1. More Math Into LATEX Short Course Introduction

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This course is designed around a textbook written by George Grätzer, entitled More Math Into LATEX. I do encourage you to buy this book, but for now you might just want to download the free online version [7.2 MB]. Certainly if you want to continue learning how to use LATEX here at mathography.org, you absolutely need this online textbook as we will follow and cover this complete online edition.

LATEX is based on Don Knuth's Tau Epsilon Chi [TEX] and is widely considered the best way to prepare highly technical documents involving mathematics. I know when I first encountered LATEX I was a bit frightened by the cryptic looking code, but once you get beyond the initial shock you'll be creating spiffy looking mathography that will impress and leave a lasting impression on those that see it. Really, it's that good.

So for now, download the Math_into_LaTeX-4.zip package and expand it. Once expanded you will find a folder (directory) called "Math_into_LaTeX-4" which will have a load of files within it, and you'll need to open Short_Course.pdf and move to the next step.

2. Start Reading . . .

Yes, you'll need to read the Foreword, Preface and Introduction of the Short_Course.pdf that you downloaded in the prior section. After reading I'd like for everyone to leave a comment by clicking on the comment link below. I would especially like to know what OS (UNIX, Mac OS X, Linux, Windows, or whatever) you're using and what you expect to achieve at the end of this course.

What's especially nice about this online textbook is that it addresses one of the biggest problems people have when they decide to start learning LATEX, how to install it. That, of course will be addressed next!

3. Installing LATEX . . .

If you don't have working version of LATEX installed, you'll will have to skip forward and start with Appendix A which will outline the steps on how to install LATEX. The typical installation on Mac OS X consists of TEX Live and TeXShop, while a typical installation on Windows consists of WinEdt and MiKTeX. So please read Appendix A and get ready to start learning LATEX.

Windows users should concentrate on section A.1, and Mac OS X users should concentrate on A.2. Yes, you need to get busy doing this, because without having a running LATEX installation you won't be able to typeset this into that.

[ASSIGNMENT 1, 10%]: The first hand-in assignment is to take letter.tex document and edit it into something more personal. Certainly you should change the names and addresses, and the letter's content. Also rename this letter.tex document as letter_name.tex (name should be replaced with your last name) and then mail a copy of both the source and output (pdf) to assignments@mathography.org. To allow me to keep track of your work I strongly suggest that you always use the same email address, and without exception all assignments must be sent to assignments@mathography.org.

4. Lesson 1: LATEX . . .

Now we will be moving on into the nuts-and-bolts of using LATEX to typeset. It's really not just for mathematics and science, but most of the material presented here will be geared towards students interested in typesetting material that has some mathematics.

You should read Chapter 1 now and note the following two key points:

  • create two folders, one for work and one for samples;

  • when naming LATEX source files you should not use spaces or special characters. Keep file names simple and to the point.

[ASSIGNMENT 2, 10%]: The second hand-in assignment is to create a LATEX source file called chapter1_01.tex and store it in your work folder. Type the following into this source file

%This is a comment and you won't see this in the output.
%Your name should go here!
The most famous formula in mathematics is $e^{i\pi} + 1 = 0$ and it nicely relates five important numbers in one concise equation.

When you're done editing this document (source file) you will need to typeset it! Although you can just copy and paste, I suggest you actually type this in and edit/change some of it. Hopefully you won't make any errors, but if you do you'll get a chance to change them. Once done, mail a copy of both the source and output (pdf) to assignments@mathography.org. By the way, this may not be the most famous formula in mathematics, but it sure is nice.

5. Lesson 2: LATEX . . .

You should read Chapter 2 now and note the following two key points:
  • source files contain text, math and instructions;
  • some instructions (commands) have arguments (e.g. \emph{text goes here}), and some have no arguments (e.g. \LaTeX).
Download and read chapter2_01.tex. Yes, it probably looks weird. But please do look over the source and its output. You should also look at note1.tex found on page 10 of our Short_Course.pdf textbook. You'll also need to place sample.cls into your work folder. Both of these files are already in Math_into_LaTeX-4 folder, and if you prefer you can simple copy both files from Math_into_LaTeX-4 to work. However, you should also learn how to save files from the Internet to your computer because there's a lot of LATEX related files on the web. Some are pretty cool and will allow you to create some really cool documents. [ASSIGNMENT 3, 10%]: The third hand-in assignment is to typeset the note1.tex source file. If you're having trouble you probably missing the sample.cls file, or they're in different folders. You also need to carefully read page 11 so that you get an idea of what I was doing in the chapter2_01.tex lesson---it's really important that you realize that most formating is done properly, but on occasion you may get unexpected results. You'll now need to modify note1.tex by replacing "term" by "strange term" in the second sentence. In the forth sentence delete the word Rudi and the space that follows it. Save this new edited document as note1b.txt note1b.tex and typeset it. What's amazing is that everyone's computer will generate the same output: Although rare (IMHO), LATEX will occasionally require us to do some hard formating changes. You can, of course re-read page 13 to see what's suggested. However, LATEX's output is usually so good that tweaks like this are rarely needed. Once done with these examples (note1.tex, note1b.tex), mail a copy of both the source and output (pdf) to assignments@mathography.org.

