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slartibartfasz
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Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 9:33 pm    Post subject: [HOWTO] LaTeX Quickstart Guide

LaTex Quickstart Guide

What is LaTeX? And what is it good for?
LaTeX is a macro package for TeX, which is a programming language for typesetting text. You can think of LaTeX as a markup language to turn text into high quality documents.

• the author provides a logical structure, and doesnt have to deal with details of how the output looks like
• it is excellent when typesetting formulas
• it is quite difficult to produce ugly documents
• it forces the user to think logical

• it forces the user to think logical
• it is not suited for design purposes
• it is not very well suited for producing a lot of complicated tables

The main difference between custom WYSIWYG word processing software (aka Microsoft Windows) and LaTeX is the strict separation of the look of a document and its content. In LaTeX the author provides a logical structure and the look is determined by a (predefined) style.

This has several advantages and a disadvantage (well matter of taste i guess ). When writing you can concentrate completely on the content and just using the default settings you will always get reasonably pretty documents. Moreover it is very easy to change the look of a finished document. The disadvantage is, that u can only see the final document after you ran it through the LaTeX processor.

The basic LaTeX file is just a text dokument (think: source code) which is run through the latex executable (think: compiler) to produce the final document.

How to Use It
For this very short guide i assume that you are using gentoo and already did:

 Code: emerge tetex emerge kile

Kile is a special LaTeX editor. You can of course use any text editor you like, but to wet your feet this is the quickest way. Before we jump right into our first document let me add a short note about productivity with whatever editor you choose: It pays to take the time to learn keyboard shortcuts for your editor/desktop. <F2><ALT-TAB><ALT-TAB> in kile on kde for example, compiles your document, lets you see the dvi file (if you opened it before in a dvi-viewer) and jumps back to kile again. This can become very fast. (thx odegard for pointing this out)

A basic LaTeX document consists of two main parts. The header (also called preamble):

 Code: \documentclass{report} \usepackage{graphicx}

and the body:

 Code: \begin{document} \author{I. M. Foo} \title{My very first LaTeX document} \maketitle \tableofcontents \chapter{Basics} This is the first paragraph in the first chapter. The title of this chapter is \emph{Basic}. \end{document}

The header is where you can tell LaTeX what type of document you want to make. Typical choices include report, article, letter and so on. In addition to that you can provide some layout options like for example '\documentclass[a4paper,11pt,oneside]{report}' which will tell LaTeX to layout your text for A4 paper size, 11pt font size and onesided. There are a lot more options to discover - read on!

Besides the documentclass you can specify some special packages in the header, much like using a library in a programming language. In our example we included the graphicx package, which provides support for adding (e)ps figures to your document. When working with pdftex you can use png or jpg but unfortunately no eps pictures with this package. This is not a big problem though, because you can convert pictures from eps to pdf with a tool called epstopdf which comes with your latex distribution. If u want to change to pdflatex entirely, you can simply add \usepacke{epstopdf} in your preamble and pdftex will create the missing files for you.

The body holds the content of your document. In the example some important features can be seen. Every command starts with a backslash. The scope of most commands is everything that is inside the immediatly following curly brackets. In our example - Basics is the argument to the \title command.

We can also see two commands without arguments \tableofcontents and \maketitle. The latter takes the information of \author and \title and prints it neatly on the first page of your document. The size, font, spacing, page setup, ... for the title page is completely automatic. The former includes - surprise - the table of contents.

To see the output of this example put the code into kile, save the document and press <F2>. This will run your code through the latex executable and compile a dvi file, which u can view by klicking on the bear icon.

You will notice, that your document already has three pages. A neat title page, containing the author, title and date, the table of contents page and the page where the first chapter begins. Everything neatly typeset.

One thing is missing tough: the table of contents is empty - this is because LaTeX needs to read the whole document in sequence to know on which page a chapter begins. If you press <F2> a second time and look at the dvi file again, you will see that the first chapter with correct page and chapter numbering appears.

