The Advanced TeXbook k byDavidSalomon(SpringerVerlag,1995,ISBN-100-387-
Acollection of Knuth’s publications about typography is also available:
Digital Typography y byDonaldKnuth(CSLIandCambridgeUniversityPress,1999,
ISBN-10 1-57586-011-2, paperback ISBN-10 1-57586-010-4).
and in late 2000, a “Millennium Boxed Set” of all 5 volumes of Knuth’s “Computers
and Typesetting” series (about TeX and Metafont) was published by Addison Wesley:
Computers & Typesetting, Volumes A–E Boxed Set t byDonaldKnuth(Addison-Wesley,
2001, ISBN-10 0-201-73416-8).
30 Books on LaTeX
LaTeX, a Document Preparation System m byLeslieLamport(secondedition,Addison
Wesley, 1994, ISBN-100-201-52983-1)
Guide to LaTeX X HelmutKopkaandPatrickW.Daly(fourthedition,Addison-Wesley,
2004, ISBN-10 0-321-17385-6)
LaTeX Beginner’s Guide e byStefanKottwitz(PacktPublishing,2011,ISBN-101847199860,
The LaTeX Companion n byFrankMittelbach, Michel Goossens,JohannesBraams,
David Carlisle and Chris Rowley (second edition, Addison-Wesley, 2004, ISBN-
10 0-201-36299-6, ISBN-13 978-0-201-36299-2);the book as also availableas adig-
ital download (in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats) from
The LaTeX Graphics Companion: : IllustratingdocumentswithTeXandPostScriptby
Michel Goossens, Sebastian Rahtz, Frank Mittelbach, Denis Roegel and Her-
bert Voß (second edition, Addison-Wesley, 2007, ISBN-10 0-321-50892-0, ISBN-
The LaTeX Web Companion: : IntegratingTeX,HTMLandXMLbyMichelGoossens
and Sebastian Rahtz (Addison-Wesley, 1999, ISBN-10 0-201-43311-7)
TeX Unbound: : LaTeXandTeXstrategiesforfonts,graphics,andmorebyAlanHoenig
(Oxford UniversityPress, 1998, ISBN-10 0-19-509685-1 hardback, ISBN-100-19-
More Math into LaTeX: : AnIntroductiontoLaTeXandAMSLaTeXbyGeorgeGrätzer
(fourth edition Springer Verlag, 2007, ISBN-10 978-0-387-32289-6
Digital Typography Using LaTeX X Incorporatingsomemultilingualaspects,anduse
ofOmega, by Apostolos Syropoulos, Antonis Tsolomitis and Nick Sofroniou
(Springer, 2003, ISBN-10 0-387-95217-9).
First Steps in LaTeX by George Grätzer (Birkhäuser, 1999, ISBN-10 0-8176-4132-7)
LaTeX: Line by Line: : TipsandTechniquesforDocumentProcessingbyAntoniDiller
(second edition, John Wiley& Sons, 1999, ISBN-10 0-471-97918-X)
LaTeX for Linux: : AVadeMecumbyBerniceSacksLipkin(Springer-Verlag,1999,
ISBN-10 0-387-98708-8, second printing)
Typesetting Mathematics with LaTeX X byHerbertVoß(UITCambridge,2010,ISBN-
Typesetting Tables with LaTeX X byHerbertVoß,(UITCambridge,2011,ISBN-10978-
PSTricks: Graphics and PostScript for TeX and LaTeX X by Herbert t Voß, , (UIT T Cam-
bridge, 2011, ISBN-10 978-1-906-86013-4)
Asample of George Grätzer’s “Math into LaTeX”, in Adobe Acrobat format, and
example ﬁles for the threeLaTeX Companions, and for Grätzer’s “FirstSteps in LaTeX”,
are all available on CTAN.
Examples for First Steps in LaTeX:
Examples for LaTeX Companion:
Examples for LaTeX Graphics Companion:
Examples for LaTeX Web Companion:
Sample of Math into LaTeX:
31 Books on other TeX-related matters
There’s a nicely-presented list of of “recommended books” to be had on the web:
The list of Metafont books is rather short:
The Metafontbook k byDonaldKnuth(AddisonWesley,1986,ISBN-100-201-13445-4,
ISBN-10 0-201-52983-1 paperback)
Alan Hoenig’s ‘TeX Unbound’ includes some discussion and examples of using Meta-
Abook covering a wide range of topics (including installation and maintenance) is:
Making TeX Work by Norman Walsh (O’Reilly and Associates, Inc, 1994, ISBN-10 1-
The book is decidedly dated, and is now out of print, but a copy is available via
and on CTAN, and we list it under “onlinebooks”.
