TeX and LaTeX are widely used in Computer Science. What other academic disciplines or professionals use it?
I'm a minister of religion and I use LaTeX for both sermons and theological papers. I keep all my work in version control and the plain text format just makes so much more sense than a word processor.
I'd love an excuse to put some mathematical notation into a sermon one day, but I'm yet to find one.
Nobody mentioned engineers --- everybody from my research group (optimization-driven design) is using LaTeX for all our publications, reports, compendiums, lab assignments, etc., despite the fact we're pretty much a Microsoft shop up here.
Some journals in the field, however, started accepting .doc or .odf files as well, much to my frustration. But as long as LaTeX is an option, no way we're switching to something else.
Background: At this point essentially all math papers are written in TeX/LaTeX. Almost all journals will want you, once your paper is accepted, to send them the .tex source (possibly after making sure it works with their in-house .cls file). I don't think I've ever seen a math paper on the arXiv in anything other than TeX and its variants. I only know of three mathematicians who don't know how to use TeX, and hundreds who do.
(I know this was mentioned in the post by Michael Underwood, but I thought I would separate mathematicians from physicists, for whom there seems to be some disagreement.)
Well, anything that needs nice typesetting of mathematics.
Beyond that, many peer-reviewed journals accept or require submissions to be in LaTeX- this covers many, many fields.
Personally, I use it for:
Documents that contain lots of formulae.
Documents that require extensive cross-referencing and a sane system for doing so.
Documents that require the output of computer programs. Systems like Sweave (for R) or the more general noweb allow reports and the code that generates the data being reported to be combined into a single file.
Documents that must be automatically generated by computer programs. LaTeX is a perfect system for creating high-quality PDF files that are generated from templates. The brew package provides one such templating system for R.
Documents where I want to deliver results with as much impact as I can. Good typography is absolutely essential for doing this in a sublime way. I.E. the person reading your report doesn't know why they like it more than they should- but they can't help themselves.
I'm an attorney at law in Germany and writing all contracts and motions using LaTeX. Word tried to outsmart me too often; and especially while under stress working against deadlines I found that very annoying. Using LaTeX I can get printed things exactly as I wish it, which is also very important.
Educators! I am a math teacher, so I use LaTeX to make sure my materials look professional. I also love the flexibility, cross-platform compatibility and permanence of writing my materials in LaTeX. No matter where I teach or what technology I have access to, I'll be able to find a computer somewhere that can compile .tex files and display a PDF. Not to mention all of the other things the other people here mentioned.
It does seem that it’s really catching on in my field (Philosophy); it certainly started with the logicians and philosophers of science, but has definitely spread even to those whose work has relatively little formalism. (I know a few ethicists using it.)
In addition to what has already been said, a couple of publishers use some variant of TeX for the books they release, sometimes as their only typesetting software. I'm aware of a least half a dozen such small publishing houses in Europe and North America; they use it for all kind of books, not only scientific ones. And of course, big scientific publishers like Springer or Elsevier use TeX extensively because they deal with lots of mathematics texts.
But one of my funniest encounters with TeX was when I overheard two staff members in a big Chinese bookshop in Paris discussing how to process documents with TeX; I think they used it to produce the shop’s catalogue (and needed it to typeset Chinese).
I use it for any important, customer facing documentation for our software company. That means, all of our contracts, product catalogs and product documentation. The fact that you can throw it into source control so nicely is huge! It's the only truly cross-platform tool that I know of, outside of InDesign. Also, nothing on earth does cross-referencing or indexing nearly as well.
Finally, for our product catalog, I use the DataTool. I'm able to save the product pricing spreadsheet out of Numbers or Excel and create 12 specific versions our price sheet. We're a small company and there is no way we would price our products or have as many specific kinds of dealers without LaTeX, just because there is no other, efficient way to do what we do with it.
Every now and again, we think, "Is there something easier that the rest of our staff would pick up more readily?" We always come back to LaTeX. Sometimes, it's a little bit hard to do a really complicated and important thing.
