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inLaTeX.ThefollowingpackagesareknowntoworkwithEplain:graphics,graphicx,
color,autopict(LaTeXpictureenvironment),psfrag,andurl.
Eplaindocumentationisavailableonline(there’saPDFcopyintheCTANpackage
aswell),andthere’salsoamailinglist—signup,orbrowsethelistarchives,via
http://tug.org/mailman/listinfo/tex-eplain
Eplaindistribution:
macros/eplain
21 WhatisTexinfo?
Texinfoisadocumentationsystemthatusesonesourcefiletoproducebothon-line
informationandprintedoutput. Soinsteadofwritingtwodifferentdocuments,one
fortheon-linehelpandtheotherfora typesetmanual,youneedwrite onlyone
documentsourcefile.Whentheworkisrevised,youneedonlyreviseonedocument.
Byconvention,Texinfosourcefilenamesendwitha
.texi
or
.texinfo
extension.
Texinfoisamacrolanguage,somewhatsimilartoLaTeX,butwithslightlyless
expressivepower.ItsappearanceisofcourserathersimilartoanyTeX-basedmacro
language,exceptthatitsmacrosstartwith
@
ratherthanthe
\
that’smorecommonly
usedinTeXsystems.
YoucanwriteandformatTexinfofilesintoInfofileswithinGNUemacs,andread
themusingtheemacsInforeader.YoucanalsoformatTexinfofilesintoInfofilesusing
makeinfoandreadthemusinginfo,soyou’renotdependentonemacs.Thedistribution
includesaPerlscript,texi2html,thatwillconvertTexinfosourcesintoHTML: the
languageisafarbetterfittoHTMLthanisLaTeX,sothatthebreast-beatingagoniesof
convertingLaTeXtoHTMLarelargelyavoided.
Finally,ofcourse,youcanalsoprintthefiles,orconvertthemtoPDFusingPDFTeX.
Texinfodistribution:
macros/texinfo/texinfo
22 Lollipop
Alongtimeago(intheearly1990s),theLollipopTeXformatwasdeveloped(originally
totypesettheexcellentbookTeXbytopic).Severalpeopleadmiredtheformat,butno
“criticalmass”ofusersappeared,thatcouldhavepromptedmaintenanceoftheformat.
Morethan20yearslater,anewmaintainerappeared:hehopestobuildLollipop
intoanengineforrapiddocumentstyledevelopment.(Inaddition,heintendstoadd
supportforright-to-leftlanguagessuchashisown—Persian.)
Wecanonlyhopethat,thistime,Lollipopwill“catchon”!
lollipop
:
macros/lollipop
23 IfTeXissogood,howcomeit’sfree?
It’sfreebecauseKnuthchosetomakeitso(hemakesmoneyfromroyaltiesonhisTeX
books,whichstillsellwell).Heisneverthelessapparentlyhappythatothersshouldearn
moneybysellingTeX-basedservicesandproducts.WhileseveralvaluableTeX-related
toolsandpackagesareofferedsubjecttorestrictionsimposedbytheGNUGeneral
PublicLicence(GPL,sometimesreferredtoas‘Copyleft’),whichdeniestherightto
commercialexploitation. TeXitselfisofferedunderaprettypermissivelicenceof
Knuth’sown.
TherearecommercialversionsofTeXavailable;forsomeusers,it’sreassuring
tohavepaidsupport.Whatismore,someofthecommercialimplementationshave
featuresthatarenotavailableinfreeversions. (Thereverseisalsotrue: somefree
implementationshavefeaturesnotavailablecommercially.)
ThisFAQconcentrateson‘free’distributionsofTeX,butwedoatleastlistthe
majorvendors.
24 WhatisthefutureofTeX?
KnuthhasdeclaredthathewilldonofurtherdevelopmentofTeX;hewillcontinueto
fixanybugsthatarereportedtohim(thoughbugsarerare).Thisdecisionwasmade
soonafterTeXversion3.0wasreleased;ateachbug-fixreleasetheversionnumber
acquiresonemoredigit,sothatittendstothelimitp(atthetimeofwriting,Knuth’s
latestreleaseisversion3.1415926).KnuthwantsTeXtobefrozenatversionpwhen
21
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hedies;thereafter,nofurtherchangesmaybemadetoKnuth’ssource.(Asimilarrule
isappliedtoMetafont;itsversionnumbertendstothelimite,andcurrentlystandsat
2.718281.)
Knuthexplainshisdecision,andexhortsusalltorespectit,inapaperoriginally
publishedinTUGboat11(4),andreprintedintheNTGjournalMAPS.
Thereareprojects(someofthemlong-termprojects:see,forexample,theLaTeX3
project)tobuildsubstantialnewmacropackagesbasedonTeX.Therearealsovarious
projectstobuildasuccessortoTeX.Thee-TeXextensiontoTeXitselfarosefromsuch
aproject(NTS).Anotherpairofprojects,whichhavedeliveredalltheresultstheyare
likelytodeliver,istherelatedOmegaandAleph.TheXeTeXsystemisinprinciplestill
underdevelopment,butiswidelyused,andtheLuaTeXproject(thoughnotscheduled
toproduceforsometime)hasalreadydeliveredasystemthatincreasinglyaccessibleto
“ordinaryusers”.
