Introduction
This isasetofFrequentlyAskedQuestions(FAQ)forEnglish-speakingusersofTeX.
Thequestionsansweredhere coverawiderangeof topics,buttypesettingissues are
mostlycoveredfromtheviewpointofa LaTeXuser. Someofthe questions answered
havelittlerelevance totoday’s users;this is inevitable— it’seasiertoaddinformation
thanitistodecidethatinformationisnolonger needed. Thesetof answeredquestions
isthereforeinastateof slowflux: newquestionsareanswered, while oldquestions are
deleted... butthewhole process depends onthetimeavailableforFAQmaintenance.
Youmayuse theFAQ
• byreadingaprinteddocument,
• byviewingaPDFfile,withhyperlinkstoassistbrowsing: copiesareavailable
formattedsothattheycouldbeprintedonA4paperor onNorthAmerican“letter”
paper,
• byusingtheFAQ’swebinterface(baseURL:
http://www.tex.ac.uk/faq
);this
versionprovidessimplesearchcapabilities, aswellas alinktoGoogleforamore
sophisticatedsearchrestrictedtotheFAQitself, or
• viaScottPakin’sVisualFAQ,whichshowsLaTeXconstructionswithlinkstoFAQ
explanations ofhowtheymaybecreated.
Licence of the FAQ
Thesourceof theFAQ,availableintheFAQ’sCTANdirectory,anditsderivedrepresen-
tations(currently, the HTML foundat
http://www.tex.ac.uk/faq
andPDFcopies,
alsointheFAQ’sCTANdirectory)areallplacedinthe publicdomain.
Finding the Files
Unless otherwisespecified, allfilesmentionedinthis FAQareavailablefroma CTAN
archive, orfromamirrorofCTAN—seelaterdiscussion oftheCTANarchives and
howtoretrievefiles from them.
Thereadershouldalsonotethatthe firstdirectoryname ofthepathnameofevery
fileonCTAN isomittedfromwhatfollows, forthesimplereasonthat,whileit’s always
thesame (
tex-archive/
)onthemainsites, mirrorsitesoftenchoosesomethingelse.
Toavoidconfusion, wealsoomitthefullstopfromtheendofanysentence whose
lastitemisapathname(suchsentencesarerare,andonlyoccurattheendofparagraphs).
Though the path names are set in a different font from running text, it’s not easy to
distinguishthe fontofasingledot!
Origins
The FAQwasoriginatedbytheCommitteeof theUKTeXUsers’Group(UKTUG),in
1994, asadevelopmentofaregularpostingtothe Usenetnewsgroup
comp.text.tex
thatwas maintainedforsome timebyBobbyBodenheimer. ThefirstUKversionwas
muchre-arranged and correctedfromthe original, and little ofBodenheimer’s work
nowremains.
The followingpeople(at least— there are almostcertainly others whose names
weren’tcorrectlyrecorded)havecontributedhelporadviceonthedevelopmentofthe
FAQ:William Adams,DonaldArseneau,RosemaryBailey, BarbaraBeeton, KarlBerry,
GiuseppeBilotta,Charles Cameron,François Charette, DamianCugley, MartinGarrod,
MichaelDewey,MichaelDownes,Jean-PierreDrucbert,DavidEpstein, MichaelErnst,
ThomasEsser,UlrikeFischer,BrunoLeFloch, AnthonyGoreham, NormanGray, En-
ricoGregorio, WernerGrundlingh, EitanGurari, William Hammond, JohnHammond,
JohnHarper, GernotHassenpflug, TroyHenderson,HartmutHenkel,StephanHennig,
JohnHobby,MortenHøgholm, BertholdHorn, IanHutchinson,Werner Icking,William
Ingram,DavidJansen, AlanJeffrey,RegnorJernsletten,DavidKastrup,OlegKatsitadze,
IsaacKhabaza, UlrichKlauer,MarkusKohm, StefanKottwitzDavidKraus,Ryszard
Kubiak, SimonLaw, Uwe Lück, DanielLuecking, AdityaMahajan, SanjoyMahajan,
Diego Andres Alvarez Marin, Andreas Matthias, SteveMayer, Javier Mora, Brooks
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Moses, PeterMoulder, IainMurray, VilarCamara Neto, DickNickalls, TedNieland,
Hans Nordhaug, PatRau,HeikoOberdiek, PietvanOostrum,ScottPakin, OrenPatash-
nik, Manuel Pégourié-Gonnard, StevePeter, SebastianRahtz, PhilipRatcliffe, Chris
Rowley, JoséCarlos Santos, WalterSchmidt,Hans-PeterSchröcker,JoachimSchrod,
UweSiart, MaartenSneep,AxelSommerfeldt, PhilippStephani,James Szinger, Nicola
Talbot, BobTennent, TomekTrzeciak, UlrikVieth, Mike Vulis, Chris Walker, Peter
Wilson,JosephWright, RickZaccone, GregorZattlerandReinhardZierke.
Thatlistdoesnot cover themanypeople whoseideaswereencounteredonvarious
mailing lists, innewsgroups, or(more recently!) in webforums. Many such people
havehelped,evenifsimplytohighlightanareainwhichFAQworkwouldbe useful.
A The Background
1 Gettingstarted
(La)TeX offersaverylargenumberofchoices, andthebeginnerhastonavigatethrough
thatsetbeforeeventakinghisfirststeps. Theaimhereistoguidethebeginnerthrougha
setofanswersthatmayhelptheprocess. Weassumethebeginner‘knows’ that(La)TeX
is forthem;ifnot, the discussion“whatisTeX”mayhelp.
Tostartattheverybeginning,then, thebeginnermaywishtoknowwhatallthose
thingswithTeXintheirnameare”.
Armedwiththatknowledge, the beginnerneedstodecide whatmacroformatshe
needs (always assumingsomeone hasn’talready told hershe needs to use“fooTeX”.
Learn aboutthe alternatives in answers discussingcommonformats: lookatwriting
PlainTeX,LaTeXorConTeXt.
Ifnosystemhas beenprovided, thebeginnerneedsto acquire a TeXdistribution
appropriate totheirmachine. Availableoptions are available viatheanswer“(La)TeX
forvarious machines”;weassumeherethatthebeginnercaninstallthingsforherself,
orhas accesstosomeonewhocan.
Finally,thebeginnerneedstogetstartedinthe chosenformat. ForPlainTeX,see
Onlineintroductions:TeX”;forLaTeX, see“Onlineintroductions:LaTeX”;andfor
ConTeXt,theplacetostart is theConTeXtgardenwiki(whichis sogoodthe present
FAQs don’teventrytocompete).
2 Whatis TeX?
TeXis atypesettingsystemwrittenbyDonaldE.Knuth, whosays inthePreface tohis
bookon TeX (seebooksaboutTeX) that itis “intended for the creationofbeautiful
books—andespeciallyforbooks thatcontainalotofmathematics”. (If TeXwereonly
goodformathematicalbooks, muchof its usenowadayswouldnothappen: it’s actually
aprettygoodgeneraltypesettingsystem.)
Knuth is Emeritus Professor of the Art of Computer Programming at Stanford
University inCalifornia, USA. Knuth developed the first versionof TeX in 1978 to
dealwithrevisions tohis series“theArtofComputerProgramming”. Theideaproved
popularandKnuthproducedasecondversion(in1982)whichis thebasisofwhatwe
usetoday.
Knuthdevelopedasystemof‘literateprogramming’ towriteTeX, andheprovides
theliterate(WEB)sourceofTeXfreeofcharge,togetherwithtoolsforprocessingthe
web
sourceintosomethingthatcanbecompiledandsomethingthatcanbeprinted;there
is(inprinciple) neveranymysteryaboutwhatTeXdoes. Furthermore,theWEBsystem
providesmechanisms toportTeX tonewoperatingsystemsandcomputers;andinorder
that one may have some confidence in the ports, Knuth supplied atest by means of
whichonemayjudgethefidelityof aTeXsystem. TeXanditsdocumentsaretherefore
highlyportable.
For the interestedprogrammer, the distribution of TeXhas somefascination: it’s
nothinglike the wayonewouldconstructsuchaprogramnowadays, yetit has lasted
betterthan most, and has beenported to many differentcomputer architectures and
operatingsystems— the sorts ofattributes thatmuch modernprogramming practice
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aimsfor. Theprocessed‘readable’ sourceofTeX theprogrammaybefoundintheTDS
structuredversionofthedistribution.
Knuth’s source distribution:
systems/knuth/dist
Knuth’s sources in TDS layout:
macros/latex/contrib/latex-tds/knuth.tds.
zip
3 What’s“writingin TeX”?
TeXis amacroprocessor, andoffers itsusersapowerfulprogrammingcapability. To
produceadocument,youwritemacros andtextinterleavedwitheachother. Themacros
defineanenvironmentinwhichthetextistobe typeset.
However, the basicTeXengineisprettybasic,andis aprettydifficultbeasttodeal
with. Recognisingthis (and notwantingtowrite the samethings atthestartofevery
document, himself) Knuthprovideda packageof macrosfor use withTeX,calledPlain
TeX;PlainTeXisausefulminimum setof macrosthatcanbeusedwithTeX, together
withsomedemonstrationversionsof higher-levelcommands. Whenpeoplesaythey’re
“writing(orprogramming)inTeX”,theyusuallymeanthey’reprogramminginPlain
TeX.
4 Howshould I pronounce“TeX”?
The‘X’is“really”theGreekletterChi(c,inlowercase),andispronouncedbyEnglish-
speakers either abitlikethe‘ch’ inthe Scotsword‘loch’ ([x] intheIPA)or (atapinch,
if youcan’tdotheGreeksound)like‘k’. Itdefinitelyis notpronounced‘ks’(theGreek
letterwiththatsounddoesn’tlookremotelylikethe Latinalphabet‘X’).