I produce work --- essays, poetry, broadsides --- using both digital (LaTeX) and traditional letterpress (lead type, ink, mechanical press) technologies. LaTeX is invaluable for trying layouts before the time consuming effort of letterpress work, especially for books consisting of several signatures.
LaTeX is also used (by others) to create critical editions of texts in many languages.
Literate programmers use TeX for commenting their code, and many more simply use TeX for documentation, especially if the program is math-heavy.
I use LaTeX to produce my illustrated children's books. Introduce kids to TeX before they've even heard of a word processor
I was asked by children at an infant school book reading how I produce my books so I told them about LaTeX (although I'm not sure how much of it they understood).
(I know that may not be technically accurate since I used LaTeX2e, developed by the LaTeX Project team, rather than LaTeX2.09, developed by Lamport, but there wasn't enough space to elaborate. However it has generated some interest in TeX and LaTeX when I talk at literary events.)
And naturally I used LaTeX to typeset my LaTeX text books
I'm an anthropologist, and have been working in collaboration in departments of both biology and social sciences in Chile and UK.
I have never met another anthropologist who uses LaTeX, though I can think of hundreds of useful applications (TikZ can be amazing to draw archaeological plans, LaTeX allow to design great layouts for informant quotations and discourse analyses). This is very annoying, especially when they export wonderful R graphics to bitmaps!
It is also used by some philologists and critical editors, mostly because you can't have multiple footnotes layers with more generally widespread word processors, while it is quite easy to do so with critical edition packages such as
Ledmac. It is also easier to typeset parallel texts, to have numbered texts and line references in footnotes, and so on.
More generally, and from my experience, LaTeX is becoming more often used in the Humanities.
I'm an IT consultant. I use LaTeX for all my text processing. That includes:
- Proposals (memoir)
- Technical documentation, including requirements, design, and code (memoir, TikZ)
- Contracts (memoir)
- Presentations (beamer)
- (And where a client shows interest, I also encourage them to wander in the direction of TeX)
And then there's real life:
- General correspondence (memoir + ryo letter packages)
- Writing for writing's sake
- Odds and sods (lost cat posters, etc.)
I find that, in general, people do react positively when they see a nice bit of typesetting.
I am in the Earth Sciences, more specifically glaciological research. I use LaTeX for authoring papers since many Earth Science journals have LaTeX templates (incl. Elsevier, AGU, Int'l Glaciological Soc. and Copernicus). I am also Editor in Chief of an international journal in my field and am implementing a template for that journal in collaboration with a professional LaTeX expert. I have also started to convert many of my teaching documentation to LaTeX. My university does not provide LaTeX templates so i have adjusted beamer, beamerposter, the university letter head, and our standard ways to provide course information (incl. grading criteria, course schedules etc.) into LaTeX. Being in charge of the research education in the dept., I am trying to influence our graduate students to at least be aware of LaTeX. Some have become hooked which is always a good feeling. Working in an otherwise totally Office dominated environment has its chalenges but when you enjoy LaTeX, then what else can you do.
Regular people that just want a good looking resume.
As the author of a resume class, I've received countless requests for help or new features coming from first time LaTeX users, many of them asking me some variation of:
I believe I need this LaTeX thing. How do I get it? I just want my resume to look like yours
I've received emails ranging from a fireman (with a great feature idea) to a classical singer...
I'm a UK based psychology PhD student. I'm using LaTeX for my dissertation and use Beamer for presentations. The only other person using it in my department trained as an econometrician. I'm forced to use MS Word for journal articles as a) coauthors generally use it, and b) most journals only accept .doc or .rtf.
Here is a rule of thumb one of my colleagues mentioned to me about 10 years ago, and I religiously practice since then:
If it is 1-2 sentences, write it by hand.
If it is one page, delegate to the secretary
If it two pages, do it yourself on MSWord. (I use open office)
Anything longer, do it yourself with LaTeX!