Latex… The easy Way!

“What is LaTeX??” a relatively natural question for most people!

A little background:

LaTeX is a text editor used to give high quality output PDF files. It is not based on the same concept as MS Word © or Apple’s Pages © that show you what you are typing laid-out as the finished document (WYSIWYG). It uses a concept called What You See Is What You Mean (WYSIWYM); that means that when you type your text you add “markers” to format and structure it like this:

\documentclass{article}[a4paper]
\usepackage{dvips}
\title{A title}
\author{the author}
\begin{document}
\maketitle
\section{section title}
\subsection{subsection title}
...
# text #
...
\end{document}

The result is wonderful but the programming language you have to learn is darn right awfully boring. Moreover you don’t only have to concentrate on what you are writing but on programming how to write it out and “pray” for the code to compile.

Fortunately, there is an easier way to make the most of the niceness and freeness of LaTeX:

Since LaTeX is free you can download it from the internet (more info here). There is an open-source project called LyX (download links) that aims at being a WYSIWYG that creates WYSIWYM LaTeX code. The advantage is that we get the wonderful layout and great quality text PDFs without typing to much code and thus concentrate on the content. You still have to compile the document to see the final result but you can get a fairly good idea with the main content.

Why not just use LibreOffice or just plain old Word?

The formatting of the text in LaTeX is automatic and as such you do not get formatting errors when adding an image or removing a paragraph or something like that. The only thing you need to concentrate on is the content and it’s structure. Formatting is not something easy and takes a lot of time; let the computer do it for you and do it only where necessary. Lastly, when writing scientific material, LaTeX makes equation writing simple and even user friendly

In short:

LyX is a nice FREE latex WYSIWYG editor that helps you get great output with minimal effort. Go out on a limb; try it!

Need a little Help?

Check out the tutorials on the LyX wiki.

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