Thiscurioususage derivesfromKnuth’s explanationintheTeXbookthatthename
comes from the Greek word for ‘art’ or ‘craft’(‘tecnh’), which is the root of the
Englishword‘technology’. Knuth’slogoforTeX is merelytheuppercaseversionof the
firstthree(Greek)lettersofthe word, jiggledabouta bit;wedon’tusethatlogo (and
logoslike it)inthis FAQ(seeTypesettingTeX-relatedlogos).
5 Whatis Metafont?
MetafontwaswrittenbyKnuthas acompaniontoTeX;whereasTeXdefines thelayout
ofglyphsonapage,Metafontdefinestheshapesof theglyphsandtherelationsbetween
them. Metafontdetails thesizes ofglyphs, forTeX’sbenefit,andcreates bitmapsthat
maybeusedtorepresenttheglyphs, forthebenefitofprogramsthatwillproduceprinted
outputaspostprocesses aftera runofTeX.
Metafont’slanguagefordefiningfonts permitstheexpressionofseveralclasses of
things: first(of course), thesimplegeometryof theglyphs;second,theproperties of the
printengine forwhichtheoutputis intended;andthird, ‘meta’-informationwhichcan
distinguishdifferentdesignsizes ofthesame font, orthe differencebetweentwofonts
thatbelongtothesame(orrelated)families.
Knuth (and others) have designed a fairrange of fonts using Metafont, but font
designusingMetafontismuchmoreofaminorityskill(even)thanisTeXmacro-writing.
What is more, it is adyingart: few new TeX-relatedfonts are producedusingMeta-
font,nowadays. Indeed, severalofthemajorfontfamilies(thatoriginatedinMetafont
designs) arenowseldomusedinanyotherwaythantheirconversiontoanoutlinefont
format.
6 Whatis Metapost?
The Metapost system(by JohnHobby)implements a picture-drawing languagevery
muchlikethatofMetafont;thedifferenceisthatMetapostoutputs vectorgraphicfiles
insteadofrun-length-encodedbitmaps;outputformatsavailablearePostScriptorSVG
Metapostis apowerfullanguageforproducingfiguresfordocumentstobeprintedon
PostScript printers, eitherdirectlyor embedded in(La)TeX documents. Metapost is
abletointegrate textandmathematics, markedupfor usewithTeX, withinthe graphics.
(KnuthtellsusthatheusesnothingbutMetapostfor diagramsintextthatheiswriting.)
AlthoughPDFLaTeX cannotordinarilyhandlePostScriptgraphics, theoutputof
Metapostis sufficientlysimpleandregularthatPDFLaTeXcanhandle itdirect, using
codeborrowedfromConTeXt—seegraphicsinPDFLaTeX.
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MuchofMetapost’ssourcecodewascopiedfrom Metafont’s sources, withKnuth’s
permission.
Amailinglist discussing Metapostis available; subscribe via theTUGmailman
interface.TheTUGwebsitealsohostsa Metapostsummarypage,andthetex-overview
documentgives youalotmoredetail(andsomeexplanatorybackgroundmaterial).
tex-overview.pdf
:
info/tex-overview
7 Things with “TeX”inthename
NewTeXusers areoftenbaffledbythemyriadterms with“TeX”inthename. Thegoal
ofthisansweristoclarifysomeofthemorecommonsuchterms.
TeX itself TeXproperisatypesettingsystembasedonasetoflow-levelcontrol
sequences that instruct TeX how to lay out text on the page. For example,
\hskip
inserts a given amount of horizontal space into the document, and
\font
makes a
given font available in a document. TeX is fully programmable using an integrated
macroscriptinglanguagethatsupportsvariables,scoping, conditionalexecution, control
flow, andfunction(really, macro)definitions. SeewhatisTeX?forsomebackground
informationonTeXandsomereferencedocumentsforpointerstodescriptionsofTeX
controlsequences, datatypes, andotherkeypartsofTeX.
TeX macro packages (a.k.a. TeX formats) SomeofTeX’scontrolsequencesare
tedioustousedirectly;theyareintendedprimarilyas buildingblocksfor higher-level—
andthereforemoreuser-friendly—abstractions. Forexample,thereisnowayinbase
TeXtospecifythatapiece oftextshouldbetypesetinalargerfont. Instead, one must
keeptrackofthecurrentsizeandtypeface,loadanewfontwiththesametypefacebut
a(specified)larger size, andtell TeX to use that newfont until instructed otherwise.
Fortunately, becauseTeX is programmable,itispossibletowriteamacrothathidesthis
complexitybehindasimple,new controlsequence. (Forexample, itispossibletodefine
\larger{my text}
to typeset “my text”in atafontsize nextlargerthanthecurrent
one.)
While some users write theirown, perfectly customized set of macros — which
they then typically reuse across many documents — it is far more common to rely
uponamacropackage, a collection ofTeXmacroswrittenbyexperts. Fortheuser’s
convenience, thesemacropackages areoftencombinedwiththebaseTeXengineinto
astandalone executable. Thefollowingaresomeofthatmacropackages that youare
likelytoencounter:
PlainTeX(executable:tex) SeeBooksonTeXandPlainTeX,Onlineintroductions:
TeX, Should I use Plain TeX or LaTeX?and Freely available (La)TeX books.