6. Lesson 3: LATEX . . .

You should read Chapter 3 now and note the following key points:

  • mathematics can be easily type using simple commands;

  • two main environments are available, one for inline math and one for display style math;

  • building complicated mathematical expressions is best done by using simple building blocks;

  • mathematics can be aligned;

  • numbering, labeling and referencing mathematics is easy.

First I have to emphasize the simple difference between inline math and display math. On page 18 you'll see the following LATEX code for an inline limit:

$\lim_{x \to \infty} f(x)$

and the following code for a display style limit:

\lim_{x \to a} \frac{f(x) - f(a)}{x - a},

Okay, it's time to download and typeset the full source code for math.tex to appreciate the difference between this two limits. Again, since we are using the sample style for document you'll need to place math.tex in the work folder where the sample.cls file is.

Yes, I know it's not easy reading this code. But if you look carefully at this code I think you'll be able to make sense out of it. For example a fraction (1/2) would be written as \frac{1}{2}, and the \lim_{x \to a} is almost exactly as we would read it aloud, "the limit as x approaches a." Don't worry, even very complicated mathematics can be easily typeset using simple building blocks.

Let's start with an chapter3_01.tex that you'll need to place into your work folder. Yes, you'll need to examine the code and then typeset it. You may need to do several passes to make sense of it all. Do it and make sure you've read all of Chapter 3---don't worry, you don't have to remember everything and with practice the format of LATEX commands will become second nature. In time!

[ASSIGNMENT 4, 30%]: The fourth hand-in assignment is to typeset the following document (pdf). Yes, you'll need to do all the LATEX coding yourself, no template is being provided. You may have to look up some commands---look in your book! If you're really pulling your hair out you can email me.

When you're done, please email a copy of both the source and output (pdf) to assignments@mathography.org.

7. Lesson 4: LATEX . . .

You should read Chapter 4 now and note the following key points:

  • LATEX articles have two main parts, the preamble and the body;

  • we're using the amsart document class, which is just one of many different document classes;

  • the preamble includes instructions affecting the document;

  • the body is the actual article;

  • any images in the article are separate files.

Make sure you've downloaded the following three files:

  1. intrart.tex,

  2. products.eps,

  3. products.pdf,

and placed them into your work folder. Again, you can download the linked files above or just copy them from your Math_into_LaTeX-4 folder.

Let's look at the preamble first.


The \documentclass{amsart} code specifies the format used by most AMS journals. The \usepackage{amssymb,latexsym} code calls two packages that will be needed in this article---just some symbols used in the article. The \usepackage{graphicx} code is being used because we're using graphics. The other four statements are proclamations that define various environments. Don't fret over these details just yet!

Okay, it's time to typeset the intrart.tex article. I'm not interested in the actual content, but more how the LATEX code typesets into such a beautiful article. You'll need to view the intrart.tex source code and pdf output carefully. Again, read the book and note the following points:

  • the material before the \maketitle command

    \title{A construction of complete-simple\\
    distributive lattices}
    \author{George~A. Menuhin}
    \address{Computer Science Department\\
    University of Winnebago\\
    Winnebago, MN 53714}
    \date{March 15, 2006}

    In this note, we prove that there exist
    \emph{complete-simple distributive lattices,}
    that is, complete distributive lattices
    with only two complete congruences.

    is important and can easily be changed to your particular case. I strongly recommend that you comment out the \maketitle (i.e. change to %\maketitle) code in the article and re-typeset to see what happens. Also, try deleting \\ code in the title text and see what happens.

  • \section{some name} defines a section and sections can have \label{S:ref} reference labels;

  • definition, notation, theorem, figure, proof ,thebibliography, and equation environments have a begin and an end as follows:


    and can also have \label{D:ref} reference labels, the D here is used for definitions, so it might be wise to make note of the other code letters this author is using. Please try to be consistent, and I think following this author's conventions will prove helpful. Yes, please make note of each.

  • Carefully study the bibliography format.

Again, I know it's not easy reading this code. But if you look carefully at this code I think you'll be able to make sense out of it.

[ASSIGNMENT 5, 40%]: The fifth and final hand-in assignment is to typeset an article using the same format as the intrart.tex example. Yes, you'll need to do all the LATEX coding yourself, but you can follow the same format that was used in the intrart.tex example. Okay, your work here will mainly depend on your mathematical interest and ability. Even a basic article on something that interests you is perfectly fine. You don't need to use graphics, but you can if you like. Again, you may have to look up some commands---look in your book! If you're really pulling your hair out you can email me. I can, if prodded, create graphs for your project . . . just ask and I'll see if I can help.

When you're done, please email a copy of both the source and output (pdf) to assignments@mathography.org.

More LATEX . . .

. . . coming soon. Yes, I'm working expanding this site. Please consider leaving comments as to how to improve and what needs to be added. I really do listen. -Ron Bannon

. . . . . . . . . . This site is in the development cycle! . . . . . . . . . . I can guarantee that errors abound, and I welcome feedback! . . . . . . . . . .

Okay, there's a lot more to LATEX than was presented so far. Again, I do encourage you to buy George Grätzer's book, it's really one of the better general books on LATEX.

There's also a new site based on student suggestions on how to make learning LaTeX easier!