Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange


I've been using LaTeX and MetaPost for about 10 years, occasionally playing with pure TeX. I read the newsgroup comp.text.tex regularly, and have learnt a lot from the wizards there.

I spend quite a lot of time reading manuals. When someone asks me for help, and the solution involves package foo, I strongly urge them to read the documentation for foo, or at the very least the part solving their problem.

Since I don't have a blog (or even an actively maintained website), let me put a small rant here:

I don't like to see when people (often beginners) get wrong answers, just because they did not ask the right question. A few examples should explain what I mean:

Q: How do I write $lcm(12,18)$ so that lcm comes out in roman?

A0 Use "lcm$(12,18)"

A1 $\mathrm{lcm}(12,18)$

A2 $\operatorname{lcm}(12,18)

A0 is obviously very wrong. The two others are not strictly wrong as they answer the question, but they don't answer the question the OP meant to ask, namely "How do I define my own operator, like \gcd". Often the beginner does not know that that is the Right Question, so it is up to those with experience to answer

A Use the \DeclareMathOperator from the amsmath package; say e.g. \DeclareMathOperator{\lcm}{lcm}.

While A2 comes close, we certainly don't want people to get the impression that they need to type 18 characters every time they want "lcm".

Another example is

Q How do I make a curly C?

Wrong A: \mathcal{C}

Right A: If you are writing about category theory, say, you can define a macro \cat which typesets its argument using a calligraphic math font: Just write \newcommand{\cat}[1]{\mathcal{#1}} in your preamble, and then use \cat{C} whenever you want to refer to the category C. If you later decide that you want to use boldface for categories instead, you just change \mathcal to \mathbf.

people reached
  • Denmark
  • Member for 8 years, 9 months
  • 435 profile views
  • Last seen Mar 19 at 8:25

Top tags (45)

Score 94
Posts 4
Posts % 18
Score 84
Posts 2
Score 74
Posts 1
Score 37
Posts 2
Score 36
Posts 2
Score 36
Posts 1

Top posts (22) All Questions Answers | Votes Newest

View all questions and answers

Badges (44)