The workings of LaTeX
LaTeX is free computer software (open source) that enables you to “set” text. You can set your text as a book, an article, a folder, a catalogue, etc. One does not need to think about line endings, pagination, alignment and many other layout techniques. LaTeX takes care of the look of your text, in every detail. Years of experience has been bound together in free software: LaTeX.
But what is the catch? Well, you have to structure your text. Instead of applying markup directly, one defines the function of a line of text. This called “What You Mean Is What You Get” (wymiwyg). […]▸ Many other programs work according to “What You See Is What You Get” (wysiwyg). Word for example tries to show the characters on screen as these would be output on paper or in pdf. ◂
Using LaTeX, one defines a line of text to be a heading of a certain level, an equation, a citation, or ordinary main text. Separate styles define to the formatting of these elements on paper.
There is a big advantage to such a structured manner of writing your text. One can change the formatting of the text really quickly and consistently. This works similar to the “styles” feature in Word. When you make up your mind and want to change the formatting of level 2 headings from font face “Arial Bold” to font face ”Palatino Italic”, one can do so really quickly. There is no need to go through all occurrences of this heading. LaTeX will automatically take care of the output on paper. Pagination, placement of paragraphs on the page, everything works out well, automatically. Many algorithms under the hood ensure your pages look well.
Why others do not use LaTeX
Typesetting software that outputs professionally looking publications is available for free, for years already. LaTeX (pronounce as “latech”) makes professionally looking pages from any text. But, the use of LaTeX is kind of difficult. That is the main reason people do not use LaTeX, despite their desire for the great output. Set your Text offers the support that learns you to structure your texts with LaTeX in an easy manner. That means, LaTeX is only used under the hood. You will use only a friendly user interface with the advice from Set your Text.
Following examples give an idea about the publications you can prepare using LaTeX with support from Set your Text:
- PhD thesis, MSc thesis
- scientific article
- books: novel, class book
- overhead sheets
One proceeds on age-old knowledge with LaTeX
We live in a digital era. Everyone can prepare text and images on a page using a simple computer. People often used word processing software such as Word. The graphical output quality of such software is often terrible. Besides, many people complain about the quirks of word processing software.
In the old days, typesetting was a profession. […]▸ Typesetters put leaden letters in a wooden frame. As a mirror image. This window containing the letters cast from lead was used in a printing press to get the ink on paper. For the next page, all letters had to be set again. Nowadays, these leaden letters can be found in museums only. ◂ Today, computers set text using comparable techniques. Oddly, many people do not take advantage of the progress that has been made in typesetting. For example, have a look at the bad image quality an average word processor delivers in the figure below. The left page has been output from LibreOffice and shows very clearly a lot of space between words, so-called rivers of whitespace. Compare this to the right page that is output from LaTeX. Of course, one can put a lot of effort in letting Word produce nice pages. But real typography cannot be achieved using word processing software, unfortunately.
Lots of people have used LaTeX in many projects before you did. These projects vary from classical texts and technical scientific texts to music books, braille writings, knitting patterns and catalogues. Enthusiastic people have offered these specific applications of LaTeX for free. You can take advantage of these templates and LaTeX packages, while adjusting them for your own use.