Introduction to LaTeX – A Type Setting System


LaTeX is not a wordprocessor but a typesetting system that achieves beautifully typeset documents without any deeper typographic knowledge. LaTeX is most widely used by mathematicians, scientists, engineers, philosophers, economists and other scholars in academia and the commercial world, and other professionals as a primary or an intermediate format (e.g. translating DocBook and other XML-based formats to PDF).

lateX logoLaTeX is used because of the high quality of typesetting achievable by TeX. The typesetting system 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 and bibliographies.

Key Features of LaTeX

  • Typesetting journal articles, technical reports, books, and slide presentations.
  • Control over large documents containing sectioning, cross-references, tables and figures.
  • Typesetting of complex mathematical formulas.
  • Advanced typesetting of mathematics with AMS-LaTeX.
  • Automatic generation of bibliographies and indexes.
  • Multi-lingual typesetting.
  • Inclusion of artwork, and process or spot colour.
  • Using PostScript or Metafont fonts.

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Advantages of Using LaTeX:

LaTeX gives you several advantages over regular wordprocessors, depending on what you plan to do with it. The most important of them all shall be mentioned here.

  • Free availability – For almost any operating system a LaTeX distribution is available to download for free on the internet. This leads us to
  • LaTeX plattform-independent – Documents created by LaTeX can be opened, edited and printed on almost any available computersystem
  • LaTeX produces brilliant typographic output – Other than regular wordprocessors LaTeX produces beautifully typeset documents without requiring the user to know anything about typography
  • Typesetting mathmatical equations – Especially engineers, mathmaticians and other users who need to include formulas or equations in their documents can create these very same in a good-looking and rather easy way.
  • Logical instead of physical formatting – This means that all formatting is done by LaTeX, the user only defines the structure of a document.
  • Stability – LaTeX is one of the most stable software packages, which is proven by the fact, that it has been around in its current version. There is no such thing as data loss.

References – LaTeX Features extracted from latex-project.orgWikipedia, Yauh.de,