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AmS-LaTeX Version 1.0 User's Guide


American Mathematical Society

August, 1990

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.

Only the first few sections of this document are available for online viewing through Inform; the entire document is available at:

Many of the documents referred to in this document are available as PostScript files (.ps extention) in the directory: and most of the files used to produce these documents are available in the directory.


The necessary documentation for using the AmS-LaTeX package has two parts: this User's Guide, and some sample files on CMS illustrating the features available in the AmS-LaTeX package. The file used to produce the User's Guide is AMSLATEX TEX; the sample files are named TESTART TEX and TESTBOOK TEX. Installation instructions for the AmS-LaTeX package are found in a separate file, AMLTINST TEX. As explained in the AMLTINST TEX file, installation requires making a new LaTeX format file. This User's Guide, however, can be typeset without the new format file, so that users can read it before proceeding further if they wish. As a consequence, though, it was impractical in many cases to show sample output for commands from the amstex option; this is done instead in the sample file TESTART TEX. In the User's Guide approximate output has been shown for the purposes of illustration when it was practical to do so in ordinary LaTeX.

For best understanding, you should be reasonably familiar with the LaTeX manual: LaTeX: A document preparation system, by Leslie Lamport. Reading The Joy of TeX (the manual for AmS-TeX) will help you get the most out of the AmS- LaTeX software, but is not mandatory. For users whose background is in AmS-TeX rather than LaTeX, there is an appendix describing the ways in which the LaTeX amstex option differs from AmS-TeX 2.0.

The AmS-LaTeX project
  AmS-TeX was originally released for general use in 1982. Its main strength is that it makes it easy for the user to typeset mathematics, while taking care of the many details necessary to make the output satisfy the high standards of mathematical publishing. It provides a predefined set of natural commands such as \matrix and \text that make complicated mathematics reasonably convenient to type. These commands incorporate the typesetting experience and standards of the American Mathematical Society, to handle problematic possibilities without burdening the user: matrices within matrices, or a word of text within a subscript, and so on.

AmS-TeX, unlike LaTeX does not have certain features that are very convenient for authors--automatic numbering that adjusts to addition or deletion of material being the primary one. There are also labor-saving ways provided in LaTeX for preparing such items as indexes, bibliographies, tables, and simple diagrams. These features are such a convenience for authors that the use of LaTeX spread rapidly in the mid-80s (a reasonably mature version of LaTeX was available by the end of 1983), and the American Mathematical Society began to be asked by its authors to accept electronic submissions in LaTeX.

The obvious question to ask was whether the strengths of AmS-TeX could be combined with the strengths of LaTeX, and in 1987 the American Mathematical Society began to investigate the possibility of doing just that. Work on the AmS-LaTeX project was carried out over the next three years by Romesh Kumar, a TeX consultant in the Chicago area, and by West German LaTeX experts Frank Mittelbach and Rainer Schopf, with assistance from Michael Downes of the American Mathematical Society Technical Support staff.

The overall philosophy was to provide AmS-TeX commands to the LaTeX user without deviating from standard LaTeX syntax whenever possible. Thus, to make their syntax more like normal LaTeX syntax, AmS-TeX commands having the form

\something ...  \endsomething
were converted to LaTeX environments, so that they now have the form
\begin{something} ...  \end{something}
For example, a matrix is typed as \begin{matrix} ... \end{matrix} instead of \matrix ... \endmatrix. Also, some commands that have top and bottom options were changed so that the option is specified using [t] or [b] instead of by a prefix top or bot in the command name. See Appendix B for more details.

A good part of the original AmS-TeX was whittled off in the creation of the amstex option. Many commands were redundant and were simply dropped; others seemed only marginally useful and were omitted in order to conserve control sequence memory. Some internal control sequences were eliminated by restructuring the code.

AmS-LaTeX is different enough from the original AmS-TeX that using the The Joy of TeX as documentation would be unsatisfactory. Instead, this User's Guide aims to be more or less self-sufficient. The Joy of TeX is still recommended reading because it provides background information that helps explain why some things are handled the way they are.


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