Introduction to TeX
- Q: What is TeX?
A: It's a Markup Language, with a slightly tedious, moderately ugly,
but very precise, flexible and customizable plain text source format (the
file will be, for example,
web-pretty) that must be run through a program (or programs) to produce
output in a binary form (such as hello_world.dvi and/or
hello_world.pdf) which can be printed
or viewed on a screen with an appropriate program.
- The process, in the *nix world:
- download, using your favorite package manager, texlive-base
and whatever other TeX-related packages (maybe some nice
fonts?) you want.
- create, in an editor (not a word-processor!), myfile.tex
- do latex myfile.tex, producing
- do latex myfile.tex again (if there are any
- preview the DVI file with xdvi myfile[.dvi]
- make a PostScript version with dvips -o myfile.ps myfile,
- make a PDF version with ps2pdf myfile.ps, producing
- create myfile.tex
- do latex myfile.tex if there are any cross-references
- do pdflatex myfile.tex, producing
without the .dvi and .ps versions. [Faster, yes, but
doesn't work as well if you want to incorporate image files into your
- The process, in the Mac world:
- largely similar to the above (Macs are *nix under the hood)
although it will be more point-and-click-y and you will have to
sign a 337 page EULA which gives Apple first dibs on your internal
organs during the next Transit of Venus.
- The process, in the Windoze world:
- Two common (and free) choices are
You probably already have what you need to view PDF files,
Adobe Reader. But if not, it can be found (for free) at
Follow the corresponding installation and usage instructions.
- The process, in an operating-system independent way:
- Go to www.sharelatex.com and follow
the directions there.
This is an entirely web-based ("in the cloud" would be the fashionable
way of saying that) system, so you don't have to install anything and
you have access to your writings wherever you are ... if you have
Internet access. The downsides are exactly those: someone else is keeping
your work (do you trust them?), and it's only useable if you have
Looking over the source file hw1.tex
(web-pretty version hw1.tex) and
its corresponding PDF hw1.pdf.
- Search engines are your friends, but here are some example resources: