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TeX and LaTeX

Introduction to TeX Typesetting System and LaTeX Macros

The TeX typesetting package and the LaTeX macros for document layout system are available on the ACCC public personal computers. LaTeX and TeX are particularly useful for scientific, mathematical, and other technical word processing.

  • TeX is a typesetting package, which gives you very fine control over how each portion of text is placed on the page. For more information, see the TeX Users Group's (TUG) Just What is TeX?
  • LaTeX is a TeX macro package. It is a document layout system system that allows you to organize text in the various sections of the document without having to concern yourself with its placement or format. For more information, see TeX FAQ's What is LaTeX?
  • AmS-TeX is an alternate LaTeX macro set developed by the American Mathematical Society specifically for publications with mathematical content. For more information, see the AMS Web site:
  • Also there are a number of TeX/LaTeX tools, including BibTeX, which produces bibliographies.

TeX was originally written by Donald E. Knuth because he didn't like how the galley proofs of the second volume of his The Art of Computer Programming series of books looked, and it continues to be developed by Knuth and a group of individuals. It's a world-wide effort, as evidenced by Pedro J. Aphalo's page of TeX and LaTeX references.

How TeX/LaTeX/AmS-TeX Works

Unlike the WYSIWYG word processing packages that you're probably already familiar with (Word and WordPerfect, primarily), TeX and LaTeX (using the TeX typesetting package) originated as a mainframe text format package and they use a multi-step process.

  1. The desired text is first entered into a file using a text editor. This "input" file contains both text and either typesetting instructions (TeX) or document layout commands (LaTeX; these commands describe the separation of your document text into specific components -- title page, headings, paragraphs, figures, tables, list, bibliography).

  2. The input file containing the document's text and the typesetting instructions or layout commands is formatted. Formatting produces an output file containing the document's text in final formatted form.

  3. The output file is viewed online or sent to a printer.

When you use TeX or LaTeX, you will have little idea of how your final document will be formatted until you process the input file and look at the output file. It's a bit easier with LaTeX, however, because it's a document layout package. It allows you to pick a general document type, and based on your choice, will lay out the entire document accordingly. With LaTeX, you do not have to make choices concerning the specific formatting of any part of your text.

TeX and LaTeX Hardcopy Books and Web Links

The book on:

  • TeX is The TeXbook, written by Donald E. Knuth, the author of Tex.
  • LaTeX is LaTeX, a Document Preparation System, written by Leslie Lamport, the original architect and implementer of LaTeX.
  • AMSTeX is The Joy of TeX, written by Michael Spivak of the American Mathematical Society.

For descriptions of all of these books, plus a number of additional books on TeX and LaTeX, see Books from Personal TeX, Inc. (Personal TeX also sells them, but you can buy these books from any bookseller; check around to see if you can get a better price.)

For TeX on the Web, visit:

TeX and LaTeX at UIC

Many of documents listed below are available only in PDF form and as PostScript files (.ps extension). Most of the TeX files used to produce these the documents are also available online, in the directory; they provide good examples of how to use TeX, LaTeX, and these products.

  • TeX/LaTeX on ACCC UNIX
    • The TeXbook, by Donald E. Knuth
    • LaTeX, a Document Preparation System, by Leslie Lamport
    • tex and latex on UNIX at UIC (TeX, LaTeX, and TeX tools), including man pages
    • dvips on UNIX at UIC (TeX PostScript postprocessor), including man pages

  • PCTeX: PCTeX is available on the ACCC's public Windows personal computers; includes plain TeX and the LaTeX and AmS-TeX macro packages.
  • OzTeX: OzTeX is available on the ACCC's Macintosh personal computers; it includes all the popular formats and macro packages, including plain TeX, LaTeX, AMS-TeX, and AMS-LaTeX.
    • The TeXbook, by Donald E. Knuth
    • LaTeX, a Document Preparation System, by Leslie Lamport
    • OzTeX
    • OzTeX home page

  • TeX/LaTeX FAQs and archives
  • AmS-TeX and AmS-LaTeX: AmS-LaTeX is a macro package which provides AmS-TeX commands to the LaTeX user, without deviating from standard LaTeX syntax whenever possible. AmS-LaTeX is designed to simplify the input of mathematical material and format the output according to preset style specifications. More information is at the AMS Web site:
  • BIBTeX: BibTeX, a program originally designed to produce bibliographies in conjunction with LaTeX, is explained in Section 4.3 and Appendix B of Leslie Lamport's LaTeX manual
  • TeX/LaTeX layout tips and tools
TeX Printing and File Viewing Tools

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