Introduction to TeX and LaTeX
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About TeX and LaTeX

Here's the first thing to know:

  • TeX is pronounced like the "tech" in technology. LaTeX is pronounced like "law-tech" or (sometimes) "lay-tech".

So what do these oddly pronounced and oddly spelled words represent? One might officially call them "document preparation systems", but basically they are a markup language allowing you to typeset mathematical expressions easily. You don't get the nice point-and-click that comes with Microsoft products, but you do get beautiful equations and automatic handling of things like page numbering, equation numbering, table of contents, etc.

Benefits of TeX

Some of the benefits of using TeX are:

  • Automatic numbering of pages, equations, sections, etc.
  • Easy to write mathematical expressions.
  • Spacing in mathematical expressions is handled very well (particularly in comparison to other products out there!)
  • Automatic generation of table of contents.
  • Automatic handling of bibliographic information.
  • Fully customizable.

Some of the drawbacks are:

  • Need to "compile" documents before seeing what they look like.
  • No point-and-click interface.
  • Can be difficult to insert pictures into documents.
  • Sometimes takes a lot of searching to find out how to do what you want to do.

The Structure of a TeX Document

Here is the basic code for a TeX document:

\documentclass{article}

\begin{document}
Hello world.
\end{document}

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