( McCann )
Last Revision: August 2017
In the 1980s Computer Science professor Donald Knuth created a
low-level document formatting package that he named TeX. The letters
are supposed to be the Greek letters tau, epsilon, and chi, which is
why "TeX" is pronounced "tech."
To make TeX easier to use, another computer scientist, Leslie Lamport,
wrote a group of TeX macros and called the combination LaTeX (pronounced
"LAH-tech" or "LAY-tech," but never "LAY-techs"). The current
version is 2e, and has been the current version since 1994. LaTeX
allows authors to create documents much like
web page designers can create web pages in HTML: LaTeX is essentially
a mark-up language. It is definitely not a word processor.
Why learn LaTeX? In the sciences and engineering fields, many
conference papers and journal articles are created using LaTeX. It was
created to construct documents that include complex mathematical
expressions that are often difficult to create using ordinary word
- Sample LaTeX Files:
- My Examples:
- To encourage CSc 245 students to give LaTeX a try for
formatting homework assignments, I created
Its leading comments introduce pdflatex for formatting,
it has examples that show
how to format of a variety of typical 245 homework answers,
and it even shows how to import images into your document.
to the formatted PDF version
should allow you to see how to format most of your answers.
To format the PDF yourself, you'll need the image file:
- An earlier example I created is
It demonstrates a some
of the basics. Instructions for typesetting the document
using the UNIX programs latex, dvips,
and ps2pdf can be found in the comments at the head
of the file. If you'd like to see the resulting document,
here it is as a PDF file.
- One of the best free references is
The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX 2e.
The subtitle used to be "Or LaTeX 2e in 87 minutes,"
but I see that it's now
139 174 157 minutes.
This matches the number of pages, so ... read fast!
- Another good basic reference is the
- The web pages of the
TeX Users Group (TUG)
have lots of TeX- and LaTeX-related information.
- Some of the many TeX and LaTeX tutorials:
- Rather than list a bunch, here's TUG's page titled
Books about TeX and Friends.
I use my 1999 third edition copy of Kopka and Daly's book all
the time. (The latest edition is the 4th, but LaTeX doesn't
change much; I haven't had a reason to upgrade.)
- I haven't installed a TeX/LaTeX package in a long time, but I used
for various versions of Windows and was happy with it.
- A variation of MiKTeX is TUG's
- The cross-platform
package is available for Windows.
- Mac OS X
is a version of TeX Live tailored for Mac OS X.
- UNIX / Linux
- If you use Linux, most distributions come standard with a version
of TeX and LaTeX. If yours doesn't have it, there's almost
certainly a downloadable package available for your distribution.
- TeX Live
package is available for most Unix-like OSes.
Do you have a comment on this page? I'd like to hear it; you can email me at