25 Reading(La)TeXfiles
Soyou’vebeensentan(La)TeXfile:whatareyougoingtodowithit?
Youcan,ofcourse,“justreadit”,sinceit’saplaintextfile;theproblemisthatthe
markuptagsinthedocumentmayprovedistracting.Mostofthetime,evenTeXexperts
willtypeseta(La)TeXfilebeforeattemptingtoreadit...
Soyoushouldn’tbetooconcernedifyoucan’tmakeheadnortailofthefile:itis
designedtobereadbya(sortof)compiler,andcompilersdon’thavemuchincommon
withhumanreaders.
Apossiblenextstepistotryanon-lineLaTeXeditor.Therearemanyofthese—a
compilationoflinksmaybefoundinthisblogpost
Ofthatlonglist,thepresentauthorhasonlydabbledwithWriteLaTeX;itseems
wellsuitedtosimple‘one-shot’useinthisway.
Ifnoonlinecompilerhelps,youneedtotypesetthedocument“yourself”.Thegood
newsisthatTeXsystemsareavailable,free,formostsortsofcomputer;thebadnews
isthatyouneedaprettycompleteTeXsystemeventoreadasinglefile,andcomplete
TeXsystemsareprettylarge.
TeXisatypesettingsystemthatarosefromapublishingproject(see“whatisTeX”),
anditsbasicsourceisavailablefreefromitsauthor.However,atitsroot,itisjusta
typesettingengine:eventoviewortoprintthetypesetoutput,youwillneedancillary
programs.Inshort,youneedaTeXdistribution—acollectionofTeX-relatedprograms
tailoredtoyouroperatingsystem:fordetailsofthesortsofthingsthatareavailable,see
TeXdistributionsorcommercialTeXdistributions(forcommercialdistributions).
Butbeware—TeXmakesnoattempttolooklikethesortof
WYSIWYG
system
you’reprobablyusedto(see“whyisTeXnot
WYSIWYG
”):whilemanymodernversions
ofTeXhaveacompile–viewcyclethatrivalsthebestcommercialwordprocessorsin
itsresponsiveness,whatyoutypeisusuallymarkup,whichtypicallydefinesalogical
(ratherthanavisual)viewofwhatyouwanttypeset.
Sothere’sabalancebetweenthesimplicityoftheoriginal(marked-up)document,
whichcanmore-or-lessbereadinanyeditor,andthereallyratherlargeinvestment
neededtoinstallasystemtoreadadocument“asintended”.
Areyou“putoff”byallthis?—rememberthatTeXisgoodatproducingPDF:why
notaskthepersonwhosenttheTeXfiletosendanPDFcopy?
26 WhyisTeXnota
WYSIWYG
system?
W
YSIWYG
isamarketingterm(“Whatyouseeiswhatyouget”)foraparticularstyle
oftextprocessor.W
YSIWYG
systemsarecharacterisedbytwoprincipalclaims:that
youtypewhatyouwanttoprint,andthatwhatyouseeonthescreenasyoutypeisa
closeapproximationtohowyourtextwillfinallybeprinted.
Thesimpleanswertothequestionis,ofcourse,thatTeXwasconceivedlong
beforethemarketingterm,atatimewhenthemarketingimperativewasn’tperceived
assignificant.(Infact,itappearsthatthefirstexperimental
WYSIWYG
systemswere
runningincommerciallabs,nearwhereKnuthwasworkingonTeX.Atthetime,of
course,TeXwasonlyavailableonamainframe,andgettingittorunonthesmall
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experimentalmachineswouldhavedistractedKnuthfromhismissiontocreate a
typesettingsystemthathecouldusewhenpreparinghisbooksforpublication.)
However,allthatwasalongtimeago:whyhasnothingbeendonewiththe“wonder
textprocessor”tomakeitfitwithmodernperceptions?
Therearetwoanswerstothis.First,thesimple“thingshavebeendone”(butthey’ve
nottakenovertheTeXworld);andsecond,“therearephilosophicalreasonswhythe
wayTeXhasdevelopedisill-suitedtothe
WYSIWYG
style”.
Indeed,thereisafundamentalproblemwithapplying
WYSIWYG
techniquestoTeX:
thecomplexityofTeXmakesithardtogettheequivalentofTeX’soutputwithout
actuallyrunningTeXoverthewholeofthedocumentbeingprepared.
Acelebratedearlysystemoffering“
WYSIWYG
usingTeX”camefromtheVorTeX
project:apairofSunworkstationsworkedintandem,onehandlingtheuserinterface
whiletheotherbeaveredawayinthebackgroundtypesettingtheresult.VorTeXwas
quiteimpressiveforitstime,butthetwoworkstationscombinedhadhugelylesspower
thantheaveragesub-thousand-dollarPersonalComputernowadays,anditscodehas
notprovedportable(itneverevenmadethelast‘great’TeXversionchange,attheturn
ofthe1990s,toTeXversion3).
