Formatting information

A beginner's introduction to typesetting with LATEX


Peter Flynn

Silmaril Consultants
Textual Therapy Division

v. 3.6 (March 2005)


  1. Installing TEX and LATEX
  2. Using your editor to create documents
  3. Basic document structures
  4. Typesetting, viewing and printing
  5. CTAN, packages, and online help
  6. Other document structures
  7. Textual tools
  8. Fonts and layouts
  9. Programmability (macros)
  10. Compatibility with other systems
  1. Configuring TEX search paths
  2. TEX Users Group membership
  3. The ASCII character set
  4. GNU Free Documentation License

This edition of Formatting Information was prompted by the generous help I have received from TEX users too numerous to mention individually. Shortly after TUGboat published the November 2003 edition, I was reminded by a spate of email of the fragility of documentation for a system like LATEX which is constantly under development. There have been revisions to packages; issues of new distributions, new tools, and new interfaces; new books and other new documents; corrections to my own errors; suggestions for rewording; and in one or two cases mild abuse for having omitted package X which the author felt to be indispensable to users. ¶ I am grateful as always to the people who sent me corrections and suggestions for improvement. Please keep them coming: only this way can this book reflect what people want to learn. The same limitation still applies, however: no mathematics, as there are already a dozen or more excellent books on the market — as well as other online documents — dealing with mathematical typesetting in TEX and LATEX in finer and better detail than I am capable of. ¶ The structure remains the same, but I have revised and rephrased a lot of material, especially in the earlier chapters where a new user cannot be expected yet to have acquired any depth of knowledge. Many of the screenshots have been updated, and most of the examples and code fragments have been retested. ¶ As I was finishing this edition, I was asked to review an article for The PracTEX Journal, which grew out of the Practical TEX Conference in 2004. The author specifically took the writers of documentation to task for failing to explain things more clearly, and as I read more, I found myself agreeing, and resolving to clear up some specific problems areas as far as possible. It is very difficult for people who write technical documentation to remember how they struggled to learn what has now become a familiar system. So much of what we do is second nature, and a lot of it actually has nothing to do with the software, but more with the way in which we view and approach information, and the general level of knowledge of computing. If I have obscured something by making unreasonable assumptions about your knowledge, please let me know so that I can correct it.

Peter Flynn is author of The HTML Handbook and Understanding SGML and XML Tools, and editor of The XML FAQ.


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Anon: Táin bó Cúailnge55Leabhar na h-Uidhri: The Book of the Dun Cow. Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 1100. [(2.1)]

Free Software Foundation: The GNU Free Documentation License. Free Software Foundation, Boston, MA,, 2003/02/10 23:42:49. [(UNKNOWN DIV)]

TEX Users Group: Getting Started with TEX, LATEX, and friends. TEX Users Group, Portland, OR,, November 2003. [(Introduction)]

Anderson, Chris (Ed.): WIRED. Condé Nast, San Francisco, CA, 1059-1028, 1993--. [(8.1)]

Beeton, Barbara (Ed.): TUGboat. TEX Users Group, Portland, OR, 0896-3207, Since 1980. [(Release Info)] [(Revision Info)] [(B)]

Berry, Karl: Fontname: Filenames for fonts. , Users Group, Portland, OR, June 2001. [(8.3.2)]

Bull, RJ: Accounting in Business. Butterworths, London, 1972, 0-406-70651-4. [(6.4)]

Burnard, Lou and Sperberg-McQueen, Michael: Guidelines for the Text Encoding Initiative. OUP, Oxford, 1995. [(6.2.5)]

Carnes, Lance and Berry, Karl (Eds.): The PracTEX Journal. TEX Users Group, Portland, OR,, 2004. [(UNKNOWN DIV)]

Davy, William: A System of Divinity. Published by the author, Lustleigh, Devon, 1806. [(7.1)]

Doob, Michael (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada): A Gentle Introduction to TEX: A Manual for Self-Study. TEX Users Group, Portland, OR, 2002, [(Introduction)]

Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary. , Paris, 1857. [(6)]

Flynn, Peter: The HTML Handbook. International Thompson Computer Press, London, 1-85032-205-8, 1995. [(UNKNOWN DIV)]

Flynn, Peter: The XML FAQ. University College Cork, Cork, Ireland,, January 2005. [(UNKNOWN DIV)]

Flynn, Peter: Understanding SGML and XML Tools. Kluwer, Boston, 0-7923-8169-6, 1998. [(UNKNOWN DIV)]

Fothergill, John: An Innkeeper's Diary. Penguin, London3rd, 1929. [(]

Goossens, Michel; Rahtz, Sebastian; and Mittelbach, Frank: The LATEX Graphics Companion. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 0-201-85469-4, 1997. [(Foreword)]

Goossens, Michel; Rahtz, Sebastian; Moore, Ross; and Sutor, Bob: The LATEX Web Companion. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 0-201-43311-7, 1999. [(Foreword)]

Goreham, Anthony: Re: Installing a new font: PFM, PFB‘comp.text.tex’. ,, (all pages), 28 November 2001.

Heller, Robert: New To LATEX...Unlearning Bad Habits‘comp.text.tex’. ,, (all pages), 11 March 2003. [(Preface)]

Jeffrey, Alan and McDonnell, Rowland: Font installation software for TEX. , Users Group, 30 June 1998.

Knuth, Donald E; Larrabee, Tracey; and Roberts, Paul M: Mathematical Writing. Mathematical Association of America, Washington, DCMAA Notes 14, 0-88385-063-X, 1989. [(Preface)]

Knuth, Donald Ervin: The Art of Computer Programming. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA2nd1, 0-201-89685-0, 1980. [(Preface)]

Lamport, Leslie: LATEX: A Document Preparation System. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 0-201-52983-12nd, 1994. [(Foreword)] [(3.6)] [(7.5)]

Mac Namara, Matthew: La Textualisation de Madame Bovary. Rodopi, Amsterdam, 2003. [(6)]

Mittelbach, Frank; Goossens, Michel; Braams, Johannes; Carlisle, David; and Rowley, Chris: The LATEX Companion. Addison-Wesley/Pearson Education, Boston, MA2, 0-201-36299-6, 2004. [(Foreword)] [(3.1)] [(6.5)] [(7.5)] [(8.1.1)] [(8.3.2)]

Oetiker, Tobias; Partl, Hubert; Hyna, Irene; and Schlegl, Elisabeth: The (Not So) Short Guide to LATEXε: in 131 Minutes. TEX Users Group,, 20013.2. [(Introduction)]

Pakin, Scott (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign): A comprehensive list of symbols in TEX. TEX Users Group,, 2002. [(Introduction)] [(9.6.1)]

Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan: Varmints‘Scribner's Magazine’. , 1936. [(2.1)]

Reckdahl, Keith: Using imported graphics in LATEXε. TEX Users Group,, 19972.0. [(Introduction)]

Ryder, John: Printing for Pleasure. Bodley Head, London, 0-370-10443-9, 1976. [(7.1)]

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