What you have just done is the basic LaTex working cycle: write code, compile, debug...da capo - i bet most of you guys know that better than i do

Instead of walking you through all the basics - and being as reduntant as possible, i want to point you to some documents you should read. As you already have tetex installed as we agreed above, just take a look at the following documents on your harddisk:

 Code: /usr/share/texmf/doc/latex/general/essential.dvi /usr/share/texmf/doc/latex/general/l2kurz.dvi

The first is for english, the second for german users. For answers to some common questions point your browser to /usr/share/texmf/doc/help/faq/index.html.

Tips, Tricks & Useful Packages
The following assumes that you have read the short LaTeX instructions i pointed out above.

Common LaTeX Editors
The two most often used editors in LaTeX are emacs and vim. Though i'm not comfortable with emacs i know that a special extension for LaTeX exists. Search for emacs on CTAN or take a look at the AUCTex homepage. Likewise there are some vim enhacements for LaTeX which can be found on the homepage of the vim-latex project and on http://www.vim.org.

Other common editors are Lyx (closest ti WYSIWYG) and Kile. For sake of simplicity i assume that you use Kile for this Quickstart guide.

Packages & tetex
Unfortunately a lot of packages that come with tetex are outdated (thx to aja who pointed this out to me). To update any packages, got to CTAN download the tarball and unpack it to /usr/share/texmf/source/<packagename>. Change to the directory and
 Code: latex .ins latex .drv latex .drv

Then remove everything in /usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/<packagename> and /usr/share/texmf/doc/latex/<packagename> and copy all .sty and .cfg files to the former, all .pdf, .dvi and .tex files to the latter directory. now run
 Code: mktexlsr
and the new package is installed. This procedure works for most packages, difference are covered in the README that comes with the package.

Typesetting Beautiful Tables
It is a matter of taste, how tables should be typeset, but in my humble opinion, tables using the booktabs package look best. This small package comes with three commands and some advice.

The advice is never use vertical rules in tables. The commands are \toprule, \midrule and \bottomrule. and are used like this:
 Code: \begin{tabular}{@{}ccc@{}} \toprule row one & second column & third column \\ \midrule row two & second column & third column \\ \bottomrule \end{tabular}

Other packages that enhance table printing are tabularx and longtable

Writing Units
Everyone who uses a lot of units in his text will find the SIunits package useful. It provides SI conform typesetting like '\watt\per\meter\usk\kelvin' in normal text and math mode with proper spaces between figure and unit.

Making a Nomenclature
When you are using a lot of math and symbols, the nomencl package provides a convenient way to produce a nomenclature (glossary) automatically. Consider the following:
 Code: v = \frac{s}{t} \nomencl{v}{velocity [\meter\per\second]} \nomencl{s}{space [\meter]} \nomencl{t}{time [\second]} % more text % where u want the nomenclature to appear: \printglossary

This will produce a neat nomenclature. If you want to you can also refer to the equation and page of the equation by adding \refeq and \refeqpage at the approriate places. Attention: This example needs some more steps to work, please refer to the package documentation, or tell me if i should provide more details here.

Making a Bibliography
For doing this, i recommend the natbib package. Basically you save your bibliography information in a special .bib file and use the following commands in your LaTeX file:
 Code: As stated by \citet{todd}, the velocity of .... \citep{foo} %more text % the style to print your bibliography \bibliographystyle{plainnat} % the file with your bibliogrphy items \bibliography{../bibliography}

If you now run your document through LaTeX, then BibTeX (<F11> in Kile) and then LaTeX again to get all references right it will produce the following output:
 Code: As stated by Ben Todd [1], the velocity of .... [2]

And your document will have a properly sorted bibliography section pretty printed according to your bibliographystyle.

To include hyperlinks, most people use the hyperref package. To see it in action just put
 Code: \usepackage{hyperref}

To include hyperlinks in a pdf, add the following option to the hyperref call:
 Code: \usepackage[dvipdfm]{hyperref}

For details on the many options of this package see the package documentation.

