The majority of this book is about using LateX 2e, a descendant of LaTeX
, designed by Leslie Lamport
, based on TeX
, originated by Donald E. Knuth
. This is a typesetting
program, not a word processor. You enter some editor that saves plain text files. Then, you type text freely until you need something special, such as italic
font or a complex mathematical expression.
It was the desire to have high quality, low cost publications in mathematics and related disciplines that caused Knuth (pronounced Kah-nooth
) to invent TeX (pronounced Tek
) in the late 1970's. Originally believing that he could write a program in less than a year that could typeset documents, he actually ended up defining an entire branch of research in computer science. It was 10 years later that he published his seminal book, The TeX Book
, but he published articles along the way, and he permanently changed the way mathematical documents are prepared. LaTeX (pronounced Lah-tek
) is a collection of macros
built on top of TeX that "represents a balance between functionality and ease of use". LaTeX 2e is the current version, developed by a team of volunteers: Johannes L. Braams, David P. Carlisle, Alan Jeffrey. Frank Mittelbach, Chris Rowley. and Rainer Schopf.
A comprehensive coverage of LaTeX and the many enhancements to it is given by the The LaTeX Companion
. By contrast, this book is designed to be a succinct introduction, omitting many of the things LaTeX 2e can do. The book's goal is to offer enough of an introduction that someone not acquainted with LaTeX (or with TeX) can write a term paper, thesis, or article, using LaTeX 2e to produce high quality results. Exercises are provided for guided instruction, which should be just a few classes. For one who is well acquainted with computers, particularly unix, the basics that are covered should take less than 10 hours, and one could do all of the exercises. For one who is just learning how to use a computer, it will take longer, especially getting used to functioning at the command line. In any case, the finer points require more study.