Introduction to LaTeX
There are many reasons why anyone should learn LaTeX. The main ones being that:
- It is absolutely free
- No built-in obsolescence. Works today, then it works forever.
- Best possible document quality, especially for documents filled with mathematical equations
- Easy manipulation of float elements (figures and tables)
- Clear separation between the writing process and the typesetting process allowing writers to concentrate on what they should do, to write.
There are a lot more reasons to learn and use LaTeX but I want to add only that, it works and it works flawlessly.
The main reason for not using LaTeX is that LaTeX is not a WYSIWYG (‘What You See Is What You Get’) text editor. However, all the advantages of LaTeX overcompensate this hurdle. Even more, once you learn to use LaTeX this same reason will become another reason to actually use LaTeX, because you will discover that separating the writing and typesetting process, indeed, allows you to really focus on writing.
What is LaTeX?
LaTeX is a markup language employed to access the functionalities of TeX and TeX is a typesetting program. LaTeX was developed in the 1980s by Leslie Lamport while working at SRI International. Donald Knuth is the creator and main developer of Tex.
LaTeX especially shines when users deal with complex documents. And by complex documents I mean: bachelor, master or Ph.D. thesis, project proposals, complex reports or books. Thus, if you are about to start writing anything near these types of documents then you should take the time to learn LaTeX. It may be that the time spent learning will be more than compensated when you avoid worrying about flying figures or tables, track changes that ruin your document, introducing a new section that change everything before it, landscape pages with the wrong header positions, styles that change when switching computers and a long etc.
In this tutorial, I will explain how to create this document. Take a few minutes to go through the document to learn a little bit more about LaTeX/TeX and to see all the LaTeX/TeX features you will learn by following this tutorial.
After this brief introduction to LaTeX we can take the first step in our learning quest, which is, to install the programs required to easily use LaTeX.