 '15 at 11:49
2

I made a introduction for phd students -- I tried to show the best practise based on recent books and the discussions on the de.comp.text.tex (dctt). I also read the l2tabu.pdf of course.

Here's the material - maybe somebody finds it still useful.



It is in German but there are many code examples (LaTeX code vs. result). The handout always consists of the full code. The slides sometimes only show a partial code.

The course took about 5 hours. If you really try to do it by yourself step-by-step then you should calculate about 2-3 days.

1

The book LaTeX: A Document Preparation System by Leslie Lamport is very easy to use and contains very concise explanations with practical examples.

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