LightningTextures(anextensionofBlueSky’soriginalTeXsystemfortheMacin-
tosh),issadlynolongeravailable.
Thus“ScientificWord”(whichcanalsointeractwithacomputeralgebrasystem),is
theonlyremainingTeXsystemthatevenapproximatesto
WYSIWYG
operation.
TheissuehasofrecentyearsstartedtoattractattentionfromTeXdevelopers,and
severalinterestingprojectsthataddressthe“TeXdocumentpreparationenvironment
areinprogress.
Allthesame,it’sclearthattheTeXworldhastakenalongtimetolatchontotheidea
of
WYSIWYG
.Apartfromsimplearrogance(“we’rebetter,andhavenoneedtoconsider
thepettydoingsofthecommercialwordprocessormarket”),thereisarealconceptual
differencebetweenthewordprocessormodeloftheworldandthemodelLaTeXand
ConTeXtemploy—theideaof“markup”.“Pure”markupexpressesalogicalmodelof
adocument,whereeveryobjectwithinthedocumentislabelledaccordingtowhatitis
ratherthanhowitshouldappear:appearanceisdeducedfromthepropertiesofthetype
ofobject.Properlyapplied,markupcanprovidevaluableassistancewhenitcomesto
re-useofdocuments.
Established
WYSIWYG
systemsfindtheexpressionofthissortofstructuredmarkup
difficult;however,markupisstartingtoappearinthelistsofthecommercialworld’s
requirements,fortworeasons. First,anelementofmarkuphelpsimposestyleona
document,andcommercialusersareincreasinglyobsessedwithuniformityofstyle;
andsecond,theincreasinglypervasiveuseofXML-deriveddocumentarchivalformats
demandsit.ThesamechallengesmustneedsbeaddressedbyTeX-baseddocument
preparationsupportschemes,soweareobservingadegreeofconfluenceoftheneeds
ofthetwocommunities:interestingtimesmaybeaheadofus.
27 TeXUserGroups
TherehasbeenaTeXUserGroupsinceverynearthetimeTeXfirstappeared.Thatfirst
group,TUG,isstillactiveanditsjournalTUGboatcontinuesinregularpublication
witharticlesaboutTeX,Metafontandrelatedtechnologies,andaboutdocumentdesign,
processingandproduction.TUGholdsayearlyconference,whoseproceedingsare
publishedinTUGboat.
TUG’swebsiteisavaluableresourceforallsortsofTeX-relatedmatters,suchas
detailsofTeXsoftware,andlistsofTeXvendorsandTeXconsultants.Backarticles
fromTUGboatarealsoavailable.
Sometimeago,TUGestablisheda“technicalcouncil”,whosetaskwastooversee
thedevelopmentofTeXnicalprojects.Mostsuchprojectsnowadaysgoontheirway
withoutanysupportfromTUG,butTUG’swebsitelistsits
TechnicalWorkingGroups(TWGs).
TUGhasareasonableclaimtobeconsideredaworld-wideorganisation,butthere
aremanynationalandregionalusergroups,too;TUG’swebsitemaintainsalistof
23
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hrefhttp://www.tug.org/lugs.html“LocalUserGroups”(LUGs).
ContactTUGitselfvia
http://tug.org/contact
LastEdit2013-06-25
B DocumentationandHelp
28 BooksrelevanttoTeXandfriends
Therearetoomanybooksforthemalltoappearinasinglelist,sothefollowinganswers
aimtocover“related”books,withsubjectmatterasfollows:
• TeXitselfandPlainTeX
• LaTeX
• BooksonotherTeX-relatedmatters
• BooksonType
TheselistsonlycoverbooksinEnglish:noticesofnewbooks,orwarningsthat
booksarenowoutofprintarealwayswelcome.However,theseFAQsdonotcarry
reviewsofcurrentpublishedmaterial.
