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How to Use LaTeX

A guide for installing and using the typesetting program LaTeX.

What is LaTeX?

LaTeX is a document markup language based on the TeX typesetting system. LaTeX was created with the intention of simplifying the creation of attractively-formatted books and other documents, especially books that contain a lot of mathematics. LaTeX is available free of charge. 

Though TeX (and by extension, LaTeX) is a code-based system, many available editors provide an interface that allows users to bypass the need to memorize code.

Using LaTeX follows these general steps:

1. Downloading and installing a TeX distribution
2. Preparing a .tex file using a text editing program
3. Compiling the file into a readable document

Step 3 above will often involve the installation of LaTeX packages. Packages are files that can be added on to a TeX distribution in order to enable it to do more things, such as create diagrams or charts, typeset new symbols or characters, or prepare new types of documents altogether.

Below you will find links discussing if/when using LaTeX instead of, say, Microsoft Word, is beneficial: