Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ditch MSWord, OOWriter, etc..Go LaTeX

So you have another one of these book reports to write. You go through trauma, trying to figure out what to put on paper. Eventually when you do figure out what goes into your report, comes the problem of making the report look nice & professional like!

Has it not ever occurred to you the word processors we normally use bite us only too hard when it comes to formatting lengthy documents? The pictures are never there where you originally put it. Paragraphs break at the most uncanny locations. Alignments, white spaces, line spacing....arrgh the list is endless...

Would it not be cool, if you could just write whatever you wanted to be in your report and leave adding makeup part to the word processor? Well, you can. All you have to do is get used to using LaTex (pronounced either "Lah-tech" or "Lay-tech") .

Here is what you need to get yourself going. I was doing this on Windows OS. AFAIK creating LaTeX documents can be done on Linux environments as well. I am yet to explore on that particular phase.
  • Download a text editor that can compile & parse LaTeX source. I use WinEdt. Pretty good it is!
  • You need a few supplementary software. These are mandatory. So don't ask questions. Just have them installed before you compile your LaTeX source.... :D
  • There is no need for any of these software to be installed in a particular order. Just be a little cautious about the platform you are on when installing stable binary distributions of these aforementioned software.
You will be writing your document on the text editor. What you will have to do extra is to add the formatting tags where necessary in the text.

The following code is a simple structure of a LaTex document.



\title{Coffee Tales}
\author{Sachini Weerawardhana}


This is a silly document. No need for abstracts here!


This will be the first chapter with the title Introduction. Has two sections; dummy section 1 & dummy section 2

\section{dummy section 1}

\section{dummy section 2}

\chapter{How To Make Good Coffee}
Sections below describes how you can find out yourself if your coffee mug sucks or not!

\section {Is Good Coffee Hard to Find?}
OK so, good coffee is hard to find. Want to know why?

\chapter{Coffee Makers Inside Vehicles?}
Some incoherent nonsense goes here.


Write all that on a new document in WinEdt, save the document as .tex & compile. That is all there is to it! Tutorial here has super help to get you started. A post following this would be describing how you can make a customized cover page using LaTex

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