29 BooksonTeX,PlainTeXandrelations
WhileKnuth’sbookisthedefinitivereferenceforbothTeXandPlainTeX,thereare
manybookscoveringthesetopics:
TheTeXbook byDonaldKnuth(Addison-Wesley,1984,ISBN-100-201-13447-0,pa-
perbackISBN-100-201-13448-9)
ABeginner’sBookofTeX byRaymondSeroulandSilvioLevy,(SpringerVerlag,1992,
ISBN-100-387-97562-4)
TeXbyExample:ABeginner’sGuide byArvindBorde(AcademicPress,1992,ISBN-
100-12-117650-9—nowoutofprint)
IntroductiontoTeX byNorbertSchwarz (Addison-Wesley, , 1989, ISBN-10 0-201-
51141-X—nowoutofprint)
APlainTeXPrimer byMalcolmClark(OxfordUniversityPress,1993,ISBNs0-198-
53724-7(hardback)and0-198-53784-0(paperback))
ATeXPrimerforScientists byStanleySawyerandStevenKrantz(CRCPress,1994,
ISBN-100-849-37159-7)
TeXbyTopic byVictorEijkhout(Addison-Wesley,1992,ISBN-100-201-56882-9—
nowoutofprint,butseeonlinebooks;youcanalsonowbuyacopyprinted,on
demand,byLulu—see
http://www.lulu.com/content/2555607
)
TeXfortheBeginner byWynterSnow(Addison-Wesley,1992,ISBN-100-201-54799-
6)
TeXfortheImpatient byPaulW.Abrahams,KarlBerryandKathrynA.Hargreaves
(Addison-Wesley,1990,ISBN-100-201-51375-7—nowoutofprint,butseeonline
books)
TeXinPractice byStephanvonBechtolsheim(SpringerVerlag,1993,4volumes,
ISBN-103-540-97296-Xfortheset,orVol.1:ISBN-100-387-97595-0,Vol.2:
ISBN-100-387-97596-9,Vol.3:ISBN-100-387-97597-7,andVol.4:ISBN-100-
387-97598-5)
TeX:Startingfrom
1
1
byMichaelDoob(SpringerVerlag,1993,ISBN-103-540-
56441-1—nowoutofprint)
TheJoyofTeX byMichaelD.Spivak(secondedition,AMS,1990,ISBN-100-821-
82997-1)
1
That’s‘StartingfromSquareOne’
24
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TheAdvancedTeXbook byDavidSalomon(SpringerVerlag,1995,ISBN-100-387-
94556-3)
AcollectionofKnuth’spublicationsabouttypographyisalsoavailable:
DigitalTypography byDonaldKnuth(CSLIandCambridgeUniversityPress,1999,
ISBN-101-57586-011-2,paperbackISBN-101-57586-010-4).
andinlate2000,a“MillenniumBoxedSet”ofall5volumesofKnuth’s“Computers
andTypesetting”series(aboutTeXandMetafont)waspublishedbyAddisonWesley:
Computers&Typesetting,VolumesA–EBoxedSet byDonaldKnuth(Addison-Wesley,
2001,ISBN-100-201-73416-8).
30 BooksonLaTeX
LaTeX,aDocumentPreparationSystem byLeslieLamport(secondedition,Addison
Wesley,1994,ISBN-100-201-52983-1)
GuidetoLaTeX HelmutKopkaandPatrickW.Daly(fourthedition,Addison-Wesley,
2004,ISBN-100-321-17385-6)
LaTeXBeginner’sGuide byStefanKottwitz(PacktPublishing,2011,ISBN-101847199860,
ISBN-13978-1847199867)
TheLaTeXCompanion byFrankMittelbach, Michel Goossens,JohannesBraams,
DavidCarlisleandChrisRowley(secondedition,Addison-Wesley,2004,ISBN-
100-201-36299-6,ISBN-13978-0-201-36299-2);thebookasalsoavailableasadig-
italdownload(inEPUB,MOBIandPDFformats)from
http://www.informit.
com/store/latex-companion-9780133387667
TheLaTeXGraphicsCompanion: IllustratingdocumentswithTeXandPostScriptby
MichelGoossens,SebastianRahtz,FrankMittelbach,DenisRoegelandHer-
bertVoß(secondedition,Addison-Wesley,2007,ISBN-100-321-50892-0,ISBN-
13978-0-321-50892-8)
TheLaTeXWebCompanion: IntegratingTeX,HTMLandXMLbyMichelGoossens
andSebastianRahtz(Addison-Wesley,1999,ISBN-100-201-43311-7)
TeXUnbound: LaTeXandTeXstrategiesforfonts,graphics,andmorebyAlanHoenig
(OxfordUniversityPress,1998,ISBN-100-19-509685-1hardback,ISBN-100-19-
509686-Xpaperback)
MoreMathintoLaTeX: AnIntroductiontoLaTeXandAMSLaTeXbyGeorgeGrätzer
(fourtheditionSpringerVerlag,2007,ISBN-10978-0-387-32289-6
DigitalTypographyUsingLaTeX Incorporatingsomemultilingualaspects,anduse
ofOmega,byApostolosSyropoulos,AntonisTsolomitisandNickSofroniou
(Springer,2003,ISBN-100-387-95217-9).
FirstStepsinLaTeX byGeorgeGrätzer(Birkhäuser,1999,ISBN-100-8176-4132-7)
LaTeX:LinebyLine: TipsandTechniquesforDocumentProcessingbyAntoniDiller
(secondedition,JohnWiley&Sons,1999,ISBN-100-471-97918-X)
LaTeXforLinux: AVadeMecumbyBerniceSacksLipkin(Springer-Verlag,1999,
ISBN-100-387-98708-8,secondprinting)
TypesettingMathematicswithLaTeX byHerbertVoß(UITCambridge,2010,ISBN-
10978-1-906-86017-2)
TypesettingTableswithLaTeX byHerbertVoß,(UITCambridge,2011,ISBN-10978-
1-906-86025-7)
PSTricks:GraphicsandPostScriptforTeXandLaTeX by Herbert t Voß, , (UIT T Cam-
bridge,2011,ISBN-10978-1-906-86013-4)
AsampleofGeorgeGrätzer’s“MathintoLaTeX”,inAdobeAcrobatformat,and
examplefilesforthethreeLaTeXCompanions,andforGrätzer’s“FirstStepsinLaTeX”,
areallavailableonCTAN.
