Some of the available classes of documents in LaTeX are well known and widely used, such as the article and beamer classes, while others are not so well known, such as the standalone class.

I found this figure (edit: transcribed)

article for articles in scientific journals, presentations, short reports, program documentation, invitations, ...
proc a class for proceedings based on the article class.
minimal is as small as it can get. It only sets a page size and a base font. It is mainly used for debugging purposes.
report for longer reports containing several chapters, small books, thesis, ...
book for real books
slides for slides. The class uses big sans serif letters.
memoir for changing sensibly the output of the document. It is based on the book class, but you can create any kind of document with it (1)
letter For writing letters.
beamer For writing presentations (see LaTeX/Presentations).

which lists the main classes and is a good starting point, but the description is too short and still leaves one wondering when it would be more suitable to choose one class over the other and what the characteristics of each class is. Furthermore, the list is not exhaustive I think, given that I know at least one more document class that is not there (the standalone class, as I mentioned).

So my question is: what are the available classes of documents in LaTeX, and could you provide a brief description of the class and the situations where it would be recommended?

Please give only one class per answer.

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    There is no such thing as a definitive list, so at best you will get a partial answer here. There are a lot of classes for journals, for example. – Joseph Wright Aug 1 '10 at 20:24
  • @Joseph: I imagine classes can be created at any time, so I know what you mean. I am more interested in finding out some unknown package that might be useful to me and also understanding the differences between some of the "well-known" packages, because to date I have only ever used the three I mentioned in my question (article, beamer and standalone). – Vivi Aug 1 '10 at 20:28
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    I think this question is too open ended and just voted to close. There are literally thousands of classes out there. I would be much more interested in similar questions by topic, e.g. we already have classes for letters, maybe also classes for slides, classes for cv's, etc. People will search by topic. – Juan A. Navarro Aug 2 '10 at 22:52
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    @Navarro Don't vote to close it, it should be moved to community wiki, that way this can stay open for discussion and maybe we can learn something from it, it's a nice general question for beginners looking to get a foothold in LaTeX. – EricR Aug 3 '10 at 4:49
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    The standalone class actually simply loads a real class but uses the preview package to reduce the page size to the content. It is supposed to be used for subfiles holding only picture or similar code which are then included into a main document. The standalone class and package allow this files to be compiled standalone or as part of the main document without adjusting the file. – Martin Scharrer Feb 28 '11 at 0:43

31 Answers 31


The flashcards class provides an interface to produce ... well, is not hard guess it yourself, is not it?


The source code of the image is in Specification of the Layout for Q-A Reference Cards (Flashcards, Visual Cards).

Note that also exist the class flacards(without the "sh" of flash) for the same purpose, and in TeXLive, the oldflashcard (without the final "s" and without user's manual), so be careful that a mistake in the name could load a wrong class without warning you a this point.

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