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LaTeX Guide

Information to help you get started with LaTeX.

LaTex Guide-Introduction

What is LaTeX? Why use it?

LaTeX is a tool to help format scientific papers in preparation for submitting them for publication. Its strength is formatting mathematical formulas, tables, and figures. It's referred to as a "markup language", meaning you tag portions of your text, labeling them as certain categories, like "title" or "author" for LaTeX. Then, a program that can read that language interprets those tags however it is told to.

Using a markup language to format academic papers is a great help to you and to the various entities that might publish your paper. Instead of having to spend the time formatting a paper to match a journal's or conference's style (and worry if you're getting it right!), you just tag your text in LaTeX and use a "style file" provided by the publisher or association when you compile the document. The style file will contain all the information necessary to make sure that whatever you tagged "title," for instance, looks just how a title should look in the required style. Download a new style file from a different publisher or association, recompile the document, and there you go: a whole new look for your document!

For example, here's a snippet of a LaTeX paper, compiled with two different style files.

\title{ {sc Rewarding lab rats with better cheese} The case for stilton over cheddar}

\author{ {sc George I. Squeak } and {sc Tom D. Ratt } }

\date{September 26, 2010}




Previous research has used crummy rewards for lab rats. We will present the case for using better cheese to appeal to rodent gourmands, thereby increasing rat performance.


\noindent{\bf Keywords: } {\it cheese, rats, stilton, cheddar }


Over the years, scientists have provided numerous rewards for lab rats during testing. Most of these rewards, however, have not been up to the standards of the more worldly, well-traveled rat typically desired as a research colleague. While the case has been made for inexpensive rewards, facilitating buying in bulk, we maintain that a higher quality of cheese offered will result in a higher quality rodent research assistant applicant pool, as well as higher rat work output and overall experiment response quality.