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Introduction to TeX, LaTeX, BibTeX and SliTeX

  1. TeX
  2. TeX is a advanced text formatter which has become the de facto standard for typesetting in mathematics, physics and engineering for more than a decade. It is very much alike a programming language in the some ways and that makes it both extremely versatile and at the same time (a bit) too involved for most users. Users that take the trouble to become TeXnicians usually end up developing their own set of macros that gives them exactly the results they want.

  3. LaTeX
  4. LaTeX is basically such a set of TeX macros that make TeX easier to use, hiding most of its esoteric workings from the user. (Things are unfortunately a bit more complicated than that as some TeX commands will break LaTeX). We have provided for you a LaTeX reference card to get you started. However, should the need or desire arise, the file The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX 2e provides more instruction on LaTeX. LaTeX manuals should also be available in the lab - notably the book LaTeX: A document preparation system. (Addison-Wesley) by Leslie Lamport.

    LaTeX use has become so widespread that several journals actually distribute their own LaTeX style sheets so that authors can with very little effort (in principle just by changing a line) change their papers to the exact format they will appear in the journal. The resultant decrease in time to press is one extra reason to use LaTeX for one's papers, technical reports or theses.

    LaTeX recently had a major upgrade to version LaTeX2e, thus combining LaTeX with features from AMSTeX and other TeX macro packages. The newest edition of Lamport's book describes this version - this could cause confusion as there are differences with the older editions some people may have. LaTeX2e uses a "compatibility mode" to process LaTeX files that would work with the previous version (2.0.9); working in this mode is about 50% slower so it is suggested that you eventually strat producing documents that conform to the new standard.

    CFM currently supports LaTeX2e on the SGI's and LaTeX 2.0.9 on the Suns. Those Suns that move from SunOS 4.1.* to Solaris will also have LaTeX2e.

  5. BibTeX
  6. BibTeX provides an organized way of keeping bibliography entries for use in references using LaTeX. One can even find prepared BibTeX bibliography files for different scientific areas on the Internet.

  7. SliTeX
  8. SliTeX is a TeX based macro package for preparing slides for presentations. Most people seem to prefer more WYSIWYG tools like Showcase on the SGIs or equivalent tools on Macs and PCs, or simply use LaTeX (since unfortunately SliTeX doesn't do everything LaTeX does) instead and just print on transparency paper. Still it used by a great many people and is very simple.

  9. Typesetting
  10. Following are the commands to work with ".tex" files:

    1. To 'compile' the ".tex" file into a ".dvi" file (necessary for either printing or previewing your work), type (for TeX, LaTeX and SliTeX files respectively):
      	tex file_name.tex
      	latex file_name.tex
      	slitex file_name.tex
    2. If you are using BibTeX, after you've done the previous step you have to type:
      	bibtex file_name.tex
    3. You may (in case you have references) need to run tex/latex more than once.
    4. To preview your work, which you are encouraged to do often (make sure to run tex/latex first), type:
      	xdvi file_name.dvi
    5. If you are not happy with what you see, edit your file accordingly and go through steps 1-4 again (step 2 may be omitted if no references have changed).
    6. To make a PostScript file (make sure to run tex/latex first, and don't forget the -o option), type:
      	dvips file_name.dvi -o 
    7. To view a ".ps" (PostScript) file, use ghostscript (or ghostview which provides a better user interface for ghostscript):
    8. To print your finished work (after you check that it looks good in the previewer), type:
    9. It is possible to go directly from the ".tex" format to the printer. To learn how to do this I suggest reading the dvips, dvi2ps and dvipsk man pages:
      	man dvips

  11. For more information
  12. You can also find out more about *TeX by checking out the following:

  13. Getting Help
  14. If you have any TeX/LaTeX/BibTeX/SliTeX related problems please ask around the lab first (another look at the manual wouldn't hurt also). If the problem persists please contact unless the problem is of a technical nature in which case the system administrators should be notified.