Slightly tongue-in-cheek this one but written in good faith...

I am a competent user of LaTeX and use it with Eclipse as IDE, MacTexlive as install, and XeTeX as engine to author my PhD.

However, there are times when I like to procrastinate and love LaTeX as an end in itself not just as a means to an end. What would you recommend as a good way of procrastinating whilst usefully extending my capabilities and abilities to use LaTeX?

In the past SVN, biber and beamer have served to distract me from my thesis. Any more potentially fruitful areas?

  • 61
    Try to answer questions on this site! I find that the best way to learn about a wide range of issues, and get really good, constructive and quick feedback from experienced users.
    – Jake
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 18:38
  • 14
    Of course there are :D Try TikZ/pgf. You can create great graphics for your Phd while procrastinating ;-) Also there are over 700 pages of manual you can read.
    – Dave
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 18:38
  • 12
    Be careful what you wish for :)
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 18:39
  • 16
    LaTeX3 is very good for procrastination.
    – egreg
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 18:45
  • 22
    Just don't do it. Get out into nature and take some fresh air. And then back to your real project :-)
    – Daniel
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 20:02

5 Answers 5


You probably had some customization in your thesis. Try to make a package of your code, publish it on CTAN and then support it, answering users' requests.

This will definitely help you to learn TeX and to procraste in your other activity.

At least this advice works for me.

  • You're right; previous answers have helped me customise my bibliography and provide word counts for specific sections of text without detexing and/or parsing through some other external program.
    – DGarside
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 19:14

Get yourself a book on typography, e.g. The Elements of Typographic Style, and try to improve your thesis. Be critical about the things mentioned, and try to implement the things you'd like to see in your thesis.


I found that learning TikZ a wonderful way of expanding my knowledge of Latex and vector graphics. It also had the handy side affect that the diagrams and charts in my masters project report looked beautiful.


comb through the package library and grab all those packages involving typography, lines/shapes, layout, displaystyle, formatting, etc...

Also, you can \define and \redefine as many things as possible. It makes proof readers of your tex file want to strangle you with all the new definitions and packages to install. :p


... as I relished the post I immediately thought of (1) TikZ/PGF, closely followed by (2) LaTeX3, then noticed with little surprise that both topics had already been suggested. Time consuming they may be, time wasters they are not!

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