Producing PDF Files
There are several ways of producing PDF out of dvi files. The one i'd like to cover here involves dvipdfm (see above). As soon as you have your dvi file just run
 Code: dvipdfm
to get it in the pdf format.

Another way to achieve this, is using pdflatex - a special flavor of LaTeX for producing pdf (thx clockwise and hans-peter). It can be invoked directly in Kyle be choosing the appropriate compile command. If you include figures in your document you have to provide them in the pdf format in this case. If you want dvi and pdf output with pdflatex you can include all pictures without extension in your sourcecode and the compiler will chose the eps or pdf version of the picture respectively.

Which one of those methods you chose is up to you. If you cant get something to work, try the other method.

A Different Style
When you are tired of the standard style and are looking for something with a fresher look, you could try to use the koma-script package. Its original purpose was to introduce some european, (in order not to say german ) stilistic differences, especially the use of the DIN A4 paper format. Meanwhile it evolved into a full featured alternative style that provides a different way of using the printable paper area. For a quick look, just change \documentclass{report} to \documentclass{scrreprt}. For more options look at /usr/share/texmf/doc/latex/koma-script. A lot of english speaking people use the memoir class for the same reasons. This package is not included in the standard tetex installation, but as all other packages it can be downloaded from CTAN.

Different Languages
LaTeX has good support for writing in different languages. For using non ascii characters directly from your keybord (german umlauts for example) just add \usepackage[<encoding>]{inputenc} to your document header. For informations regarding the possible encodings take a look at /usr/share/texmf/doc/latex/base/inputenc.dvi. The package babel provides support for dozens of languages from afrikaans to welsh. If u want support for languages like arabic or chinese you might want to look at the omega package. As i dont have experience with this, i wont dig deeper here.

Typesetting Sourcecode
Although there are some more ways to do it, i'd like to encourage you to take a look at the listings package. It is the most feature rich of the possible packets and 100% LaTeX native. Other possibilities inlcude lgrind and a2ps, which can be found on CTAN and portage respectively.

For a quick way to test the listings packet you can try:
 Code: \usepackage{listings} \begin{document} % text \lstinputlisting[language=perl,breaklines]{../scripts/example.pl}

Which will typeset the perl script example.pl in your document. There are a lot of programming languages available and the layout is completely customizable. As always refer to the package documentation for details.

Changing The Font
If you want to change the font you have to be careful not to break the layout of your document. It is important that you use the same font with its apporpiate styles (sans serif, caps, italic) thoroughout your whole document. You could of course specify the font seperatly as covered in the essential guides, but a better way is do this via packages. You could try the following:
 Code: \usepackage{cmbright} %\usepackage{concrete} %\usepackage{pandora} %\usepackage{palatino} %\usepackage{ae} %\usepackage{pxfonts} %\usepackage{txfonts}

Uncomment one of these packages a time, recompile your document and look at the output. Make sure that you also look at the fonts that are used in special environments like equations. Attention: not all of these fonts can be converted into pdf properly. Some appear jagged on the screen although thy print perfectly - you may need to change the font if this problem arises.

Another thing to be aware of when using these fonts is the corresponding math font. AFAIK only cmbright provides the matching font for mathematical environments.

Alternatives include:
 Code: \usepackage{mathptmx} % Times as body and math font \usepackage{mathpazo} % Palatino as body font, Euler as math font

Listing Figures And Tables
This is as easy as it can get:
 Code: \listoffigures \listoftables
 Code: \usepackage{nomencl} \makeglossary % your document \cleardoublepage \addcontentsline{toc}{chapter}{Index of Symbols} \stepcounter{chapter} \printglossary

This will add a line to your table of contents \addcontentsline after processing all floating objects and setting the pagecounter to the actual page (\cleardoublepage). Then the chapter counter is increased by one and finally the glossary is printed.

