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Writing Beautiful Documents With LaTeX

Date: February 9, 2015
When writing technical papers, the go to format is LaTeX due to its high-quality typesetting abilities, free software license and low-level design control. WYSIWYG word-processing systems are easy to use, but they cannot create documents as beautiful as the LaTeX system can, especially when it comes to working with mathematical formulae. For reasons such as these, academic theses and scientific research papers are usually produced using this technology.

Document creation is command-based and might seem strange at first, but after getting over the initial learning curve, you will want all your imortant papers to be produced using LaTeX. As shown below with my undergraduate thesis, it will even make one's simple title page look aesthetically pleasing (at least more so!).


The only caveat is that creating a LaTeX-based document requires one to make a script using macros to "program" and compile their document. The code below is a very basic example. Click the button to see the main file used in the compilation of my undergraduate thesis.

Toggle LaTeX Code

LaTeX vs TeX

LaTeX is actually a set of macros (format) built for the TeX system. In a nutshell, TeX is the core typesetting technology which provides a set of primitive commands to format a document with great detail, and specialized algorithms to compute the optimal flow of text in that document. TeX is able to be extended by employing its macro language to bundle lists of commands, which has resulted in various different formats, including: For other formats or related information, check the Comprehensive TEX Archive Network (CTAN) and the TeX Users Group.

Installing LaTeX

The easiest way to install LaTeX is to install a TeX distribution which contains a large collections of TeX related software. In windows, there is MiKTeX and proTeXt, for Mac OS, there is MacTeX and for Unix/Linux, one can check out TeX Live.