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Getting to Grips with LaTeX

Here are some tutorials I have written for getting up to speed with this excellent document processing system. Funnily enough I wouldn't consider myself an expert, per se, but I'm learning all the time. I recall finding it quite taxing when I started to learn LaTeX, which is why I have started these tutorials. However, I hope that my experience plays to your advantage because I cover sort of questions and problems I had when I first learning LaTeX which are probably typical for most beginners.


LaTeX pre-dates modern graphical word processors, if not modern graphical operating systems! How can something so archaic be any good? Well it turns out it was well designed and ahead of its time, which is why it's still popular today. First and foremost the quality of the documents is far superior to word processors. The separation of content and style is in fact quite liberating and makes for simpler writing: you can concentrate on content. And for large documents with lots of cross-references, bibliographies/citations and figures, you'll wonder how you ever put up with word processors!

For a more detailed account, see my article regarding the numerous advantages.


# Name Description
1 Absolute Beginners Just when you thought Hello World! was only for programming languages. This tutorial walks through just about the most basic document LaTeX could produce: just a single page with those famous words. This should give you an idea of the bare bones of a LaTeX source document, and also instructs on how to use the software, as well as converting output to PS and PDF.
2 Document Structure With Hello World! under your belt, it's time to get on with more practical documents. This tutorial creates a basic article, similar in style to a research paper. There is a strong focus on document structure. A few extras are also covered, including lists, tables and bibliographies.
3 Bibliographies Although introduced in the previous tutorial, there is much more on offer. This tutorial will delve in to using BibTeX to manage your references as an external file. How to customise you bibliography using style files and quick look at the Natbib package for a more flexible system of citations, including the Harvard and numerical systems.
4 Tables Tables are common in many documents. Tables can be tricky in LaTeX, which is why it's important to get some practice - so follow this tutorial to help you understand the most useful aspects of LaTeX's table functions.
5 Importing Images A picture speaks a thousand words, and all that. So, if you need to add them to your documents, then this tutorial will show you how. Includes help on converting your images to EPS, the format that LaTeX requires; how to import; and some useful effects on your images that can be achieved from within LaTeX.
6 Floats, Figures and Captions Following on from the previous two tutorials, the concept of floats is introduced. They allow you to add captions to your tables and images. They also permit better page layout. This tutorial also covers how to wrap text around floats. Figures within figures and even creating your own float types.
7 Formatting A broad topic, mainly focussed on formatting of text (font styles, size etc); accents; symbols; Paragraph formatting (justification, line spacing, special paragraph styles). List structures and how to customize; Footnotes and margin notes. And some other extra bits!
8 Page Layout This tutorial shows you how to gain more control of the page layout. How to select page orientation; change margin sizes; have multiple columns; customise headers/footers; use manual formatting.
9 Mathematics - Part I This tutorial covers the basics of using the math mode to nicely output your maths. Covers maths environments, symbols, fractions, exponents, roots, matrices, etc.
10 Mathematics - Part II Expanding on the material from the previous tutorial, more advanced topics are introduced. These include equation alignment environments, customising spacing, etc.
11 PDFs This tutorial will focus solely on creating PDFs and utilising PDF-specific features. (NB, it's still in draft form. Still some rough edges to smooth out.)
12 Tables of Contents For large documents you will may require tables of contents. LaTeX provides all the necessary commands to produce this content and this tutorial gives you an overview of them.