Running LaTeX Repeatedly
If you use indexes, glossaries, bibliographies and the like, it is often necessary to run LaTeX not only once, but several times (max. 4 usually). To do this automatically there is a nice little perl script available at this side. latexmk watches all files that are involved with your document and reads the messages to find out how often your document needs to be processed. This becomes especially handy in the last stages of editing your document, because latexmk has a mode where it watches your document, runs latex repeatedly until all references are resolved and lets you watch the resulting file in a viewer of your choice - all by simply saving your document. People who use advanced editors like vim and emacs for example will appreceate this, because the editing cycle becomes very fast this way and the hands never have to leave the keyboard. (Just imagine this on a xinerama - two monitor system ) (thx to Hans-Peter for this tip)

A lot of people have written very clever things about, in and with LaTeX - the text above was written, trying to be as un-reduntant as possible, but the foundation of it can be found when following the links presented here. (Standing on the shoulders of giants )

Thats all - happy TeXing

Although there are quite some more tips on LaTeX i decided that for a mere posting this is enough. If you want, i can continue this (additional tips, example files, ...) on another basis - gentoo docs perhaps, but i wont do so unless there is need for it.

If you feel that something is missing, or you spot an error, please tell me.

_________________
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Last edited by slartibartfasz on Tue Jul 06, 2004 6:48 pm; edited 17 times in total
smokeslikeapoet
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 Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 8:27 am    Post subject: I've been coached to learn latex for a long time from a mentor of mine. He doesn't have time to teach me himself and this is the guide I've been looking for a while. I can't wait to see the rest of it. Thanks. BTW, are there any GTK editors you would suggest for editing latex docs?_________________-SmokesLikeaPoet Folding@Home
slartibartfasz
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 Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 10:56 am    Post subject: unfortunately i dont know any good GTK editors, but a lot of people like to use vim - there are a lot of macros specifically for latex... i guess emacs provides a latex toolbox too..._________________To an engineer the glass is neither half full, nor half empty - it is just twice as big as it needs to be.
AgenT
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 Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 4:46 pm    Post subject: Thank you for the guide. Will be useful when I need to use LaTeX for the first time. One quick question. Seeing as LaTeX is a markup language, does that make it language (and character set) unbiased? If not, is there support for many languages that do not use the English alphabet? For example, would I have to do anything extra to have my text file written in Russian or Greek be "marked up" by LaTeX?
Elm0
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 Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 6:39 pm    Post subject: An excellent beginners guide, thankyou. I currently use Kile, which is a Latex editor in the same vane as Quanta is for HTML under KDE. Eases you into things a bit without hiding the underlying code your creating, and then when you truly understand it provides a nice enviroment to work in.
slartibartfasz
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 Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 6:45 pm    Post subject: @AgenT: forgot that - thx for reminding me - i will add a section about non ascii encoding..._________________To an engineer the glass is neither half full, nor half empty - it is just twice as big as it needs to be.
pilla

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 Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 7:02 pm    Post subject: just FYI, I've posted a link to this thread in our local TeX User Group list, and there is already a good feedback about it. Keep it going on._________________"I'm just very selective about the reality I choose to accept." -- Calvin
Disquiet
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 Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 8:18 pm    Post subject: You can also convert it to html (latex2html) Also why is making the user think logical a disadvantage? I'd have thought that was a good thing ?
slartibartfasz
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Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 8:43 pm    Post subject:

 Bloody Bastard wrote: just FYI, I've posted a link to this thread in our local TeX User Group list, and there is already a good feedback about it. Keep it going on.

so much publicity...

 Disquiet wrote: You can also convert it to html (latex2html) Also why is making the user think logical a disadvantage? I'd have thought that was a good thing ?

1) yes - and to some others too. see:
http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/support/
http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/help/wp-conv/

2) as everything in life, also logic and creativity need to be balanced - u can carry everything too far - just think of star trek and pointed ears
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cleber
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 Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 11:14 pm    Post subject: I used to edit TeX in emacs, but using tools like kile or mictex is sure a help. What other options for TeX editting you guys use?_________________Saru mo ki kara ochiru - Japanese proverb. Cleber Mori Home Page: http://www.2ks.com.br
odegard
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slartibartfasz
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Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 6:27 am    Post subject:

 odegard wrote: I just did my master thesis in latex using pico (but somehow using pico is not 1337, bah). Anyway, I had two xterms open, one big editing the file and one small running latex thesis.tex and the xdvi thesis.dvi. My rythm would be like this: edit text ctrl-o (save) alt-tab (change window) arrow-up+arrow-up+enter (compile, two commands back in history) arrow-up+arrow-up+enter (xdvi, two commands back in history) alt-f4 (to close xdvi) alt-tab edit text etc. etc. etc. This is really fast when you get the hang of it.

 Quote: Anyway. I'd like to add something about tables. I use a hacked deluxetable style-file and these tables really look good and it is easy to do heavy customizations. If you're unfamiliar about deluxetable, I can write a short introduction and find a link to the required file.

go on - i never used deluxtables - if u write something i'll include it above...

 Quote: Lastly, there is a sentence in the section about producing pdf files that belong to the section about hyperlinks.

changed it - thx

 Quote: If I may come with a suggestion: I think you should mention something about different documentclasses and perhaps be more specific about how the document is structured as in 1st you have dicument-type, then the preamble (commands and stuff) and the then document-part. You've mentioned this already but I think it's not clear.

u are right - i added some more explanation there... thx
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BumptiousBob
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 Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 3:19 pm    Post subject: Another resource for those wanting to learn more is the "Not so short introduction to latex" which can be found at: http://www.ctan.org/ctan/tex-archive/info/lshort/ I printed this when I first started playing with latex and haven't used anything else since.
gwion
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 Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 4:39 pm    Post subject: hey, thanks very much for this introduction... i inquired about pdfs and i got an introduction to a very powerful system for creating documents... i am not joking... many thanks for that... after a little trying it starts to become convenient so quickly... could easily be that i stick with latex for quit a while... *thumbsup* cheers, gwion_________________But the best thing about being an older goth? The fact that no one tries to tell you "It's a phase!" anymore. -- gwion@jabber.org
slartibartfasz
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Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 9:15 pm    Post subject:

 BumptiousBob wrote: Another resource for those wanting to learn more is the "Not so short introduction to latex" which can be found at: http://www.ctan.org/ctan/tex-archive/info/lshort/ I printed this when I first started playing with latex and haven't used anything else since.

thats a nice one for a reference - i just felt that it would be too much for a quickstart guide, therefore i just listed essentials.dvi and its german pendant l2kurz.dvi

 gwion wrote: hey, thanks very much for this introduction... i inquired about pdfs and i got an introduction to a very powerful system for creating documents... i am not joking... many thanks for that... after a little trying it starts to become convenient so quickly... could easily be that i stick with latex for quit a while... *thumbsup*

no problem - its a pleasure for me - though it feels a bit akward to write this, because a friend of mine considers me as a tex beginner...well the same guy uses the english keyboard layout on his german keybord, because he is faster in vi
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Ox-
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 Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2003 6:26 am    Post subject: There may be more, but I know of 2 (la)tex editors in portage: texmacs and lyx. Just loading them quickly it looks like lyx might be a little better, but I don't have any real experience with either.
clockwise
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 Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:32 am    Post subject: just a few extra things i've picked up... i use pdflatex for creating pdf's. it generates them straight from the .tex source rather than going through a dvi. i often found that dvipdf conversions look hideous if you send them to someone using windows. lyx is a a good latex editor, may even be gtk (though i stick to vim, myself.) does anyone know a good sans-style font for latex and how i could use it? i've been putting \begin{sffamily} ... \end{sffamily} in my documents, which gives me a style i like, but doesn't affect page numbers and other odd bits._________________"if an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared." - niccolò machiavelli
slartibartfasz
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 Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2003 11:52 am    Post subject: thx ox and clockwise - i changed the appropriate sections... clockwise i added a section about changing the font ..._________________To an engineer the glass is neither half full, nor half empty - it is just twice as big as it needs to be.
arand
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 Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2003 1:56 pm    Post subject: This is a good intro. I wil be looking into this more as I begin to work with latex more. One question for people who have experience with this. I will be inserting alot of images primarly jpeg and png. How should I deal with this? I know that for normal latex it will only except eps files, while latex2pdf (spelling?) will except the png or jpeg. I was thinking of putting all the images into one folder and running mogrify to convert all the pictures to .eps files and use them in latex. Thanks again for the intro.
clockwise
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Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2003 3:15 pm    Post subject:

thanks for the font help, makes my documents so much more consistent.