Note thatthePlainTeXexecutableis calledtex;thebaseTeXengineisgenerally
providedbyaseparateexecutablesuchasinitex orasa
-ini
flagtotex.
LaTeX(executable: latex) SeeBooksonTeXanditsrelations,(La)TeXTutorials,etc.,
Online introductions: LaTeXand Specialized(La)TeXtutorials.Notethatthere
havebeentwomajorversionsofLaTeX:LaTeX2erefers tothecurrentversionof
LaTeXwhileLaTeX2.09isthe long-since-obsolete (since1994)version(cf.What
isLaTeX2e?formoreinformation).
ConTeXt(executable: texmfstart) SeeWhatisConTeXt?.
Texinfo(executables: tex,makeinfo) SeeWhatisTexinfo?.makeinfoconvertsTex-
info documents to HTML, DocBook, Emacs info, XML, andplaintext. Tex (or
wrapperssuchas texi2dviandtexi2pdf) produceoneof TeX’susualoutputformats
suchasDVIorPDF. BecausetexloadsthePlainTeX macros, nottheTexinfoones,
aTexinfodocumentmustbeginwith
\input texinfo
explicitlyloadtheTexinfomacropackage.
Eplain— Extended Plain TeX(executable:eplain) SeeWhatisEplain?.
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Modified texexecutables Theoriginaltexexecutablewasproducedinthelate1970s
(cf.WhatisTeX?)andconsequentlylackedsomefeaturesthatusershavecometoexpect
fromtoday’ssoftware. The followingprogramsaddresstheseissues byaugmentingthe
TeXengine withsomeadditionalusefulfeatures:
PDFTeX(executable:pdftex) TeX,whichpredatesthePDFfileformatbyadecade,
outputs filesinaTeX-specificformatcalledDVI(cf.WhatisaDVIfile?). Incon-
trast,PDFTeXcanoutputbothDVIand PDF files. InPDF mode,itletsdocuments
exploitvarious PDFfeatures suchashyperlinks,bookmarks, andannotations, PDF-
TeXadditionallysupportstwosophisticatedmicro-typographicfeatures:character
protrusionandfontexpansion. SeeWhatisPDFTeX?.
XeTeX(executable: xetex) XeTeXreadsUTF-8encodedUnicodeinput,andextends
TeX’s fontsupporttoinclude ‘modern’formatssuchasTrueTypeandOpenType;
theseextensionstoitscapabilitiesmakeitwell-suitedtomulti-lingualtextscovering
differentwritingsystems. SeeWhatisXeTeX?.
LuaTeX(executable:luatex) TeXisprogrammedinitsownarcane,integrated,macro-
basedprogramminglanguage. LuaTeXadds asecondprogrammingengineusinga
modernscriptinglanguage, Lua, whichis‘embedded’inaTeX-alikeengine;ittoo
reads UTF-8anduses TrueTypeOpenTypefonts. SeeWhatisLuaTeX?.
e-TeX(executable: etex) e-TeXisanextensionofTeX’sprogramminginterface;as
such it’s only indirectly useful to end users, but it can be valuable to package
developers;there is anincreasingnumberofmacropackages thatrequirethe use
ofe-TeX. Aswellas existing in etex, e-TeX features areusuallyavailable inthe
pdftex executablesprovidedinthestandarddistributions;XeTeXandLuaTeXalso
providee-TeX’sprogrammingfacilities. SeeWhatise-TeX?.
(Note: e-TeX,whichenhancestheTeXengine, isnottobe confused withEplain,
whichenhances thePlainTeXmacropackage.)
Becauseeachof theabovederivefrom abaseTeXengine, itisinprinciplepossible
tocombineanyofthemwithoneoftheTeXmacropackageslistedearliertoproduce
‘extended’ executables. For example, the pdflatex, xelatex and lualatex executables
each combine LaTeX with anenhancedTeXengine. Indeed, most(if not all)ofthe
developmentofConTeXtisnowusingLuaTeX.
Some executables combine the features of multiple enhanced TeX engines: for
example,pdftexnow(incurrentdistributions)offersbothPDFTeXande-TeXextensions
intoa singleexecutable This executablemaybe offeredwithaLaTeXformat(as latex
orpdflatex) or withaPlainTeX format(aspdftex). (TexremainswithanunadornedTeX
executable usingPlainTeX,forpeoplesuchasKnuthhimself, whowantthecertainty
ofthe“original”.)
TeXdistributions ATeXdistributionprovidesastructuredcollectionofTeX-related
software. Generally,aTeX distributionincludes asetof“core”TeX executables suchas
texand latex;various fonts optimized foruse withTeX; helperprograms suchas the
BibTeXbibliographic-databaseformatter,editors,integrateddevelopmentenvironments,
file-format-conversionprograms;numerousLaTeXpackages;configurationtools;and
anyothergoodies thedistributorchoosestoinclude.
CommonlyencounteredTeXdistributionsincludeTeXLive, MiKTeX andMacTeX;
older onesincludeozTeX, CMacTeXandteTeX. MiKTeXis alsoavailable as thebasis
of the ProTeXt bundle, distributed on the TeX Live DVD mailing, as well as being
availableonline.