25
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ExamplesforFirstStepsinLaTeX:
info/examples/FirstSteps
ExamplesforLaTeXCompanion:
info/examples/tlc2
ExamplesforLaTeXGraphicsCompanion:
info/examples/lgc
ExamplesforLaTeXWebCompanion:
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SampleofMathintoLaTeX:
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31 BooksonotherTeX-relatedmatters
There’sanicely-presentedlistofof“recommendedbooks”tobehadontheweb:
http://www.macrotex.net/texbooks/
ThelistofMetafontbooksisrathershort:
TheMetafontbook byDonaldKnuth(AddisonWesley,1986,ISBN-100-201-13445-4,
ISBN-100-201-52983-1paperback)
AlanHoenig’s‘TeXUnbound’includessomediscussionandexamplesofusingMeta-
font.
Abookcoveringawiderangeoftopics(includinginstallationandmaintenance)is:
MakingTeXWork byNormanWalsh(O’ReillyandAssociates,Inc,1994,ISBN-101-
56592-051-1)
Thebookisdecidedlydated,andisnowoutofprint,butacopyisavailablevia
sourceforge
andonCTAN,andwelistitunder“onlinebooks”.
32 BooksonType
Thefollowingisapartiallistingofbooksontypographyingeneral.Ofthese,Bringhurst
seemstobetheonemostoftenrecommended.
TheElementsofTypographicStyle by Robert Bringhurst (Hartley &Marks, 1992,
ISBN-100-88179-033-8)
FinerPointsintheSpacing&ArrangementofType byGeoffreyDowding(Hartley&
Marks,1996,ISBN-100-88179-119-9)
TheThames&HudsonManualofTypography byRuariMcLean(Thames&Hudson,
1980,ISBN-100-500-68022-1)
TheFormoftheBook byJanTschichold(LundHumphries,1991,ISBN-100-85331-
623-6)
Type&Layout byColinWheildon(StrathmorePress,2006,ISBN-101-875750-22-3)
TheDesignofBooks byAdrianWilson(ChronicleBooks,1993,ISBN-100-8118-
0304-X)
OpticalLetterSpacing byDavidKindersleyandLidaCardozoKindersley(TheCar-
dozoKindersleyWorkshop2001,ISBN-101-874426-139)
Therearemanycataloguesoftypespecimensbutthefollowingbooksprovidea
moreinterestingoverallviewoftypesingeneralandsomeoftheirhistory.
AlphabetsOld&New byLewisF.Day(Senate,1995,ISBN-101-85958-160-9)
AnIntroductiontotheHistoryofPrintingTypes by Geoffrey Dowding (British Li-
brary,1998,UKISBN-100-7123-4563-9;USAISBN-101-884718-44-2)
TheAlphabetAbecedarium byRichardA.Firmage(DavidR.Godine,1993,ISBN-
100-87923-998-0)
TheAlphabetandElementsofLettering byFrederickGoudy(Dover,1963,ISBN-100-
486-20792-7)
AnatomyofaTypeface byAlexanderLawson(DavidR.Godine,1990,ISBN-100-
87923-338-8)
ATallyofTypes byStanleyMorison(DavidR.Godine,1999,ISBN-101-56792-004-7)
26
Counterpunch byFredSmeijers(Hyphen,1996,ISBN-100-907259-06-5)
TreasuryofAlphabetsandLettering byJanTschichold(W.W.Norton,1992,ISBN-
100-393-70197-2)
AShortHistoryofthePrintedWord byWarrenChappellandRobertBringhurst(Hart-
ley&Marks,1999,ISBN-100-88179-154-7)
TheabovelistsarelimitedtobookspublishedinEnglish.Typographicstylesare
somewhatlanguage-dependent,andsimilarlythe‘interesting’fontsdependonthe
particularwritingsysteminvolved.
33 WheretofindFAQs
BobbyBodenheimer’sarticle,fromwhichthisFAQwasdeveloped,usedtobeposted
(nominallymonthly)tonewsgroup
comp.text.tex
.The(longobsolete)lastposted
copyofthatarticleiskeptonCTANforauldlangsyne.
AversionofthepresentFAQmaybebrowsedviatheWorld-WideWeb,andits
sourcesareavailablefromCTAN.
