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LaTex plus Friends have a very long history of producing professional books. A document created for LaTex will usually have a .tex extension.


[edit] Background

Most of the scientific books you might have used in your own studies are set and written with LaTeX & Co. Unlike most other programs it requires an author to write the layout in a programming way (not WYSIWYG), similar to HTML or this Wiki. However, learning this "programming" will pay off later. LaTeX and friends will automatically take care of the complete layout and keep it uniform and very professional.

  • BibTeX takes care of citation, auto generation of a table of content, automatic indexing are just some highlights of the LaTeX system.
  • Editors (LaTeX is just the "compiler") include a wide choice of many different text editors. Emacs is very famous for Linux, WinEdt, Texmaker, Kile, etc. are other possible Editors.

LaTeX & Friends are available for *nix, Mac, and Windows and completely free. If you want to write a scientific book LaTeX is a must.

LaTeX however isn't for the faint of heart; but a comparatively easy substitute will be Lyx, which is a subset + user interface that produces LaTeX-compatible documents -- and very professional looking too (Linux+Windows versions available).

Although if you aim to produce professional-looking PDF's XeTeX with Kile is a better choice than Lyx since it supports UTF-8 and OpenType features like those offered by the Linux Libertine Font setting of ligatures and different subsets of chars (small capitals, table proportional & minuscle numbers)

[edit] LyX

  • (From their site)

LyX is a document processor that encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents (WYSIWYM) and not simply their appearance (WYSIWYG).

LyX combines the power and flexibility of TeX/LaTeX with the ease of use of a graphical interface. This results in world-class support for creation of mathematical content (via a fully integrated equation editor) and structured documents like academic articles, theses, and books. In addition, staples of scientific authoring such as reference list and index creation come standard. But you can also use LyX to create a letter or a novel or a theater play or film script. A broad array of ready, well-designed document layouts are built in.

See also AbiWord for a word like tool that can generate TeX.

[edit] Overview

LaTeX is not a stand-alone typesetting program in itself, but document preparation software that runs on top of Donald E. Knuth's TeX typesetting system. TeX distributions usually bundle together all the parts needed for a working TeX system and they generally add to this both configuration and maintenance utilities. Nowadays LaTeX, and many of the packages built on it, form an important component of any major TeX distribution.

LaTeX is a TeX macro package, not a modification to the TeX source program, so all the capabilities of TeX are present. The LaTeX macros encourage writers to think about the content of their documents, rather than the form. The ideal, very difficult to realize, is to have no formatting commands (like ``switch to italic" or ``skip 2 picas") in the document at all; instead, everything is done by specific markup instructions: ``emphasize", ``start a section".

elatex is the e-TX extended mode version of LaTeX format.

lambda is the Omega version of the LaTeX format.

pdflatex is the pdfTeX version of the LaTeX format.

the output file extension used for Tex files is DVI.

[edit] TeX

TeX is the base markup format used by LaTeX. There is a community for TeX typesetting called The file extension is usually .tex. A sample simple format is shown below as a working LaTex Document adapted from the site.

% This is a small sample LaTeX input file (Version of 10 April 1994)
% Use this file as a model for making your own LaTeX input file.
% Everything to the right of a  %  is a remark to you and is ignored by LaTeX.

% The Local Guide tells how to run LaTeX.

% WARNING!  Do not type any of the following 10 characters except as directed:
%                &   $   #   %   _   {   }   ^   ~   \   

\documentclass{article}        % Your input file must contain this and the \begin line. 
                               % The optional preamble begins here.
\title{An Example Document}    % Declares the document's title.
\author{Leslie Lamport}        % Declares the author's name.
\date{January 21, 1994}        % Deleting this command produces today's date.

\begin{document}               % there must also be an \end{document} command at the end.

\section{Simple Text}          % This command makes a section title.

Words are separated by one or more spaces.  Paragraphs are separated by
one or more blank lines.  The output is not affected by adding extra
spaces or extra blank lines to the input file.

Double quotes are typed like this: ``quoted text''.
Single quotes are typed like this: `single-quoted text'.

Long dashes are typed as three dash characters---like this.

Emphasized text is typed like this: \emph{this is emphasized}.
Bold       text is typed like this: \textbf{this is bold}.

\subsection{A Warning or Two}  % This command makes a subsection title. 

If you get too much space after a mid-sentence period---abbreviations
like etc.\ are the common culprits)---then type a backslash followed by
a space after the period, as in this sentence.

Remember, don't type the 10 special characters (such as dollar sign and
backslash) except as directed!  The following seven are printed by
typing a backslash in front of them:  \$  \&  \#  \%  \_  \{  and  \}.  
The manual tells how to make other symbols.

\end{document}                 % The input file ends with this command.

See also: DVI#TeX

[edit] Tools

  • Pandoc can convert these files.
  • LaTeX to SVG converter - LaTeX is not recognized in ePub. This converter helps overcome these problems for complex layouts like math equations.
  • LaTeXML is a XML/HTML/MathML converter.
  • TeX4ht is a highly configurable TeX-based authoring system dedicated mainly to produce HTML output.
  • plasTeX is open source (python) customizable converter from LaTeX to XHTML.
  • Sigil is open source XHTML editor and ePub assembler. When used in conjunction with plasTeX, it provides a semi-automatic conversion from LaTeX to ePub.
  • CTAN can convert LaTeX to eBooks

[edit] For more information

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