Some TeXdistributions targetaspecificoperatingsystemand/orprocessorarchi-
tecture; others run on multiple platforms. Many TeX distributions are free; a few
requirepayment. See(La)TeXfordifferentmachinesfora listoffreeandshareware
TeXdistributionsandCommercialTeXimplementationsforalistofcommercialTeX
distributions.
Summary Whatdoesitallmean?—thesimplelistsofobjects,alone,offernohelp
forthebeginner. TheFAQteamexpectsthisansweronlytobeofuseforpeoplewho
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are seeking guidance elsewhere (possiblywithin these FAQs) andcoming across an
unexpectednamelike“blahTeX”.
Thesubjectmattercoveredby thisansweris alsoaddressedinapage ontheTUG
site,“theLevelsofTeX ”.
8 Whatis CTAN?
Theacronymstandsfor“ComprehensiveTeXArchiveNetwork”, whichmore-or-less
specifieswhatit’sfor:
• Thearchivesofferacomprehensive collectionofTeXresources.
• Thecontentis madepubliclyaccessible,viatheinternet.
• CTANis anetworkofarchives, whichstrivetostayinstepwithoneanother.
The basic framework was developed bya TUGworkinggroup set up to resolve the
(thenexisting) requirementfor userstoknowonwhicharchivesiteaparticular package
mightbe found.
Actualimplementationoffers three distincttypesofhost:
Corearchives Whichformasmall,tightly-coupledsetofmachines,whichperform
managementfunctionsas wellasservingfiles;
Mirrorarchives Whichdonomorethantakeregularcopiesofcorearchives,andserve
them;and
Archiveselector Whichisameta-service,whichroutesrequeststoanapparently
“local”mirror(“local”isdeterminedbyanalgorithm thatusesyournetaddressto
determine whereyouare, andthenselectsamirrorthat’s close).
Note thatthereisnothingtopreventanyarchive from supportingotherfunctions, soa
CTANmirrormayalsooperateasa CPAN(Perl)mirrorandasaSourceForge(general
freesoftware)mirror, and...
Functionsthatdistinguishcorearchivesare:
• Uploads:usersmaysubmitnew(orupdated)materialviatheuploadredirector.
Significant changes to the archive are reported via the mailing list
ctan-ann@
dante.de
• Weakconsistency:changestothecontentofthearchivesarerapidlydistributedto
allcorearchives. (Consistencyis‘weak’ sincechanges cantakeseveralminutesto
propagate.)
• Providingdistribution(TeXLive andMiKTeX)support.
• Cataloguemaintenance.
• Mirrormonitoring.
Users maymakedirectcontactwiththeCTANmanagementteam.
Usersshouldordinarilydownloadmaterialfrom CTAN viathearchiveselector: this
uses themirrormonitor’sdatabase, anduses thecaller’sgeographicallocationtooffer
an efficientchoice of“sufficientlyup-to-date”mirrorsiteforyoutoconnectto. This
procedurehas theadvantageofdistributingtheloadonCTANmirrors.
Notethatallthedownloadlinks, giveninthewebrepresentationoftheseFAQs, are
setuptousethemirrorselector.
9 The(CTAN)catalogue
Findingstuff onnetworksusedalwaystobedifficult,butinrecentyears,searchengines
havebecomeamazinglygoodatdiggingoutunconsideredtrifles from themyriaditems
of informationavailableonthenet. However,for the (La)TeXuser,confusionisadded
bythe tendencytoindexthesamefileatseveralCTANmirrorsites.
Further,the(La)TeXuser usuallyneedsthemostrecentversionof apackage;it’s a
raresearchresultthatdescribesitselfas obsolete!
The CTANcatalogue, severalyears afteritwas introduced, has developed into a
powerfultoolfordealingwiththesedifficulties. Itprovides anentryfor eachpackageto
befoundonCTAN;users maysearchthe cataloguefor anentry, or theymaybrowseits
contents,usingthecatalogue’slists of“categories”ofitem.
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The basis of the catalogue is a collectionofsmall, stylised, articles; each shows
basicinformationaboutapackageonCTAN, andincludespointerstodownloadaddress
(onaCTANmirror),documentationandhomepageifany, andrelatedpackages.
TheCTANcentraldatabasemachineoffersa “BrowseCTAN”area, withlinksto
thelistof packages, toalistof ‘topics’(withpackages thatmatcheachtopic), andtoa
listofauthors (withtheirpackages).
Inaddition,everyCTANmirror holds acopyof the catalogue, presentedas aseries
of webpages;onemayscanthefiles inalphabetic order,or use acategory-basedindex.
Suchaccessis notas “sophisticated” asthatonthecentralsite, butitservedforyears
before thecentralsiteappeared.
The CTAN catalogue (on CTAN):
help/Catalogue
10 Howcan Ibesureit’s reallyTeX?
TeX (and Metafont and Metapost)are written in a‘literate’programming language
calledWebwhichis designedtobe portableacross awide range ofcomputersystems.
How, then,isa newversionofTeXchecked?