ThisFAQandothersareregularlymentioned,on
comp.text.tex
andelsewhere,
ina“pointerFAQ”whichisalsosavedat
http://tug.org/tex-ptr-faq
A2006innovationfromScottPakinisthe“visual”LaTeXFAQ.Thisisadocument
with(mostlyrubbish)textformattedsoastohighlightthingswediscusshere,and
providingAcrobathyper-linkstotherelevantanswersinthisFAQontheWeb. The
visualFAQisprovidedinPDFformat,onCTAN;itworksbestusingAdobeAcrobat
Reader7(orlater);somefeaturesaremissingwithotherreaders,orwithearlierversions
ofAcrobatReader
Anotherexcellentinformationsource,availableinEnglish,isthe(La)TeXnavigator.
BoththeFrancophoneTeXusergroupGutenbergandtheCzech/Slovakusergroup
CS-TUGhavepublishedtranslationsofthisFAQ,withextensionsappropriatetotheir
languages.
TheOpenDirectoryProject(ODP)maintainsalistofsourcesof(La)TeXhelp,
includingFAQs. ViewtheTeXareaat
http://dmoz.org/Computers/Software/
Typesetting/TeX/
Othernon-EnglishFAQsareavailable(off-CTAN):
German Postedregularlyto
de.comp.tex
,andarchivedonCTAN; theFAQalso
appearsat
http://www.dante.de/faq/de-tex-faq/
French AFAQusedtobepostedregularlyto
fr.comp.text.tex
,andisarchivedon
CTAN—sadly,thateffortseemstohavefallenbythewayside.
Czech See
http://www.fi.muni.cz/cstug/csfaq/
ResourcesavailableonCTANare:
DanteFAQ:
help/de-tex-faq
FrenchFAQ:
help/LaTeX-FAQ-francaise
SourcesofthisFAQ:
help/uk-tex-faq
Obsolete
comp.text.tex
FAQ:
obsolete/help/TeX,_LaTeX,_etc.:
_Frequently_Asked_Questions_with_Answers
ThevisualFAQ:
info/visualFAQ/visualFAQ.pdf
34 Gettinghelponline
Weassume,here,thatyouhavelookedatallrelevantFAQanswersyoucanfind,you’ve
lookedinanybooksyouhave,andscannedrelevanttutorials... andstillyoudon’t
knowwhattodo.
TherearetwomorestepsyoucantakebeforeformulatingaquestiontotheTeX
worldatlarge.
First,(ifyouareseekingaparticularpackageorprogram),startbylookingonyour
ownsystem:youmightalreadyhavewhatyouseek—thebetterTeXdistributions
provideawiderangeofsupportingmaterial.TheCTANCataloguecanalsoidentify
27
packagesthatmighthelp: youcansearchit,oryoucanbrowseit“bytopic”. Each
catalogueentryhasabriefdescriptionofthepackage,andlinkstoknowndocumentation
onthenet. Infact,alargeproportionofCTANpackagedirectoriesnowinclude
documentation,soit’softenworthlookingatthecatalogueentryforapackageyou’re
consideringusing(wherepossible,eachpackagelinkinthemainbodyoftheseFAQs
hasalinktotherelevantcatalogueentry).
Failingthat,looktoseeifanyonehassolvedtheproblembefore;placeswhere
peopleaskare:
1. newsgroup
comp.text.tex
,whose“historicalposts”areaccessibleviaGoogle
groups,and
2. themailinglist
texhax
viaitsarchive,orviathe‘Gmane’newsgroup
gmane.comp.
tex.texhax
,whichholdsaverylonghistoryofthelist.Alongshotwouldbeto
searchthearchivesofthemailinglist’sancientpostsonCTAN,whichgobackto
thedayswhenitwasadigest:inthosedays,aquestionaskedinoneissuewould
onlyeverbeansweredinthenextone.
Ifthe“backquestion”searchesfail,youmustasktheworldatlarge.
So,howdoyouliketoaskquestions?—thethreeavailablemechanismsare:
1. Mailinglists:therearevariousspecialistmailinglists,buttheplacefor‘general’
(La)TeXqueriesisthe
texhax
mailinglist. Mailto
texhax@tug.org
toaska
question,butit’sprobablybettertosubscribetothelist(via
http://tug.org/
mailman/listinfo/texhax
)first—noteveryonewillanswertoyouaswellas
tothelist.
2. Newsgroup: toaskaquestionon
comp.text.tex
,youcanuseyourownnews
client(ifyouhaveone),orusethe“+newpost”buttonon
http://groups.google.
com/group/comp.text.tex
.
3. Webforum:alternativesare:the“LaTeXcommunity”site,whichoffersavariety
of‘categories’toplaceyourquery,andtheTeX,LaTeXandfriendsQ&Asite
(“StackExchange”).
StackExchangehasaschemeforvotingonthequalityofanswers(andhenceof
thosewhooffersupport).Thisarrangementissupposedtoenableyoutorankany
answersthatareposted.
