Learning Latex

I have an interest in $\LaTeX\ $ high-quality typesetting system, and have been attempting to learn it for some time. A snippet from their page explains:

LaTeX is a high-quality typesetting system; it includes features designed for the production of technical and scientific documentation. LaTeX is the de facto standard for the communication and publication of scientific documents. LaTeX is available as free software.

$\LaTeX\ $ takes input and produces precisely formatted documents. It is not intended to be a a content editor and is most powerful as a PDF document generator. The learning curve on $\LaTeX\ $ is high in my opinion, and a challenge if you want to do anything but the most standard of documents. There exist many templates to create various types of documents but if you want to create your own it is quite the endeavor.

The book I am reading on the subject is: The TeXbook by Donald E. Knuth, which so far seems like a good resource, and it was published in 1984 which is one of the earliest books on the subject. This book speaks about the low levels of TeX, which clarifies some aspects of $\LaTeX\ $ that were unclear to me.

There are two methods to jump into $\LaTeX\ $ that I am aware of are:

  1. online $\LaTeX\ $ IDE
  2. local installation

The online $\LaTeX\ $ IDE is the quickest and simplest way to dip your toe into $\LaTeX\ $. I have played with sharelatex.com, which was quite simple. There are templates which will really launch you quickly.

The local installation is my current preferred way to deal with $\LaTeX\ $. It increased complexity quite a bit, but once it is working, you have much more control over the environment, and could even deploy applications that consume input and create precisely formatted documents. For my current installation I have three packages installed:

  • texlive-6
  • texlive-latex-6
  • texlive-scheme-full-6

Installing texlive-scheme-full-6 is a commitment because it is a few GB of space, however I will gladly trade space for ease of use.

Here is a simple $\LaTeX\ $ snippet:

\documentclass{article}
\begin{document}
This is as simple document, with one line of content.
\end{document}
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