Ofcourse, anysensible software implementorwillhave his own suite oftests to
checkthathissoftware runs: thosewhoport TeXanditsfriends tootherplatformsdo
indeedperformsuchtests.
Knuth, however, provides a ‘conformancetest’forboth TeX(trip)andMetafont
(trap). He characterises these as ‘torture tests’: they are designed not to check the
obvious things thatordinarytypesetdocuments, or fontdesigns, willexercise, butrather
toexploresmallalleywaysoffthemainpaththroughthecodeofTeX.Theyare, tothe
casualreader,prettyincomprehensible!
Once animplementation ofTeX has passedits triptest, oran implementationof
Metafonthas passedits traptest, thenitmay in principlebedistributedas a working
version. (Inpractice, anydistributorwouldtestnewversionsagainst“real”documents
orfonts, too;whiletripandtraptestbits ofpathways withintheprogram, theydon’t
actuallytest foranyrealworldproblem.)
11 Whatise-TeX?
While Knuth has declared that TeX will neverchangeinanysubstantialway, there
remainthings thatonemightwishhadbeendonedifferently,or indeedimplementedat
all.
TheNTS projectsetouttoproduce anadvancedreplacement forTeX, toprovidea
basis fordevelopingsuchmodifications:this“NewTypesettingSystem”wouldshare
Knuth’s aims, but would implement the work in a modern way taking account of
the lessons learned with TeX. While a first demonstratorNTS did appear, it wasn’t
practicallyuseful, andtheprojectseems nolongeractive.
Inparallelwithits workonNTS itself,the projectdevelopedasetof extensionsthat
canbeusedwitha(“true”) TeXsystem. Suchamodifiedsystem isknownasane-TeX
system,andtheconcepthasprovedwidelysuccessful. Indeed,currentTeX distributions
aredeliveredwithmostformats builtwithane-TeX-basedsystem (for thosewhodon’t
want them, e-TeX’s extensions canbe disabled, leaving a functionallystandard TeX
system).
Theextensions rangefromtheseeminglysimple(increasingthenumberofavailable
registersfrom 256to32768)throughtoextremelysubtleprogrammingsupport.
ConTeXthasrequirede-TeXforitsoperationforsometime,thoughdevelopmentis
nowfocusedontheuseofLuaTeX.
SomeLaTeXpackagesalreadyspecifythe use of e-TeX.Somesuchpackagesmay
notworkatallonanon-e-TeXsystem;otherswillwork,butnotas wellas onane-TeX
system. TheLaTeXteam hasannouncedthatfuture LaTeXpackages(specificallythose
from the team, as opposed to those individually contributed) may require e-TeX for
optimum performance.
e-TeX
:
systems/e-tex
17
12 WhatisPDFTeX?
OnecanreasonablysaythatPDFTeXis (today)the mainstreamofTeXdistributions:
mostLaTeXandmanyConTeXtusersnowadays usePDFTeXwhether theyknowitor
not(more precisely,theyusePDFTeXextendedbye-TeX). SowhatisPDFTeX?
PDFTeXis adevelopmentofTeXthatis capable ofgeneratingtypesetPDF output
in place of DVI. PDFTeX has other capabilities, most notably in the area of fine
typographicdetail(forexample, itssupportforoptimisinglinebreaks),butitsgreatest
impacttodatehas beeninthe areaofPDF output.
PDFTeXstartedasa topicforHànTh
´
êThành’sMaster’sthesis,andseemsfirstto
have been publishedinTUGboat18(4), in1997(thoughitwascertainlydiscussedat
theTUG’96conferenceinRussia).
Whiletheworldwasmakinggooduse of “pre-releases”ofPDFTeX, Thànhusedit
asatest-bedforthemicro-typographywhichwastheprimesubjectofhisPh.D.research.
SinceThànhwasfinallyawardedhisPh.D.,day-to-daymaintenanceanddevelopmentof
PDFTeX 1.0(andlater) hasbeeninthehandsofagroupof PDFTeX maintainers(which
includes Thành);thegrouphasmanagedtomaintainastableplatform forgeneraluse.
Developmentof PDFTeXhas mostlystopped(onlybugfixes, andoccasionalsmall
developmentitems areprocessed): futuredevelopmentis focusedonLuaTeX.
13 WhatisLaTeX?
LaTeX is aTeXmacro package, originallywritten by Leslie Lamport, thatprovides
adocument processing system. LaTeX allows markup to describe the structure of a
document,sothattheuser neednotthinkaboutpresentation. Byusingdocumentclasses
and add-on packages, the same document can be produced in a variety of different
layouts.
LamportsaysthatLaTeX“represents abalance betweenfunctionality andeaseof
use”. Thisshows itselfas acontinualconflictthatleads to theneedforsuchthingsas
FAQs: LaTeXcanmeetmostuserrequirements,butfindingouthowisoftentricky.