StackExchangeoffershintsabout“goodbehaviour”,whichanyusershouldatleast
scanbeforeaskingforhelpthere. (Thehints’principalaimistomaximisethe
chancethatyougetusefuladvicefromthefirstanswer;forexample,itsuggests
thatyousupplyaminimalexampleofyourproblem,justastheseFAQsdo.There
arepeopleonthesitewhocanbeabrasivetothoseaskingquestions,whoseemnot
tobefollowingtheguidelinesforgoodbehaviour)
DonottrymailingtheLaTeXprojectteam,themaintainersoftheTeXLiveorMiKTeX
distributionsorthemaintainersoftheseFAQsforhelp;whilealltheseaddressesreach
experienced(La)TeXusers,nosmallgroupcanpossiblyhaveexpertiseineveryareaof
usagesothatthe“big”listsandforumsareafarbetterbet.
texhax
‘backcopies’:
digests/texhax
35 Specialistmailinglists
Thepreviousquestion,“gettinghelp”,talkedofthetwomajorforumsinwhich(La)TeX,
MetafontandMetapostarediscussed;however,thesearen’ttheonlyonesavailable.
TheTUGwebsiteoffersmanymailinglistsotherthanjust
texhax
viaitsmaillist
managementpage.
TheFrenchnationalTeXusergroup,Gutenberg,offersaMetafont(and,defacto,
Metapost)mailinglist,
metafont@ens.fr
:subscribetoitbysendingamessage
subscribe metafont
to
sympa@ens.fr
(Notethatthere’salsoaMetapost-specificmailinglistavailableviatheTUGlist
server;infactthere’slittledangerofbecomingconfusedbysubscribingtoboth.)
28
AnnouncementsofTeX-relatedinstallationsontheCTANarchivesaresentto
themailinglist
ctan-ann
. SubscribetothelistviaitsMailManweb-site
https:
//lists.dante.de/mailman/listinfo/ctan-ann
;listarchivesareavailableatthe
sameaddress.Thelistarchivesmayalsobebrowsedvia
http://www.mail-archive.
com/ctan-ann@dante.de/
,andanRSSfeedisalsoavailable:
http://www.mail-
archive.com/ctan-ann@dante.de/maillist.xml
36 Howtoaskaquestion
Youwanthelpfromthecommunityatlarge;you’vedecidedwhereyou’regoingtoask
yourquestion,buthowdoyouphraseit?
Excellent“general”advice(howtoaskquestionsofanyone)iscontainedinEric
Raymond’sarticleonthetopic. Eric’sanextremelyself-confidentperson,andthis
comesthroughinhisadvice;buthisguidelinesareverygood,evenforusintheun-
self-confidentmajority.It’simportanttorememberthatyoudon’thavearighttoadvice
fromtheworld,butthatifyouexpressyourselfwell,youwillusuallyfindsomeone
whowillbepleasedtohelp.
Sohowdoyouexpressyourselfinthe(La)TeXworld?Therearen’tanycompre-
hensiverules,butafewguidelinesmayhelpintheapplicationofyourowncommon
sense.
• Makesureyou’reaskingtherightpeople.Don’taskinaTeXforumaboutprinter
devicedriversfortheFoobaroperatingsystem.Yes,TeXusersneedprinters,but
no,TeXuserswilltypicallynotbeFoobarsystemsmanagers.
Similarly,avoidposingaquestioninalanguagethatthemajorityofthegroup
don’tuse:postinRuritanianto
de.comp.text.tex
andyoumayhavealongwait
beforeaGerman-andRuritanian-speakingTeXexpertnoticesyourquestion.
• Ifyourquestionis(ormaybe)TeX-system-specific,reportwhatsystemyou’re
using,orintendtouse:“Ican’tinstallTeX”isasgoodasuseless,whereas“I’m
tryingtoinstallthemumbleTeXdistributionontheGrobbleoperatingsystem”gives
allthecontextapotentialrespondentmightneed.Anothercommonsituationwhere
thisinformationisimportantiswhenyou’rehavingtroubleinstallingsomething
newinyoursystem:“IwanttoaddtheglugtheorypackagetomymumbleTeXv12.0
distributionontheGrobble2024operatingsystem”.
• Ifyouneedtoknowhowtodosomething,makeclearwhatyourenvironmentis:“I
wanttodoxinPlainTeX”,or“IwanttodoyinLaTeXrunningtheboggleclass”.
Ifyouthoughtyouknewhow,butyourattemptsarefailing,telluswhatyou’ve
tried: “I’vealreadytriedinstallingtheelephantintheminicardirectory,andit
didn’twork,evenafterrefreshingthefilenamedatabase”.
• Ifsomething’sgoingwrongwithin(La)TeX,pretendyou’resubmittingaLaTeX
bugreport,andtrytogenerateaminimumfailingexample.Ifyourexampleneeds
yourlocalxyzthesisclass,orsomeotherresourcenotgenerallyavailable,besureto
includeapointertohowtheresourcecanbeobtained.
• Figuresarespecial,ofcourse.Sometimesthefigureitselfisreallyneeded,butmost
problemsmaybedemonstratedwitha“figuresubstitute”intheformofa
\rule
{width}{height}
command,forsomevalueofhwidthiandhheighti.Ifthe(real)
figureisneeded,don’ttrypostingit:farbettertoputitonthewebsomewhere.