32 Books on Type
The following is a partial listing of books on typography in general. Of these, Bringhurst
seems to be the one most oftenrecommended.
The Elements of Typographic Style e by Robert Bringhurst (Hartley &Marks, 1992,
Finer Points in the Spacing & Arrangement of Type e byGeoffreyDowding(Hartley&
Marks, 1996, ISBN-10 0-88179-119-9)
The Thames & Hudson Manual of Typography y byRuariMcLean(Thames&Hudson,
1980, ISBN-10 0-500-68022-1)
The Form of the Book k byJanTschichold(LundHumphries,1991,ISBN-100-85331-
Type & Layout t byColinWheildon(StrathmorePress,2006,ISBN-101-875750-22-3)
The Design of Books s byAdrianWilson(ChronicleBooks,1993,ISBN-100-8118-
Optical Letter Spacing g byDavidKindersleyandLidaCardozoKindersley(TheCar-
dozo Kindersley Workshop2001,ISBN-101-874426-139)
There are many catalogues of type specimens but the following books provide a
more interesting overall view of types in general and some of their history.
Alphabets Old & New by Lewis F. Day (Senate, 1995, ISBN-10 1-85958-160-9)
An Introduction to the History of Printing Types s by Geoffrey Dowding (British Li-
brary, 1998, UK ISBN-10 0-7123-4563-9; USA ISBN-10 1-884718-44-2)
The Alphabet Abecedarium m byRichardA.Firmage(DavidR.Godine,1993,ISBN-
The Alphabet and Elements of Lettering g byFrederickGoudy(Dover,1963,ISBN-100-
Anatomy of a Typeface e byAlexanderLawson(DavidR.Godine,1990,ISBN-100-
ATally of Types s byStanleyMorison(DavidR.Godine,1999,ISBN-101-56792-004-7)
Counterpunch by Fred Smeijers (Hyphen, 1996, ISBN-10 0-907259-06-5)
Treasury of Alphabets and Lettering g byJanTschichold(W.W.Norton,1992,ISBN-
AShort History of the Printed Word d byWarrenChappellandRobertBringhurst(Hart-
ley & Marks, 1999, ISBN-10 0-88179-154-7)
The above lists are limited to books published in English. Typographic styles are
somewhat language-dependent, and similarly the ‘interesting’ fonts depend on the
particular writing system involved.
33 Where to ﬁnd FAQs
Bobby Bodenheimer’s article, from which this FAQ was developed, used to be posted
(nominally monthly) to newsgroup
.The (long obsolete) last posted
copy of that article is kept on CTAN for auld lang syne.
Aversion of thepresentFAQ may be browsed via the World-Wide Web, and its
sources are available from CTAN.
This FAQ and others are regularly mentioned, on
in a “pointer FAQ” which is also saved at
A2006 innovation from Scott Pakin is the “visual” LaTeX FAQ. This is a document
with (mostly rubbish) text formatted so as to highlight things we discuss here, and
providing Acrobat hyper-links to the relevant answers in this FAQ on the Web. The
visual FAQ is provided in PDF format, on CTAN; it works best using Adobe Acrobat
Reader 7 (or later); some features are missing with other readers, or with earlier versions
of Acrobat Reader
Another excellent information source, available in English, is the(La)TeXnavigator.
Both the Francophone TeX user group Gutenberg and the Czech/Slovak user group
CS-TUG have published translations of this FAQ, with extensions appropriate to their
The Open Directory Project (ODP) maintains a list of sources of (La)TeX help,
including FAQs. View the TeX area at
Other non-English FAQs are available (off-CTAN):
,and archived on CTAN; the FAQ also
,and is archived on
CTAN — sadly, that effort seems to have fallenby the wayside.
Resources available onCTAN are:
Sources of this FAQ:
The visual FAQ:
34 Getting help online
We assume, here, that you have looked at all relevantFAQanswersyou can ﬁnd, you’ve
looked in anybooks you have, and scanned relevanttutorials. .. and still you don’t
know what to do.
There are two more steps you can take before formulating a question to the TeX
world at large.
First, (if you are seeking a particular package or program), start by looking on your
own system: you might already have what you seek — the better TeX distributions
provide a wide range of supporting material. TheCTANCataloguecan also identify
packages that might help: you cansearchit, or you can browse it “bytopic”. Each
catalogue entry has abrief description of the package, and linksto known documentation
on the net. In fact, a large proportion of CTAN package directories now include
documentation, so it’s often worth looking at the catalogue entry for a package you’re
considering using (where possible, each package link in the main body of these FAQs
has a link to the relevant catalogue entry).
Failing that, look to see if anyone has solved the problem before; places where
people ask are:
,whose “historical posts” are accessible viaGoogle
via itsarchive, or via the ‘Gmane’ newsgroup
,which holds a very long history of the list. A long shot would be to
search the archives of the mailing list’s ancient posts on CTAN, which go back to
the days when it was a digest: in those days, a question asked in one issue would
only ever be answered in the next one.
If the “back question” searches fail, you must ask the world at large.
So, how do you like to ask questions? — the three available mechanisms are:
(La)TeX queries is the
mailing list. Mail to
to ask a
question, but it’s probably better to subscribe to the list (via
)ﬁrst — not everyone will answer to you as well as
to the list.
2. Newsgroup: toaskaquestionon
,you can use your own news
client(if you haveone),or use the“+ new post”button on
of ‘categories’ to place your query, and theTeX,LaTeXandfriendsQ&Asite
StackExchange has a scheme for voting on the quality of answers (and hence of
those who offer support). This arrangement is supposed to enable you to rank any
answers that are posted.
StackExchange offershintsabout“goodbehaviour”, which any user should at least
scan before asking for help there. (The hints’ principal aim is to maximise the
chance that you get useful advice from the ﬁrst answer; for example, it suggests
that you supply aminimalexampleofyourproblem, just as these FAQs do. There
are people on the site who can be abrasive to those asking questions, who seem not
to be following the guidelines for good behaviour)
Donottry mailing the LaTeX project team, the maintainers of the TeX Live or MiKTeX
distributions or the maintainers of these FAQs for help; while all these addresses reach
experienced (La)TeX users, no small group can possibly have expertise in every area of
usage so that the “big” lists and forums are a far better bet.
35 Specialist mailing lists
The previous question, “gettinghelp”, talked of the two major forums in which (La)TeX,
Metafont and Metapost are discussed; however, these aren’t the only ones available.
The TUG web site offers many mailing lists other than just
The French national TeX user group, Gutenberg, offers a Metafont (and, de facto,
Metapost) mailing list,
:subscribe to it by sending a message
(Note that there’s also a Metapost-speciﬁc mailing list available via the TUG list
server; in fact there’s little danger of becoming confused by subscribing toboth.)
Announcements of TeX-related installations on the CTAN archives are sent to
the mailing list
. Subscribe to the list via its MailMan web-site
;list archives are available at the
same address. The list archives may also be browsed via
,and an RSS feed is also available:
36 How to ask a question
You want help from the community at large; you’ve decided where you’re going toask
Excellent “general” advice (how to ask questions of anyone) is contained inEric
Raymond’s article on the topic. Eric’sanextremelyself-conﬁdentperson,andthis
comes through in his advice; but his guidelines are very good, even for us in the un-
self-conﬁdentmajority. It’s important to remember that you don’thave a right to advice
from the world, but that if you express yourself well, you will usually ﬁnd someone
who will be pleased to help.
So how do you express yourself in the (La)TeX world? There aren’t any compre-
hensive rules, but a few guidelines may help in the application of your own common
device drivers for the Foobar operating system. Yes, TeX users need printers, but
no, TeX users will typically not be Foobar systems managers.