a for graphics...

i put all my images as .jpg's into a subdirectory which i tend to call "img", put the name is arbitrary. one thing i've noticed though (at least for me), you can only insert .pdf's into a .pdf document and only .ps's into a .ps document. of course, if anyone knows a way around this then i would be interested.

so the code...
 Code: %% import package \usepackage{graphicx} %% optionally set the image directory \graphicspath{{./img/}} \begin{document} . . . %% insert the figure \begin{figure}[ht]   %% centre it   \begin{center}     %% scale if needed     \scalebox{1}{       %% insert the image, no extension needed       \includegraphics{domes}     }     \caption{Paul Klee, Rote und wei\ss e Kuppeln''(\emph{Red and White Domes}), 1914}   \end{center} \end{figure} . . . \end{document}

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slartibartfasz
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 Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 10:19 am    Post subject: i am not aware of a way to include jpg directly - usually i convert pictures using tools from gs and imagemagick - some special tools for converting graphics can also be found on ctan... one thing u might try to convert jpg on the fly can be found here, but it never tested this - according to the example u can include graphics from compressed archives by making a system call - on the first look, i dont see a reason why the system call shouldnt go to convert isntead of bzip... hope that helps..._________________To an engineer the glass is neither half full, nor half empty - it is just twice as big as it needs to be.
clockwise
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 Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 10:46 am    Post subject: just thinking... i exlusively use pdflatex, i have a feeling that it can handle .jpg's and latex cannot.... however, that coed definitely works for inserting .jpg's directly into .pdf files. no conversion needed._________________"if an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared." - niccolò machiavelli
Malice
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 Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 1:57 pm    Post subject: Can make Power Point like presentations too Since this thread seems to have gained a slightly Latex evangilistic spin, I thought I should swing in, and spin it some more. I use Latex for everything including making Power Point like presentations. Using a latex package/preprocessor combo called PPower4 - http://www-sp.iti.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/software/ppower4/ (there is another one called TexPower that I am going to look at sometime - http://texpower.sourceforge.net/ ) I can write a lecture or whatever in Latex, and generate a whizzy PDF document with transitions and semi-animated diagrams. PPower4 is a Java app BTW. The fancier PDF transitions are kinda slow and clunky, so I stick to the simple ones. Also I think you are pretty much limited to the Adobe viewer (there is a linux version), since it implements all of the PDF standard. Also, I prefer JEdit for hacking Latex source. Does the job nicely. For those considering Latex - go for it. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but you will soon be laughing at all the people bitching about how MS Word keeps reformating their documents for them and eating their figures. Nice howto by the way. Wish I come across something like this when I was teaching myself Latex.
slartibartfasz
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 Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 3:19 pm    Post subject: thats a great tip, Malice, thx _________________To an engineer the glass is neither half full, nor half empty - it is just twice as big as it needs to be.
Malice
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Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2003 1:57 am    Post subject:

 slartibartfasz wrote: thats a great tip, Malice, thx

No problem.

If anyone needs a hand sorting out a Latex/PPower4 presentation then let me know (PM). I have a Makefile that I use that has been evolving over the last couple of months, and does the job nicely.

It generates a PDF with fancy colours and diagrams for presentations, and plain black and white for printed versions (which can be slide per page, or however many slides per page you want).

PDF presentations = platform independant presentations (assuming the platform has the Acrobat reader available - which most of them do) which has to be a good thing .
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