- History
- Variants
- Installing TeX
- No TeX at all
- Reverse LaTeX
- Invocation
- Submitting to Arxiv
- Putting dates in drafts
- Spacing
- long documents
- Death-or-define macro
- Symbols, fonts
- Algorithms
- IDs (ORCID, DOI etc)
- Mathematical hacks
- Navigation
- Tables
- Version control
- Diagrams
- Editors
- Citations and bibliographies
- Posters
- Comments, TODOs
- Miscellaneous
- IEEE style specialties

The least worst mathematical typesetting system.
One of the better scoured of the filthy pipes in
academic plumbing.
*De facto* standard for mathematicians, especially those who are not so
impertinent as to insist in writing in non-English languages, or are not so
shallow as gainsay the simple delights in the painstaking handicraft of manually
setting line breaks, or who have grad students who will deal with all that
for free.
That is, a tool which provides comfort for that endangered animal, the Tenured
Academic, and tolerable usefulness for the rest of us.

Other alternatives include

- using MS Word, or
- stabbing your eyeballs with a pencil

… each of which I regard as similarly undesirable as the other, and, to be clear, both *somewhat less* desirable than LaTeX itself.

## History

Standard disclaimer, before diving into the *otaku*-zone TeXonomy:

I am also aware that here I am doing violence to the rich and storied ecosystem by failing to mention that almost everything I mention here is but a macro system built upon Knuth’s OG TeX system. Even that is a crude simplification of the complicated truth that his original system has evolved, reimplemented and mutated in complex and subtle ways. However, this document is not a philological exploration; it is a pragmatic guide to getting documents typeset before key deadlines pass.

Nonetheless some context is occasionally helpful. Eddie Smith, From boiling lead and black art: An essay on the history of mathematical typography; the only thing on this page you might conceivably read for pleasure.

Robert Kosara has an excellent rant:

The tools of the trade for academics and others who write research papers are among the worst software has to offer. Whether it’s writing or citation management, there are countless issues and annoyances. How is it possible that this fairly straightforward category of software is so outdated and awful?

Grad students, Robert, and their low-marginal-cost labour. The same labour undervaluation that keeps slave economies from developing the steam engine, since many problems are easier to solve with more slaves than with improvements to the system.

It does not help that grad student also have underdeveloped software development skills and will never return to remedy the engineering mistakes of their younger selves.

## Variants

There are differences in various different
engines, formats, macro systems etc, giving us
ConTeXT and LaTeX and TeX and pdfTeX and XeTeX and LuaTeX,
and that they are all refreshingly unique in their choices of pain-points,
whether in formatting, interoperation,
character set handling, compatibility,
preferred name capitalisation, or community support.
Here is a more pious take by Graham Douglas,
What’s in a name: a guide to the many flavours of TeX.
For now I will construe *LaTeX* broadly, which is to say “in principle any of these LaTeX-like engines”, which is to say ”in practice any LaTeX engine which is sufficiently similar to the baseline horror to survive the submission process to arxiv.org”.

I am indeed cognisant of the diversity and richness of buffet of failure cases I could choose from, if only in outline. However, standards lock-in being what it is, I will for now avoid arranging the deckchairs of incremental improvement on this sinking ship of legacy mess. If I must innovate, it will be to discretely shuffle over there, to the lifeboats, in which I will wait for some disruptive scholarly version of Markdown to come rescue me from LaTeX enitrely.

## Installing TeX

See LaTeX installation.

## No TeX at all

## Reverse LaTeX

Getting LaTeX code back from screen captures photos of (formatted) equations. Rebekah Yates reports

- You can look things up in the
**Comprehensive LaTeX symbols**list. It can usually be easily accessed with`texdoc symbols`

or`texdoc symbols-a4`

(in MiKTeX the latter only). - Another good option is to try the web-based software
**Detexify**, which allows you to draw the symbol and tries to recognize what you’ve drawn.[…] - If you are using the package
`unicode-math`

, then besides using any Unicode character list, the**list of all supported symbols**(`texdoc unimath-symbols`

) is very useful as it also lists which symbols are available in the various fonts. - Using
`unicode-math`

, you can also search for characters by drawing (just like with detexify) using**ShapeCatcher**.

Frontrunner: Mathpix. They also offer a mathematical notebook, snips.

