24 November 2007

step 2: actually typeset something

So if you haven't picked up on this, I'm trying to learn about LaTeX and I'm going to keep a blog to track my progress and motivate me to keep learning at a reasonable pace. I am not very good at computers so if you are, this is going to be terribly dull for you to follow. It will involve much oversimplification but what do you expect from a (disappointingly) computer-illiterate mathie who needs to break things down that way to understand? Haha, if you are good with computers and you're reading this you must think I'm a complete idiot. I'm not completely incompetent, I promise. I can write history essays. And, uh, write history essays.

Anyway... after reading a couple chapters detailing the intricacies of different dashes in TeX and adding emphasis to words, I became terribly bored and just wanted to try something out. The quadratic formula part is, for the most part, shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia's TeX entry.

Obviously I still have a lot to learn but there it's definitely a lot easier to learn things just by doing. A short summary of what I've learned and tried so far:

-Every document begins by defining what kind of document you're typesetting. I just used /documentclass{article} because that's what's in all the examples and I haven't explored the other options yet.
-You must add \begin{document}. You can add other things between these two commands but I don't know about them yet!
-$ and $$ set off formulas
-Bold and italics can be incorporated as follows: \itemphasis\rm or \bf{emphasis} with it being italics, bf being bold font and \rm being a closing tag meaning roman font
-As described in the sample, one should be conscious of dashes and hyphens. One hyphen(-) will produce a simple hyphen (for hyphenated words), two (--) will produce an en dash suitable for ranges, three (---) will produce an en dash for punctuation to represent a break in thought, and a hyphen inside a formula will produce a minus sign (use $-$).
-LaTeX will automatically adjust the spacing, so I added some errant spacing to observe this effect
-This introduced me to a few commands used in formulas like the square root (\sqrt) and how to represent fractions (\over).

This was the result:


Amin said...

Well, you are making progress, which is good. I never tried to learn LaTeX until this year, which was stupid. It is so useful for making things look good, my friend writes everything in it now, even work proposals! I learned that you should use it for chemistry or biology lab reports. Because so few people know how to use it in life science, it makes your lab look really professional compared to others, even if the actual content isn't very good =D

Here's a template file you can play around with, to see an example of how to make an article. Try changing stuff in it and recompiling.

leigh-anne said...

Haha, I would so not be able to get away with learning LaTeX the year I needed it! I'm hoping to make faster progress over the break because at the moment it's just a way of hopefully turning procrastination in to something useful and as much as I joke about being a procrastinator, I'm really not that bad. I'm probably only taking Physics labs from here on but if I should find myself in another Chem/Bio lab, I'll keep that in mind. =D

I've just noticed that you have a Utilitarian Vegetarianism article up on your Googlepages site that I fully intend to check out after I get a few exams written. I read what one of my friends wrote on the same topic for the same course (I think) and it should be interesting to see the differences.

Oh, and thanks for the link!