Similarly, avoid posing a question in a language that the majority of the group
don’t use: post in Ruritanian to
and you may have a long wait
before a German- and Ruritanian-speaking TeX expert notices your question.
using, or intend to use: “I can’t install TeX” is as good as useless, whereas “I’m
trying to install the mumbleTeX distribution on theGrobble operating system” gives
allthe context a potential respondent mightneed. Another common situation where
this information is important is when you’re having trouble installing something
new in your system: “I want to add the glugtheory package to my mumbleTeX v12.0
distribution on the Grobble 2024 operating system”.
want to do x in Plain TeX”, or “I want to do y in LaTeX running the boggle class”.
If you thought you knew how, but your attempts are failing, tell us what you’ve
tried: “I’ve already tried installing the elephant in the minicar directory, and it
didn’t work, even after refreshing the ﬁlename database”.
bug report,andtrytogeneratea minimum failing example.Ifyourexampleneeds
your local xyzthesis class, or some other resource not generally available, be sure to
include a pointer to how the resource can be obtained.
problems may be demonstrated with a “ﬁgure substitute” in the form of a
command, for some value ofhwidthi andhheighti. If the (real)
ﬁgure is needed, don’t try posting it: far better to put it on the web somewhere.
doing something, just what you’re doing and where the problem is.
37 How to make a “minimum example”
Our advice on asking questionssuggeststhatyoupreparea“minimumexample”(also
commonly known as a “minimal example”) of failing behaviour, as a sample to post
with your question. If you have a problem in a two hundred page document, it may be
unclear how toproceedfrom this problem to a succinct demonstration of your problem.
There are two valid approaches to this task: building up, and hacking down.
The “building up” process starts with a basic document structure (for LaTeX,
this would have
things. First to add is a paragraph or so around the actual point where the problem
occurs. (It may prove difﬁcult to ﬁnd the actual line that’s provoking the problem. If the
original problem is an error, reviewing“thestructureofTeXerrors” may help.)
Note that there are things that cango wrong in one part of the document as a result
of something in another part: the commonest is problems in the table of contents (from
something in a section title, or whatever), or the list ofhsomethingi (from somethingin
). In such a case, include the section title or caption (the caption probably
environment around it, but it doesn’t need the ﬁgure or table
If this ﬁle you’ve built up shows the problem already, then you’re done. Otherwise,
try adding packages; the optimum is a ﬁle with only one package in it, but you may
ﬁnd that the guilty package won’t even load properly unless another package has been
loaded. (Another common case is that package A only fails when package B has been
The “hacking down” route starts with your entire document, and removes bits until
the ﬁle no longer fails (and then of course restores the last thing removed). Don’t forget
to hack out any unnecessary packages, but mostly, the difﬁculty is choosing what to
hack out of the body of the document; this is the mirror of the problem above, in the
“building up” route.
If you’ve added a package (or more than one), add
to the preamble
too: that way, LaTeX will produce a list of the packages you’ve used and their version
numbers. This information may be useful evidence for people trying to help you.
The process of ‘building up’, and to some extent that of ‘hacking down’, can be
helped by stuff available on CTAN:
• theminimalclass(partoftheLaTeXdistribution)doeswhatitsnamesays: it
provides nothing more than what is needed to get LaTeX code going, and
can use, and a small package mwe which loads other useful packages (such as
blindtext and lipsum, both capable of producing dummy text in a document).
What if none of of these cut-down derivatives of your document will show your
error? Whatever you do, don’t post the whole of the document: if you can, it may be
usefulto make a copy availableon theweb somewhere: people willprobably understand
if it’s impossible . .. or inadvisable, in the case of somethingconﬁdential.
If the whole document is indeed necessary, it could be that your error is an overﬂow
of some sort; the best you cando is to post the code “around” the error, and (of course)
the full text of the error.
It may seem that all this work is rather excessive for preparing a simple post. There
are two responses to that, both based on the relative inefﬁciency of asking a question on
First, preparing a minimum document very often leads you to the answer, without
all the fuss of posting and lookingfor responses.
Second, your prime aim is to get an answer as quickly as possible; a well-prepared
example stands a good chance of attracting an answer “in a single pass”: if the person
replying to your post ﬁnds she needs more information, you have to ﬁnd that request,
post again, and wait for your benefactor to produce a second response.
All things considered, a good example ﬁle can save you a day, for perhaps half an
hour’s effort invested.
Much of the above advice, differently phrased, may also be read on the web at
; source of that article may be
,in both German and English.
: Distributed as part of
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