Or! Leave the machines behind!
Train *yourself* in speed LaTeX transcription via the gamified mathematical typesetting training system TeXnique.

## Invocation

### Run like a normal unix program

Per default TeX runs in an interactive mode which makes usually pointless efforts to solicit your advice about badly explained syntax errors etc. This probably dates to some time in the 80s when users were billed per-command-line-invocation or something, and is utterly contrary to modern expectations.

Normal-unix-halt-on-failure-with-helpful-message:

`pdflatex -interaction=nonstopmode -halt-on-error`

Bloody-minded-compile-my-document-at-all-costs-I-don’t-care-how-it-is-broken:

`pdflatex -interaction=batchmode`

`latexmk`

The tool that makes a best-effort attempt to put assemble the clanking chain of components that turn those text files into documents.
It has various command-line option in the man-page.
Examples of its advanced options are useful though.
`latexmk`

options and nomenclature.
See also the `latexmkrc`

files that it comes with for examples of advanced configuration.

🤓 you can set up latex as an automatically updating dynamical preview, even with synctex, as a poor-man-interactive-editor.

`latexmk -pvc`

### Include in python

Generating arbitrary LaTeX in python scripts, jupyter notebooks, Pweave literate documents? Use an ingenious python script called using latex_fragment to ease your burden and render your latex fragments inline. It was written by that paragon of coding cleanliness, that tireless crusader for not-dicking-around, me.

```
from IPython.display import display_latex, display
import latex_fragment
l = latex_fragment.LatexFragment(r'\(x=y\)')
display(l)
```

Note also that pandoc markdown already includes LaTeX support for LaTeX output.

Other options include inverting this setup, and including python in LaTeX via an executable notebook such as knitr.

## Submitting to Arxiv

## Putting dates in drafts

Certain document classes (all?) have draft modes.

`\documentclass[draft]{article}`

A universal (not document-class-dependent) option was suggested by the Malaysian LaTeX User Group, Putting Dates in Watermarks:

```
\usepackage{draft watermark}
\usepackage{datetime2}
\SetWatermarkLightness{.9}
\SetWatermarkText{Draft\string@\DTMnow}
\SetWatermarkScale{.3}
```

On a minimalist TeX system, this may necessitate

```
tlmgr install draftwatermark everypage \
datetime2 etoolbox tracklang
```

## Spacing

Managing spacing between symbols is the major reason for existence for LaTeX. It is a hard problem, optimising for legibility of symbols on a sheet of paper for all the various sorts who might read it. One must simultaneously solve for the slightly conflicting goal of minimising the number of criticism of grumpy aesthetically-challenged pedantic folk-typographers each of whom has a different and incompatible list of what in their mind are unspeakable crimes against legibility. Thus there are many compromises, tricks, edge-cases and other potholes to get your foot stuck in, especially in mathematical mode.

As far as individual mathematical characters goes, here is a
comprehensive guide to LaTeX mathematical spacing
by Werner.
**tl;dr** if things look weird you can convert a mathematical character to an “ordinal” by wrapping it `{=}`

and add your own manual spacing back in and it will work nicely.

Overleaf’s Spacing in math mode is what I most often need:

```
\begin{align*}
f(x) &= x^2\! +3x\! +2 \\
f(x) &= x^2+3x+2 \\
f(x) &= x^2\, +3x\, +2 \\
f(x) &= x^2\: +3x\: +2 \\
f(x) &= x^2\; +3x\; +2 \\
f(x) &= x^2\ +3x\ +2 \\
f(x) &= x^2\quad +3x\quad +2 \\
f(x) &= x^2\qquad +3x\qquad +2
\end{align*}
```

\[ \begin{align*} f(x) &= x^2\! +3x\! +2 \\ f(x) &= x^2+3x+2 \\ f(x) &= x^2\, +3x\, +2 \\ f(x) &= x^2\: +3x\: +2 \\ f(x) &= x^2\; +3x\; +2 \\ f(x) &= x^2\ +3x\ +2 \\ f(x) &= x^2\quad +3x\quad +2 \\ f(x) &= x^2\qquad +3x\qquad +2 \end{align*} \]

K. Cooper’s LaTeX Spacing Tricks is the guide for almost every type of spacing civilians will need.

To manage justification, a.k.a. text alignment, generally
(Why is everything fully justified per default?
It makes the spacing so ugly, at least to this aesthetically-challenged pedantic folk-typographer)
one needs the `\raggedright`

/`\centering`

etc commands,
or even the `ragged2e`

package.
See the Overleaf documentation and wikibooks.

**PRO-TIP**: `\RaggedRight`

and friends destroy paragraph indentation.
The fix
is to restore the indent:

```
\newlength{\saveparindent}
\setlength{\saveparindent}{\parindent}
\RaggedRight
\setlength{\parindent}{\saveparindent}
```

Or you could do what a *real* typographer would do and put space between paragraphs, which might require some style update.

If you are me, you are probably using RaggedRight spacing to make it easier to proofread and will be reverting to fully justified after the proofreading process, so you can ignore this problem and delete the RaggedRight directive later.

## long documents

`subfiles`

is a handy package for Multi-file LaTeX projects.

`\documentclass[../main.tex]{subfiles}`

## Death-or-define macro

Death-or-define is how I think of the trick to force a macro definition redefinition even if there is no definition to be redefined — handy if I am rendering latex from some tricky source such as jupyter, or where I don’t have control over the overall document outside my section but don’t care about wreaking havoc on my collaborators; some other poor sap can deal with the macro mutations Mwahahaha.

```
\providecommand{\foo}{}
\renewcommand{\foo}[1]{bar: #1}
```

## Symbols, fonts

## Algorithms

Need to explain an algorithm? If you are permitted to list real source code, this is possible via the listings. I have yet to encounter a journal or conference that endorses this however.

Convention dictates explaining an algorithm with pseudocode. This obviates the problem of the uncertain semantics of particular programming languages, by replacing them with the semantics of no programming language at all. There is a confusing profusion of options for doing this and all options are, IMO, inadequate, since none of them allow me to typeset higher order functions naturally, and that is an old, thoroughly mainstream idea that I use a lot. This means, for example, that it is hard to typeset automatic differentiation. But who would need that? Anyway, this is a sub problem which I can awkwardly work around like everyone else.

**tl;dr**: I use

For formatting,

- algorithmicx +
`algpseudocode`

(a nice default syntax that comes with`algorithmicx`

). - Or algorithms which comes with only one syntax, but everyone knows is

- algorithmicx +
inside an

`algorithm`

float.

`algorithmicx`

How this looks:

```
\usepackage{algorithmicx}
\usepackage[noend]{algpseudocode} % skip EndFor etc
\usepackage{algorithm} % custom floats
```

```
\begin{algorithm}
\caption{Euclid’s algorithm}
\label{euclid}
\begin{algorithmic}[1] % The argument is the first line number
\Procedure{Euclid}{\(a,b\)}
\Comment{The g.c.d. of a and b}
\State \(r\gets a \bmod b\) \label{init}
\While{\(r\not=0\)}
\Comment{We have the answer if r is 0}
\State \(a \gets b\)
\State \(b \gets r\)
\State \(r \gets a \bmod b\)
\EndWhile\label{euclidendwhile}
\State \textbf{return} \(b\)
\Comment{The gcd is b}
\EndProcedure
\end{algorithmic}
\end{algorithm}
```

Algorithm line label references look like

`\algref{euclid}{init}`

If I am running minimalist TeX I need

`tlmgr install algorithmicx algorithms`

or I can do without `algorithms`

if I do

```
\usepackage{float}
\newfloat{algorithm}{t}{lop}
```

Or perhaps I wish to typeset real code in a real language? minted enables this, allowing colour-highlighted math-enabled code rendering, bringing to LaTeX documents the conveniences that have been available to everyone else for some decades now.

There are alternatives.

`algorithms`

algorithms provides `algorithmic`

and an
`algorithm`

float, and seems to be fairly common and also fairly
interchangeable with `algorithmicx`

.
The making your own floats does not need a package, but the `algorithmic`

markup is non-trivial.

This seems intermittently maintained but has better reference syntax, in that
referring to a line number just works - `\autoref{alg:euclif:init}`

does what you would expect.
It also seems to be preferred by IEEE.

`algorithm2e`

TBD.

### program

program does pseudocode formatting but with substantively different syntax and styling. It looks nice but I don’t use it as it’s less compatible with the other so the odds of being able to copy and paste are low and copy-and-pasting ancient code snippets is how academia works.

## IDs (ORCID, DOI etc)

Why is this not documented at [`orcid.org`

]](https://orcid.org)? I do not know.

AFAICT, at the basic level you create a hyperlink, e.g.

```
\href{https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6077-2684
}{Dan MacKinlay }
```

But what if I want the fancy logo so that everyone *knows* I cleverly did the ORCID thing?
If I am using some benighted conference
stylesheet from the 90s this is unlikely to work. But for a more modern
situation (e.g. IEEE is usually current) I might be able to get an attractive
green logo.
I made this work with the
academicons package,
which gets the logo via a
custom font.

Then, ORCID, for example, is set up in the preamble:

```
\usepackage{academicons}
\definecolor{orcidlogocol}{HTML}{A6CE39}
```

and in the body

```
\item \href{https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6077-2684
}{Dan MacKinlay \hspace{2mm} \textcolor{orcidlogocol}{\aiOrcid} }
```

Or use the `orcid.pdf`

(converted from `orcid.svg`

):

`\href{https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6077-2684}{\includegraphics[scale=0.06]{orcid.pdf}\hspace{2mm}Dan MacKinlay}`

## Mathematical hacks

### Spacing and line breaking

the breqn package position paper expalins many of the issues here.
However, the solutions that actually work in the javascript-backed LaTeX solutions are `multline`

(nb only one `i`

) and `split`

environments, so in practice I use those.

### Math size

I forget this all the time. Explained by overleaf, Math font size ordering is

```
\displaystyle % Size for equations in display mode
\textstyle % Size for equations in text mode
\scriptstyle % Size for first sub/superscripts
\scriptscriptstyle % Size for subsequent sub/superscripts
```

### Arrays

There is an `array`

environemtn which is good for typsetting equations but it is too verbose for typsetting arrays of other things, like numbers.

Use `amsmath`

matrix for that, e.g.

```
\begin{pmatrix}
1 & 2 & 3\\
a & b & c
\end{pmatrix}
```

### Defining new operators

#### Without Limits

i.e. limits on the side, \({\mathop{\mathrm{sech}}\nolimits}^2 x.\).

Plain style (works everywhere including old MathJax):

`\newcommand{\sech}{\mathop{\mathrm{sech}}\nolimits}`

`amsmath`

style (works in AMSMath environments):

`\DeclareMathOperator{\sech}{sech}`

#### With Limits

i.e. limits underneath \({\mathop{\rm arg\,max}}_{x\to\infty} x\).

Vanilla:

`\newcommand{\sech}{\mathop{\rm sech}\limits}`

`amsmath`

style:

`\DeclareMathOperator*{\argmin}{arg\,min}`

## Tables

## Version control

Tools such as git-latexdiff provide custom diffing for, in this case, LaTeX code in git.

## Diagrams

Getting a diagram into a document?

### SVG

Martin H says, on including SVG in TeX, that the smoothest route is to convert the SVG into PDF+TeX, as per Johan Engelen’s manual:

`inkscape -D -z --file=image.svg --export-pdf=image.pdf --export-latex`

Then invoke using

```
\begin{figure}
\centering
% set width of next svg image:
\def\svgwidth{\columnwidth}
\input{image.pdf_tex}
\end{figure}
```

This can be automated using the svg tex package.

### PFGPlots

PGFPlots is a native diagramming/plotting package which supports PDF output.

See also general diagrams and scientific workbooks.

## Editors

See LaTeX editors.

## Citations and bibliographies

From within LaTeX? See BibTeX etc.

## Posters

`a0poster`

is popular, as expounded by
Morales de Luna,
but I secretly feel that it sounds like a nightmare of legacy postscript
nonsense and doesn’t even look good.
sciposter
is a popular `a0poster`

variant.

`tikzposter`

and `beamerposter`

are both highlighted on
sharelatex
but I cannot find a way of making them seem anything but fugly to me and I cannot condone their use.
It is hard enough to bring beauty into this world without makgint it worse.

## Miscellaneous

- How to take lecture notes with LaTeX.
- git-latexdiff is a a LaTeX-aware diff.

## IEEE style specialties

IEEEtran stylesheets have some special equation formatting noûs.

```
\begin{IEEEeqnarray}{rCl}Z
&=&x_1 + x_2 + x_3 + x_4 + x_5 + x_6
\IEEEnonumber\\
&&+\:a + b%
\end{IEEEeqnarray}
```

## Comments, TODOs

I quite like this one