Introduction To Cryptography, Fall 2003:
A brief introduction to LaTex
LaTeX (pronounced la-te-k) is a "document preparation system"; The LaTeX compiler takes files with specific structure (i.e., LaTeX files) and produces output graphic files with typeset text and figures. It is relatively easy to add mathematical equations and figures to LaTeX documents; LaTeX also has extcellent page formatting and styling.
LaTeX files have the suffix ".tex", and are plain text
files that can be edited with any text editor.
Emacs (http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/emacs.html) and XEmacs (www.xemacs.org) have LaTeX-modes for editing LaTeX files more easily.
For beginners, it is easier to use a LaTeX-specific editor, such as WinEdt for windows (it is a shareware and has a free trial period).
For example, you can download and install MikTex (free).
You can check if you already have latex installed by running "latex" from a shell (in windows or unix) you should get something like :
[arielbaz@razor ~]$ latex
This is TeX, Version 3.14159 (Web2C 7.3.1)
Note: LaTeX is already installed on cluster-pc.cs.columbia.edu
You might want to consider Emacs/XEmacs, or WinEdt.
However, there are many other text editors, some with support for LaTeX.
(For first timers to Emacs/XEmacs: this is not your usual text editor. Spend half an hour to read the tutorial, available by pressing CTRL+H and then T, to learn how to use this powerful editor).
Note: If you decide to use WinEdt, you might have smoother installation by first installing the LaTeX environment, and only afterwards installing WinEdt. WinEdt has preset configurations for different LaTeX compilers, so if the compiler is installed before WinEdt, you can spare some of the configuring time.
To view PDF files, you need the Acrobat Reader.
To view PS (postscript) files, you need GhostView.
sample1.tex is a simple latex file
with the following
compiling the file gives the following output
$ latex sample1.tex
This is TeX, Version 3.14159 (MiKTeX 2.2)
Babel <v3.7h> and hyphenation patterns for english, french, german, ngerman, du
mylang, nohyphenation, loaded.
Document Class: article 2001/04/21 v1.4e Standard LaTeX document class
(C:\Program Files\texmf\tex\latex\base\size10.clo)) (sample1.aux) 
Output written on sample1.dvi (1 page, 232 bytes).
Transcript written on sample1.log.
with the file sample1.dvi created.
calling dvips sample1.dvi would create a postscript file sample1.ps
The file can be compiled to a pdf document by calling pdflatex sample1.tex, and we get sample1.pdf
The course example document is ITC0.tex
and the resulting files are ITC0.dvi, ITC0.ps and ITC0.pdf
Before you try writing LaTeX documents, download the example .tex files above and try to compile and view them on your computer.
Writing LaTeX files
There are many resources that can help you write LaTeX files
Some LaTeX editors will save you alot of time (again, WinEdt is a great example).
There are several good tutorials and introductions. You can use the following links:
The LaTeX project home: http://www.latex-project.org
Once you can compile the example documents, and want to learn more
on writing LaTeX, you can read The
not so short introduction to LaTeX which also contains tables of
LaTeX symbols (pages 58-64).
Other symbols tables can be found at http://omega.albany.edu:8008/Symbols.html, and at
More tips on LaTeX: http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~dwilkins/LaTeXPrimer
Simple example and numerous links:
go back to the course website