LaTeX Basics
by Henrison Hsieh

Here are the files that we made during the session:

(Some parts of this are based on notes from Brian Buccola, which can be found here: https://github.com/brianbuccola/latex-tutorials)

# ​​Why LaTeX?

• Free + Open Source
• Uses very portable (and typically stable) file formats (text and PDF)
• Very extensible (lots of packages to do many different things)
• Why not LaTeX?
• Learning curve
• Some things that you’re used to might be a little less intuitive to do in LaTeX
• But this is one thing this tutorial series will try to address!

# ​​What is LaTeX?

• A markup language (like HTML) used for typesetting documents
• Use text to specify formatting and other similar information
• In Word, one way to make a word boldface is to highlight it and click the [B] button
• In a Markup language, you do this with plain text!
• In HTML, you would do this:  <b>word</b>
• In LaTeX you would do this:  \textbf{word}
• The file you type up isn’t the final product; you run it through another program to get the result
• For HTML: Web Browser
• For LaTeX: some LaTeX interpreter

# ​​LaTeX Setups

• Plain Text Editor + Typesetting on the command line
• Not really recommended, but you can if you really really wanted to!
• Dedicated LaTeX editors:
• Usually at least one will come with your distribution
• Usually has shortcuts/autocomplete for commonly typed text strings
• Syntax highlighting
• Handles typesetting for you
• (Fancier) Text editor + LaTeX package:
• e.g. Sublime Text, Atom, vim, etc.
• You might have a favorite text editor already
• There is likely a package or extension you can download to get much of the functionality of a LaTeX editor
• Online:
• e.g. Overleaf, ShareLaTeX, etc.
• Can avoid having to install several GB of stuff
• Usually have some features to facilitate collaboration
• Downside: Might be a little less flexible
• There are also a number of different flavors of (La)TeX! But you don’t have to worry about this for the most part.

# ​​LaTeX Document Structure

## ​​2 Major Parts

• Preamble: Major formatting information, document-wide settings, packages, definitions (more on this last one next week)