Notes on using LaTeX for processing documents.

What is LaTeX?

LaTeX is a typesetting programme.  Unlike WISIWIG wordprocessors such as Microsoft Word, text is written with a specific syntax that enables embedding figures, tables, equations and other document structures in plain text.  The overhead in learning how to use LaTeX is greater than that of a WISIWIG, however in the long run those students (or staff) who are writing reports with many equations, an MSc, or Ph.D. thesis could benefit from learning how to use this programme.

How do I get started?

The best way to learn how to use LaTeX is by example.  We have prepared an example report template that can be downloaded, compiled and edited to help you understand how a LaTeX document is put together and how one converts the latex file into a printable pdf document.  The files can be obtained from here:

[Note that if you are using pdflatex, you are not able to include eps files directly, and should convert the eps file into another format (for example a pdf, png, jpeg)].  Some of you might prefer to have a more detailed example.  To this end, we have also supplied a research paper LaTeX example.  The relevant files can be downloaded from here:

Once you have obtained an example file, the next step is to convert the source into a convinient format.  If you are using latex, then this will be a 2 step process: tex file → dvi file →ps or pdf file for printing.  If you are using pdflatex, then this will be a one step process from the tex file straight to a viewable or printable pdf file.

Where can I find more information?

There are a number of resources available in the library and on the web.  Obviously web searches are a convinient way to quickly locate information on specific LaTeX command usage syntax.  More general information can be found at the following URLs

In addition to these resources, the following books are useful references

  • LaTeX: A document preparation system, User's guide and reference manual Leslie Lamport 2nd edition, ISBN 0-201-52983-1
  • The LaTeX Graphics Companion, 2nd edition (TTCT series) Michel Goossens, Frank Mittelbach, Sebastian Rahtz, Denis Roegel, Herbert Voss, ISBN 978-0-321-50892-8


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The school holds Juno Champion status, the highest award of this IoP scheme to recognise and reward departments that can demonstrate they have taken action to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for both women and men.