14 WhatisLaTeX2e?
Lamport’s lastversionof LaTeX(LaTeX2.09,lastupdatedin1992) wassupersededin
1994byanew version (LaTeX2e)providedbytheLaTeXteam . LaTeX2eis nowthe
onlyreadily-availableversionofLaTeX,anddrawstogetherseveralthreads ofLaTeX
developmentfromthelaterdays ofLaTeX2.09. The“e”ofthenameis(intheofficial
logo)asingle-strokeepsilon(e,supposedlyindicativeofnomorethanasmallchange).
LaTeX2ehasseveralenhancementsoverLaTeX2.09, buttheywereallratherminor,
withaviewtocontinuityandstabilityratherthanthe“bigpush”thatsomehadexpected
fromthe team. LaTeX2e continues tothisdaytoofferacompatibilitymodeinwhich
mostfiles prepared for usewithLaTeX2.09willrun(albeit withsomewhat reduced
performance,andsubjecttovoluminouscomplaintsinthelogfile). Differencesbetween
LaTeX2eandLaTeX2.09are outlined in aseriesof‘guide’files thatareavailablein
every LaTeX distribution (the same directory also contains “news” about each new
release ofLaTeX2e).
Notethat, now,LaTeX2eis“featurefrozen”(theonlyallowedchanges comefrom
bugreports);this, too, is in pursuit ofstability, andis adrivingforce formanyofthe
effortstocontribute LaTeXpackages.
LaTeX guides and news:
macros/latex/doc
15 Howshould Ipronounce“LaTeX(2e)”?
Lamport neverrecommendedhow one shouldpronounce LaTeX, buta lot of people
pronounceit‘LayTeX’orperhaps ‘LahTeX’(withTeXpronouncedas the program
itself;seetherulesforTeX ).Itisdefinitelynottobepronouncedinthesamewayas the
rubber-treegum(whichwouldbe‘layteks’).
The LaTeX2e logo is supposedto end with ane; nevertheless, most people pro-
nouncethe name as‘LaTeX-two-ee’.
18
16 Should I usePlainTeXor LaTeX?
There’s nostraightforwardanswertothis question. ManypeopleswearbyPlainTeX,
and produce highly respectable documents usingit (Knuth is an example ofthis, of
course). But equally, many people are happy to let someone else take the design
decisions for them, accepting a small loss of flexibility in exchange for a saving of
(mental)effort.
The arguments around this topic can provoke huge amounts of noise and heat,
withoutoffering much byway oflight; your best betmay be to findout what those
aroundyouareusing, andtofollow theminthehope ofsome support. Lateron, you
canalwaysswitchyourallegiance;don’tbotheraboutit.
Ifyouarepreparingamanuscriptfor apublisheror journal, askthemwhatmarkup
they want before you develop your own; many big publishers have developed their
own(La)TeXstylesfor journals andbooks,andinsistthatauthorsstickcloselytotheir
markup.
17 HowdoesLaTeXrelate toPlain TeX?
TeXprovidesaprogramminglanguage(of sorts),andanydocumentmorecomplexthan
thetrivial“helloworld”willneedsomeprogramming.
LaTeXandPlainTeX arebothlibrarieswrittenforusewithTeX;theusercommands
texandlatexinvoke TeX-the-programwithalibraryincorporated. Librariesthatmay
beloadedinthis wayare knownas ‘formats’;whenauser “runs” PlainTeXorLaTeX,
theyare running TeX (theprogram) with anappropriate format. The documents are
thenprogrammedinPlainTeXorLaTeXlanguage.
Plain TeX andLaTeX exist because writing your documents in ‘raw’ TeX could
involve much reinventing of wheels for every document. Both languages serve as
convenientaids tomakedocumentwritingmorepleasant: LaTeXprovides manymore
itemstosupport‘common’requirements ofdocuments.
As such, LaTeX is close to being a superset of Plain TeX, but some Plain TeX
commandsdon’tworkasexpectedwhenusedina LaTeXdocument. UsingPlainTeX
commands inaLaTeXdocumentis anoccasionalsource ofbugs: theoutputisalmost
right, butsomethingsaremisplaced.
So,PlainTeXandLaTeXarerelatedthrough acommonparent, andare designed
for useinsimilar jobs;programmingforonewilloftennotworkcorrectlyintheother.
18 WhatisConTeXt?
ConTeXtisamacropackagecreatedbyHansHagenofPragma-Ade;itstartedasa
productiontoolforPragma(whichis apublishingcompany). ConTeXtis adocument-
productionsystembased,likeLaTeX, ontheTeXtypesettingsystem. WhereasLaTeX
insulates the writer from typographicaldetails, ConTeXt takes a complementary ap-
proachbyprovidingstructuredinterfaces forhandlingtypography, includingextensive
supportforcolors, backgrounds, hyperlinks,presentations,figure-textintegration,and
conditionalcompilation. Itgivestheuserextensivecontroloverformattingwhile mak-
ingiteasytocreate newlayoutsandstyleswithoutlearningtheTeXmacrolanguage.
ConTeXt’sunifieddesignavoids thepackageclashes thatcanhappenwithLaTeX.
ConTeXtalsointegratesMetaFun,a supersetof Metapostandapowerfulsystem for
vectorgraphics. MetaFuncanbeusedasa stand-alonesystemtoproducefigures, but
itsstrengthliesinenhancingConTeXtdocumentswithaccurategraphicelements.
