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Learn LaTeX again?

December 16, 2009

On the drive home, I thought of other things.  Such as how much I missed writing up neat little documents in LaTeX.  They turn out so sharp and professional-looking, much better than I’d generally ever get out of Microsoft Word.  I did my thesis in LaTeX, which still left me quite far from expert status, although I like to think I know a bit more about this typesetting language than the average person on the street (by a tiny margin).

As I drove down the free-way, exhausted from a long day on the water, I actually contemplated writing up some of my longer test procedures in a LaTeX document.  It’s really so much cleaner-looking.  Creating tables, references, embedding scripts, and showing equations would be easy, and look great. When I got home, I dug out my old “LaTeX Companion” book – a 1090 page, dog-eared, coffee covered, cross-referenced LaTex reference bible.  I can’t quite see a truly good reason to actually write anything in LaTex. No one else at work uses it, so if I wrote a test document, no one but me could edit it.  Which is really quite short-sighted.  Still, I can’t help but want to do it.

The LaTex website recommends using Tex Live for Linux operating systems.  I can’t remember what I used for my thesis, it was a full GUI program in Windows (TeXnicCenter, maybe?).  I kind of remember one of my profs doing all of his LaTex stuff on the command line – that seems much more difficult.  But I think it’s always cooler to be able to lightning-type in the terminal to make things happen.  It makes it seem like magic (Arthur C. Clarke did say that “Any significantly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2009 7:41 am

    I’m using Kile on Ubuntu Linux and I’m very satisfied with it. Further I’m using the most recent TeX Live 2009 that could be obtained from

    If you don’t need LaTeX for work but want to use it perhaps consider to use it for correspondence. The scrlttr2 class supports beautiful typesetting of letters, I’m using it and sometimes I’ve taken it to show friends for instance how their letters of application for jobs could look like, using TeX type technology and microtype etc. And once a letter style has been created it could be used a lot of times.


    • michellejw permalink*
      December 29, 2009 10:00 am

      Thanks – I’ll check out Kile. I made a resume template when I was applying for a job a couple of years ago, and it looked really nice. Latex requires a sort of steep learning curve, but I think it’s worth it once you get a few good templates going.

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