Wednesday, January 17, 2007


[Editor's Note] This is old material imported from my now-defunct Wiki

Here's where things about LaTeX get discussed. I'll have you know that WikiWords kind of drive me nuts and the title of this page should give you a hint why.

The single best hint I can give anyone using LaTeX is to bookmark /usr/share/texmf/doc/index.html. (This is assuming a standard teTeX installation (including the package tetex-doc) on Red Hat Linux or Ubuntu. On Mac OS X, fink installs the docs in /sw/share/texmf-dist/doc.) For some reason, it took me several years to discover this documentation and it has almost totally replaced the Lamport and Goossens books for everyday reference. One problem with the books (especially the graphics book) is that they are out of date and some of the key packages documented have changed. The online documentation is also out of date, but not quite so much. The documentation is mostly in DVI format, so you will have to have a working DVI viewer (e.g., xdvi) or convert them to PS/PDF.

UPDATE: I recently acquired the 2nd edition of the companion book and it is really great. It answers a lot of the questions I wanted to cover on this page, particularly about fonts!

pdfLaTeX and letter paper

On many systems, pdfLaTeX defaults to A4 output, even with the letterpaper option to the article class. The simplest solution: add \usepackage{hyperref} to your preamble. hyperref sets the right paper size for PDF output (as if by magic). Thanks for this tip goes to Oliver Haynold at Northwestern University.

NOTE: The tip works, but I'd like more info on root causes.

Future Work

Some things I'd like to put here:

  • A definitive discussion of Type 1 fonts, etc. What is the difference between "\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}" and "\usepackage{times}" (and the like)? What is the purpose of "dvips -P cmz" or "dvips -P pdf"?
  • How to fix the braces in alltt without breaking math mode.
  • Tips for dealing with pstricks, .eps files, and positioning graphics.
  • Paper sizes... or, why can't letter and A4 get along?
  • Prosper, HA-Prosper, slideware, ugh...

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