ConTeXtallowsusers tospecifyformattingcommands inEnglish,Dutch,German,
French,orItalian, andtousedifferenttypesettingengines(PDFTeX, XeTeX, Alephand
LuaTeX)withoutchangingtheuserinterface. ConTeXtcontinuestodevelop,oftenin
responsetorequests from theusercommunity.
The developmentofLuaTeX was originallydrivenbyConTeXt, almostfromthe
startofits project. Nowadays, ConTeXtitisdistributedintwoversions—marktwo
(fileswithextension
.mkii
)whichrunsonPDFTeX butisnotunderactivedevelopment,
and mark four (files with extension
.mkiv
)(which runs on LuaTeX and is where
developmenthappens).
19
ConTeXthas alarge developercommunity(thoughpossiblynotas large asthat of
latex), but those developers who are activeseemtohave prodigiousenergy. Support
is available via aWIKIsiteand via themailinglist. A “standalone” distribution (a
TeX distribution with no macros other than ConTeXt-based ones) is available from
http://minimals.contextgarden.net/
—itprovidesaConTeXtsystemonanyof
anumberofplatforms,executingeithermarkiiormarkivConTeXt.
Notethat CTAN does not holdthe primarydistributionofConTeXt —potential
usersshouldrefer toConTeXt‘garden’sitefor detailsofthecurrentdistribution. CTAN
holds a copy of ConTeXt but makes no claimabout its “up-to-date”ness. Likewise,
CTANholdsafewcontributedConTeXtpackages, butmanymore aretobefoundvia
theConTeXtgarden.
ConTeXt distribution:
macros/context/current
ConTeXt packages selection:
macros/context/contrib
19 Whatarethe AMSpackages(AMSTeX, etc.)?
AMSTeXisaTeXmacropackage,originallywrittenbyMichaelSpivakfortheAmeri-
canMathematicalSociety(AMS) during1983–1985andis describedinthe book“The
JoyofTeX”.ItisbasedonPlainTeX,andprovidesmanyfeaturesforproducingmore
professional-lookingmathsformulaswithlessburdenonauthors. Itpays attentionto
thefinerdetailsof sizingandpositioningthatmathematicalpublishers careabout. The
aspects coveredinclude multi-line displayedequations, equationnumbering, ellipsis
dots, matrices, doubleaccents, multi-linesubscripts, syntaxchecking(faster processing
oninitialerror-checkingTeXruns),andotherthings.
As LaTeXincreasedinpopularity, authors soughttosubmitpaperstothe AMSin
LaTeX,soAMSLaTeXwasdeveloped. AMSLaTeXis acollectionof LaTeXpackages
andclassesthatofferauthorsmostof thefunctionalityofAMSTeX.TheAMS nolonger
recommends theuseofAMSTeX, andurges its authorstouseAMSLaTeXinstead.
AMSTeX distribution:
macros/amstex
AMSLaTeX distribution:
macros/latex/required/amslatex
20 WhatisEplain?
TheEplainmacropackageexpands onandextends thedefinitionsinPlainTeX.Eplain
is notintendedtoprovide“generictypesettingcapabilities”, asdoConTeXt, LaTeXor
Texinfo.Instead,itdefinesmacrotoolsthatshouldbeusefulwhatevercommandsyou
choose tousewhenyouprepareyourmanuscript.
For example, Eplain does not have a command
\section
,which would format
sectionheadings inan“appropriate”way, asLaTeX’s
\section
does. Thephilosophy
ofEplainisthatsomepeoplewillalwaysneedor wanttogobeyondthemacrodesigner’s
ideaof“appropriate”. Cannedsets ofmacros arefine—aslongasyouare willingto
accepttheresultingoutput. Ifyoudon’tliketheresults,orifyouaretryingtomatcha
differentformat, youmayfindthatEplainisforyou.
Ontheotherhand, almosteveryonewouldlikecapabilities suchascross-referencing
by labels, so that you don’t have toputactual page numbers in the manuscript. The
authors of Eplainbelieveitis theonlygenerallyavailablemacropackagethatdoes not
forceits typographic styleonanauthor, andyetprovidesthesecapabilities.
Anotheruseful feature ofEplainistheabilitytocreate PDFfiles withhyperlinks.
Thecross-referencingmacroscanimplicitlygeneratehyperlinksforthecross-references,
butyoucanalsocreateexplicithyperlinks,bothinternal(pointingtoadestinationwithin
thecurrentdocument)andexternal(pointingtoanotherlocaldocumentora URL).
SeveralLaTeXpackages provide capabilities whichPlain TeX users are lacking,
mostnotably text colouringand rotation providedby the graphics bundle(packages
colorandgraphics). Althoughthegraphicsbundleprovides aPlainTeX“loader”for
someofthepackages,itisnotatrivialjobtopassoptionstothosepackagesunder Plain
TeX, andmuchof thefunctionalityofthepackagesisaccessedthroughpackageoptions.
Eplainextends theloadersothatoptionscanbepassedtothepackages justas theyare
20
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