• Beassuccinctaspossible.Yourhelpersdon’tusuallyneedtoknowwhyyou’re
doingsomething,justwhatyou’redoingandwheretheproblemis.
37 Howtomakea“minimumexample”
Ouradviceonaskingquestionssuggeststhatyoupreparea“minimumexample”(also
commonlyknownasa“minimalexample”)offailingbehaviour,asasampletopost
withyourquestion.Ifyouhaveaprobleminatwohundredpagedocument,itmaybe
unclearhowtoproceedfromthisproblemtoasuccinctdemonstrationofyourproblem.
Therearetwovalidapproachestothistask:buildingup,andhackingdown.
The “buildingup”processstartswith abasicdocumentstructure (forLaTeX,
thiswouldhave
\documentclass
,
\begin{document}
,
\end{document}
)andadds
things. Firsttoaddisaparagraphorsoaroundtheactualpointwheretheproblem
29
occurs.(Itmayprovedifficulttofindtheactuallinethat’sprovokingtheproblem.Ifthe
originalproblemisanerror,reviewing“thestructureofTeXerrors”mayhelp.)
Notethattherearethingsthatcangowronginonepartofthedocumentasaresult
ofsomethinginanotherpart:thecommonestisproblemsinthetableofcontents(from
somethinginasectiontitle,orwhatever),orthelistofhsomethingi(fromsomethingin
a
\caption
).Insuchacase,includethesectiontitleorcaption(thecaptionprobably
needsthe
figure
or
table
environmentaroundit,butitdoesn’tneedthefigureortable
itself).
Ifthisfileyou’vebuiltupshowstheproblemalready,thenyou’redone.Otherwise,
tryaddingpackages;theoptimumisafilewithonlyonepackageinit,butyoumay
findthattheguiltypackagewon’tevenloadproperlyunlessanotherpackagehasbeen
loaded.(AnothercommoncaseisthatpackageAonlyfailswhenpackageBhasbeen
loaded.)
The“hackingdown”routestartswithyourentiredocument,andremovesbitsuntil
thefilenolongerfails(andthenofcourserestoresthelastthingremoved).Don’tforget
tohackoutanyunnecessarypackages,butmostly,thedifficultyischoosingwhatto
hackoutofthebodyofthedocument;thisisthemirroroftheproblemabove,inthe
“buildingup”route.
Ifyou’veaddedapackage(ormorethanone),add
\listfiles
tothepreamble
too:thatway,LaTeXwillproducealistofthepackagesyou’veusedandtheirversion
numbers.Thisinformationmaybeusefulevidenceforpeopletryingtohelpyou.
Theprocessof‘buildingup’,andtosomeextentthatof‘hackingdown’,canbe
helpedbystuffavailableonCTAN:
• theminimalclass(partoftheLaTeXdistribution)doeswhatitsnamesays: it
providesnothingmorethanwhatisneededtogetLaTeXcodegoing,and
• themwebundleprovidesanumberofimagesinformatsthat(La)TeXdocuments
canuse,andasmallpackagemwewhichloadsotherusefulpackages(suchas
blindtextandlipsum,bothcapableofproducingdummytextinadocument).
Whatifnoneofofthesecut-downderivativesofyourdocumentwillshowyour
error?Whateveryoudo,don’tpostthewholeofthedocument:ifyoucan,itmaybe
usefultomakeacopyavailableonthewebsomewhere:peoplewillprobablyunderstand
ifit’simpossible... orinadvisable,inthecaseofsomethingconfidential.
Ifthewholedocumentisindeednecessary,itcouldbethatyourerrorisanoverflow
ofsomesort;thebestyoucandoistopostthecode“around”theerror,and(ofcourse)
thefulltextoftheerror.
Itmayseemthatallthisworkisratherexcessiveforpreparingasimplepost.There
aretworesponsestothat,bothbasedontherelativeinefficiencyofaskingaquestionon
theinternet.
First,preparingaminimumdocumentveryoftenleadsyoutotheanswer,without
allthefussofpostingandlookingforresponses.
Second,yourprimeaimistogetananswerasquicklyaspossible;awell-prepared
examplestandsagoodchanceofattractingananswer“inasinglepass”:iftheperson
replyingtoyourpostfindssheneedsmoreinformation,youhavetofindthatrequest,
postagain,andwaitforyourbenefactortoproduceasecondresponse.
Allthingsconsidered,agoodexamplefilecansaveyouaday,forperhapshalfan
hour’seffortinvested.
Muchoftheaboveadvice,differentlyphrased,mayalsobereadonthewebat
http://www.minimalbeispiel.de/mini-en.html
; sourceofthatarticlemaybe
foundat
http://www.minimalbeispiel.de/
,inbothGermanandEnglish.
blindtext.sty
:
macros/latex/contrib/blindtext
lipsum.sty
:
macros/latex/contrib/lipsum
minimal.cls
: Distributedaspartof
macros/latex/base
mwe.sty
:
macros/latex/contrib/mwe
30
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested