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Notes on using LaTeX

What is LaTeX?

  • LaTeX is a document preparation system for producing high quality technical documents
  • It is the standard method for writing mathematics
  • Why is it written “LaTeX” and not “latex”? A good question. Here is an answer. But from here on we’ll just write “latex”.

Do I have to use latex?

  • Short answer = No.
  • Slightly longer answer = No, but your homework has to be typeset.
  • Even longer answer = No, but your homework has to be typeset, and:
    • We strongly recommend that you use latex.
    • Though it is difficult initially, it is by far the easiest method for producing legible mathematical documents.
    • You might try using various word processors (word, libreoffice, openoffice, etc) but we take no responsibility for the pain, suffering and hair loss it might cause.
    • There are more wysiwyg (or wysiwym) solutions like texmacs and LyX.
    • Another possibility is to use mathml or mathjax to embed your mathematics in a webpage for printing. You could also try to use markdown with some extensions to typeset mathematics. These might not be so easy to do.
  • Final answer = We do not mind what you use, as long as the homework you hand in is neatly typeset and easy to read and printed on paper and stapled.

Other people’s notes on using latex

Online latex

  • You don’t have to install latex on your computer, instead you can use some online tools
  • These are very good tools and will be sufficient for your homework.
  • All can be used free of charge - you do not have to buy an account.

Offline latex

  • If you do wish to install it then there are quite a few options depending on your OS. See here
    • Linux - texlive is a good option. It is part of most flavours of linux - how you install it depends on your distribution. You will need an editor too.
    • OSX - mactex is recommended. You might then install texshop which is a great free latex editor.
    • Windows - miktex is a good option, but we have no experience installing or using latex on windows.
  • Please note that we will not be able to help you with installation.
  • If in doubt, use one of the online latex websites mentioned above.