LATEX is a layout or typesetting system, which helps to produce documents with the high typographic quality of a good book. It's special strength is the setting of complicated mathematical formulae and the handling of large structured documents.

Basic idea: The author cares about the content and logical structure of the document. The layout is done by the LATEX system in accordance with predefined style definitions.

LATEX is freely available in the internet for all relevant operating systems.

Steps for the Creation of a document :

  1. Write a text file (using a simple editor), e.g. with the name mytext.tex, which contains the text and additional formatting commands.

  2. Translate the text with the command

    latex mytext.tex

    This creates (among others) a file mytext.dvi, which contains the layouted document in a LATEX-specific format.

  3. Display the document with

    xdvi mytext.dvi

    or another dvi viewer program and go back to 1 to apply corrections, if necessary.

  4. Generate a postscript file with

    dvips mytext

    which can be printed with a Postscript printer or displayed on the screen with ghostview.

Coming from a WYSIWYG system (``What You See Is What You Get'') like Word, this procedure appears to be rather complicated. The advantage is that the system can analyze the whole document to create an almost perfect layout.

LATEX commands start with the backslash '\'. They may contain arguments which are enclosed in square ([,] for optional arguments) or curly ({,}) brackets.

A LATEX document has the following structure






A demo latex document: latex-demo.tex

The generated document looks like:


A document in article style can be structured with the commands \section, \subsection, \subsubsection, \paragraph und \subparagraph. Corresponding titles are given as arguments.

Mathematical formulae are enclosed in $ ...$. Writing

\begin{equation} ... \end{equation}

displays the formula in a line of its own and adds an equation number.

Some commands:

name result
\alpha, \beta $\alpha, \beta$
\Gamma, \Delta $\Gamma, \Delta$
\frac{2}{4-x} $\frac{2}{4-x}$
\a_i, exp^{4\pi i} $a_i, exp^{4\pi i}$
\left( a*a \right) $\left( a*a \right)$
\sqrt{42+y} $\sqrt{42+y}$
\int_0^1 x^2 dx $\int_0^1 x^2 dx$

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Peter Junglas 8.3.2000