The all-embracing majority of us use word-processors to accomplish all of our document-preparation needs. It has become the accepted in autograph our letters, resumes, novels, belletrist and theses, and best of us accept not apparent the charge to analyze alternatives. Indeed, abounding of us are not alike acquainted that there are alternatives (other than the typewriter!) to the word-processor.
Enter LaTeX: not a word-processor, but a book arrangement advised to aftermath beautiful, able abstracts that are above to word-processor abstracts in abounding ways. (Technically, a affairs alleged TeX is absolutely the book system; LaTeX is a macro amalgamation that makes TeX a bit easier to use. For the purposes of this article, I’ll be application these agreement rather interchangeably.) Abounding of you accept apparently not heard of it, but it isn’t a new allotment of software — it has been about back 1984, but has appropriately far been relegated to mostly mathematicians and added academics authoritative use of its able adeptness to typeset circuitous formulas.
In this commodity I’d like to accommodate a abrupt addition to what LaTeX is, its advantages over word-processors, and how to get started application LaTeX on OSX.
But what the heck is LaTeX, and how is it altered from word-processors? LaTeX software about takes a raw text-file and compiles it into a typeset document. The text-file is comprised of the agreeable of the certificate structured by a markup accent that specifies advice about the document: what affectionate of certificate it is (e.g., article, book), what is a header, footer, title, bibliography citation, what argument is italicized, ded, etc. (If you are accustomed with HTML you’ll agenda that a LaTeX book looks abundant like an HTML file.) LaTeX takes all of this advice and spits out a lovely, affected certificate (as, e.g., a pdf file), structured absolutely as you specify.
The aesthetics of LaTeX is about the following: the arrangement itself handles the presentation of the certificate (the attending of the fonts, margins, area headers, etc.) , acceptance the biographer to apply on the agreeable and anatomy of the document. The biographer does what she does best — writes — and LaTeX handles the rest.
So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of application LaTeX over word-processors? Let’s briefly account its pros and cons:
So, should I use LaTeX? There will be abounding die-hard LaTeX admirers acknowledgment with an absolute “Yes!”, and others who will aloof as angrily abandon all things LaTeX. I think, ultimately, that it is abundant a amount of preference. If you are an bookish or added austere writer, I aboveboard advance at atomic giving LaTeX a try (LaTeX artlessly has so abounding advantages back creating long, complex, or reference-laden documents). For the blow of us boilerplate joes, who alone charge to actualize the casual letter, resume, or report, I say analysis it out if it intrigues you (otherwise, it apparently won’t be account the bother).
How does one get started application LaTeX? As far as software goes, you alone charge to two things to aftermath LaTeX documents:
Instead of a text-editor, you may opt to get a complete LaTeX front-end: a allotment of software that includes an editor accurately advised for LaTeX (including abounding LaTeX templates and commands, as able-bodied as accumulation options, accessible from a acceptable menu). Such a front-end can accomplish LaTeX abundant easier to use for a newbie.
Below I’ve listed some software to get you started. There is a lot of software out there, so I’m alone advertisement applications that I myself accept acclimated and accept had success with. All applications listed beneath are chargeless unless contrarily noted.
LaTeX and LaTeX-Related Applications
I afresh apparent MacTeX, which is an all-embracing amalgamation that installs appealing abundant all of the software you’ll charge to get started, including TeX, LaTeX, TexShop, Excalibur and BibDesk. If you’re aloof starting out with LaTeX, this would be a abundant choice.
This commodity has alone aching the apparent of LaTeX and LaTeX in OSX, but I achievement it has affronted your concern abundant to analysis it out added on your own. Happy TeXing!
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