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Thread: advantages of a latex editor

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    advantages of a latex editor

    What are the advantages of a latex editor as opposed to using microsoft word/equation editor? I know it makes you documents more professional looking, but does it have the same capabilities, if not more, as equation editor when it comes to inserting equations/mathematical information in my papers. And how does it handle inserting data tables/charts/images? Finally, when people say a latex editor makes a document more professional, can it format a document in a variety of publishing styles, such as ACS, MLA, etc? Or is it restricted to just one particular layout?

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    Re: advantages of a latex editor

    Yes to all questions, but not necessarily the editor itself does that.

    A LaTeX editor it tries to assist you in as much as you need to memorize less commands. Say you want to insert the symbol φ into an equation, in Word and in the Latex editor you can click the φ button, but if you know the command is \phi you can simply enter it and continue typing without taking your hands off the keyboard.
    The same is true for more complex constructs. The Latex editor will for instance assist you in adding figures by inserting all the boilerplate markup text necessary for this. But in principle you could do away with a special Latex editor and use a simple plain text editor.

    This would be the instruction to insert a graphic into a floated figure, i.e., it would be placed with some whitespace in the corner of a page, independent of the surrounding text, like e.g. in a journal.
    Code:
    \begin{figure}
    	\centering
    	\includegraphics{image.jpeg}
    	\caption{An example figure}
    	\label{fig:the-example}
    \end{figure}

    The crucial difference between Word and Latex is that TeX, the actual engine, devotes a lot more thought on how the elements in your document will be layouted. This additional computation goes from small scale things, like how high to place numerator in a fraction and calculate its surrounding spacing, to large scale things, like how it distributes words into lines and paragraphs, how much text to fit on a page, where to dynamically float the figures so that a typographically optimal page layout is achieved.
    In Word things have to be reasonably quick, because the image of the page is calculated and refreshed after every keystroke. So it compromises on a lot of quality aspects. In Latex this is not necessary because the real typesetting is only done when the user thinks it is time to check the final output.

    Latex has a lot more advantages for scientific writing. It handles cross-references, citations and bibliographies, TOCs, tables and figures and more in a clean, explicit, and consistent manner. Not necessarily without some effort (you have to learn how to do it), but a lot less pain once you master it.

    There are a multitude of templates for all fields and styles, in addition to many packages that do some very specific small things. One can get lost in this wealth of information in the beginning, but TeX is more than 30 years old and many people have used and contributed to it.
    Last edited by hugmenot; June 24th, 2008 at 10:13 PM.

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    Re: advantages of a latex editor

    also latex can be used to create web pages and presentations. you want to use latex2pdf for creating a thesis or paper, latex2pdf (using the beamer class) again for presentations, and latex2html for html content. those are the actual commands and if you have them installed, they'll read any .tex file and make it look really good at the end.

    presentations look really good in latex's beamer class and they're really customizable. there's really no comparison between latex's equations and anything on MS.

    there's even a way to write music on latex. what i'm trying to say is that you can essentially use latex as your default starting point, no matter what you're producing in the end. hope this helps.

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    Re: advantages of a latex editor

    Err, no. Wrong

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    Re: advantages of a latex editor

    Quote Originally Posted by hugmenot View Post
    Err, no. Wrong

    wow what a childish reply. a simple correction saying "no it's actually pdflatex and not latex2pdf" would have shown people how intelligent you are, and not how much you have to learn.

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    Re: advantages of a latex editor

    LaTeX handles very large files (think dissertations) much better than MS Word. Try inserting a couple of pages worth of equations or images in Word and you will notice a significant reduction in performance and very likely end up crashing it once it becomes too large. Since LaTeX is text based, it takes almost no toll on your system while you are writing. Also, large files can be broken down into smaller files and input into a main file.

    As far as graphics go, LaTeX will place the images where you tell it to, unlike MS Word, which has the nasty habit of moving your images around at its convenience. Also, LaTex's ability to set vector graphics in the document lets you keep high quality graphics at any resolution or scale, given that your original image is of high enough quality; however, MS Word will reduce the quality of most images you paste into a document or scale inside a document.

    Finally, many publishing entities have developed their style sheets which will format your document to their liking as long as you follow certain rules while creating it. That way you can have several different output formats for a document with minimal effort.

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    Re: advantages of a latex editor

    Quote Originally Posted by rajan View Post
    wow what a childish reply. a simple correction saying "no it's actually pdflatex and not latex2pdf" would have shown people how intelligent you are, and not how much you have to learn.
    Please don’t make a fuss about this petitesse. I’m short in indulgence because the level of noise on this forum is so unbelievably high. Nothing personal. okay?

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    Re: advantages of a latex editor

    Thanks everyone for all the replies. They were certainly helpful as I think I will invest some time in learning latex. I was just wondering, what latex editor do you guys recommend or currently use?

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    Re: advantages of a latex editor

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeldaFan View Post
    Thanks everyone for all the replies. They were certainly helpful as I think I will invest some time in learning latex. I was just wondering, what latex editor do you guys recommend or currently use?
    a friend of mine is writing he's master thesis all in latex... engineering stuff, so a lot of diagrams and formulas

    he is using texmaker (in repos), which is quite good

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    Re: advantages of a latex editor

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeldaFan View Post
    Thanks everyone for all the replies. They were certainly helpful as I think I will invest some time in learning latex. I was just wondering, what latex editor do you guys recommend or currently use?
    I use Emacs with auctex, which gives you a nice preview. If you don't like emacs then I recommend using Kile.

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