Learn LaTex


This is the first of a series of blog posts about why you need to learn LaTeX and the benefits of doing so.

LaTeX is a markup language based on TeX–an early typesetting program written by Donald Knuth. It is used extensively in academia because of its advantages over traditional word processing applications such as Microsoft Word. It allows you to create beautiful documents with ease and efficiency.

I learned LaTeX after my professors announced that all assignments were required to be submitted in PDF format using LaTeX. I had no idea how to use it, but after just a few hours of googling, experimenting and reading documentation, I was able to submit my first assignment in LaTeX. The more I used it, the more I realized its advantages over other options such as Word.

When writing an academic paper, there are many things to keep in mind: title page, table of contents, margins, page numbering, paragraph indentation, bibliography and citation formatting, list formatting and many more. Using Word for this task can become tedious and time consuming since you must manually format each element. However, since LaTeX is designed for this purpose, it does all this work for you automatically. All you have to do is write the content of your document!

The basics of LaTeX are not difficult to learn. Once you can use this software, you will wonder how you ever did without it. It is not just used by scientists and engineers but also by many other people who need a high quality typesetting system that allows them to easily write complex mathematical expressions and symbols.

The LaTeX syntax is very simple and if you use an IDE like TeXnicCenter, the learning curve is small indeed. One thing to note at this point is that most people who use LaTeX have a degree in computer science. A lot of non-computer scientist users do not use an IDE and they end up writing a plain text file with the .tex extension in Notepad or any other plain text editor.

Why should one learn LaTeX?

LaTeX is being used for more than 20 years now for writing scientific documents. It has some advanced features which are not found in word processors such as Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Writer but it also has its downsides like a steep learning curve and many compilation errors which can be hard to fix especially if you have no idea what they mean.

One of the advantages of using LaTeX over other software packages is that it produces high quality documents which look professional and are easy on the eyes (

Who should read this blog (and who shouldn’t)? This is the first post in the Learn LaTeX in 30 days series. LaTeX is a fantastic typesetting program that a lot of people use these days, especially the math and computer science people in academia…

Since LaTeX is so important to your career, I’ve decided to write a 30-part series on how to use it. If you already know some things about LaTeX, feel free to skip around. But I recommend that you read it all anyway; my hope is that there will be something new for everybody…

What are the advantages of using LaTeX?

It’s free;

It’s very powerful;

It has great support for mathematics and symbols;

There is an enormous collection of templates available, making it easy to add a professional touch;

It can output very nice looking PDFs.

There are many reasons to learn LaTeX, but here is the top 10 as voted by you.

LaTeX is a markup language for describing documents. It provides markup commands for typesetting and formatting your text, e.g., chapter, section, subsection, etc. It also provides you with commands to create lists (itemize and enumerate), tables (tabular), figures, cross references and citations, equations and many more. LaTeX is free software and available for all modern operating systems. Other document preparation systems such as Microsoft Word are not free software.

You can write your document using a plain text editor such as Notepad on Windows or Emacs on Linux/Mac OSX. This means you can use your favourite text editor to write your documents and compile it with any computer that has LaTeX installed on it.

LaTeX allows you to focus on the content of what you are writing without worrying too much about the formatting of your document. The way you mark up your text largely determines the style of your document (e.g., section headings).

LaTeX allows you to easily handle all elements of a book: frontmatter (title page, abstract, table of contents, etc.), mainmatter (chapters, sections, etc.) and back

A lot of people ask why they should learn $\LaTeX$ and why they should use it. This blog is an attempt to answer those questions.

Here are six reasons why you should be using $\LaTeX$, a powerful typesetting system based on TeX that was created by Donald Knuth in the 1980s, particularly for writing mathematical and technical text.

It’s free! In fact, you may have already installed it without realizing (more on this later).

It’s cross-platform. You can write documents using $\LaTeX$ on Windows, Mac, Linux, any other platform you can think of; and then share them with others without worrying about compatibility issues.

It’s easy to learn. I’ll show you how to get up and running with $\LaTeX$ in 15 minutes with this tutorial.

$\LaTeX$ is easier on your eyes. When compared to editors like Microsoft Word or Pages, where everything is crammed into one tiny space, $\LaTeX$ lets you focus on writing rather than editing the document layout.

It separates content from presentation. The source code of a document in $\LaTeX$ consists solely of plain text interspersed with some commands that define the logical structure of the document (such as “chapter

LaTeX is a document preparation system and document markup language. LaTeX uses TeX as its foundation. It offers programmable desktop publishing features and extensive facilities for automating most aspects of typesetting and desktop publishing, including numbering and cross-referencing, tables and figures, page layout, bibliographies, and much more.

LaTeX is not a word processor! Instead, LaTeX encourages authors not to worry too much about the appearance of their documents but to concentrate on getting the right content.

This document is an attempt to provide a summary of useful command-line tools available to a GNU/Linux based operating system, the tools listed are designed to benefit the majority of users and have being chosen at the authors discretion. The tools listed are in no way ranked or evaluated for their usefulness or effectiveness.

With the exception of those explicitly marked as such, all tools are available on Debian 9 (Stretch) and Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver).

This article assumes some familiarity with the command-line and will not explain every switch or option for each tool. It is aimed at those who are new to GNU/Linux systems and wish to explore what they can do from the command-line.


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