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What led you to TeX and LaTeX (stackexchange.com)
41 points by idle on May 4, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments

I started using LaTeX because it just looked great for writing papers, but my "latex is awesome" story is different:

A few months ago I needed a letterhead for my company. I designed one in InDesign which looked nice, but it weighed just over 5 MB, and I wasn't prepared to store and sync 5 MB of the same file just to change 1 KB of text each time.

So, after one or two days of frustration, I managed to convert it to LaTeX. It looked the same, pixel-for-pixel (except I made some small changes afterwards), and it was much easier to write:


Basically, the above is just a few \sections and a \tabularx environment. The minimal document is:


    \title{Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet}


    \section{Lorem ipsum dolor}
    \subsection{Dolor sit amet}

     Vivamus consectetur enim a leo luctus vitae
    aliquam nisi volutpat. Proin nec mauris tellus, ac venenatis purus. 

I'm very proud of that letterhead.

I started using LaTeX after I adopted Emacs as my default text editor. This was my research path: info -> Texinfo -> LaTeX -> XeLaTeX.

Now I use the swiss-knife Memoir class for nearly everything and I have understood the importance of beautiful typesetting.

Worth reading:

http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/info/memdesign (the memoir manual of style)

The Elements of Typographic Style, Robert Bringhurst (the bible)

I use XeLaTeX also, it just seems better than the others and the system font support is not too shabby either.

I was the sole user of LaTeX in my class of M.S.E.E. students in grad school.

It was like a well-kept secret; someone years ago had written the thesis template for an older version of LaTeX. Because my thesis included a number of mathematical formulas and equations and I hated the MS Word formula editor, and because my thesis advisor used LaTeX to write exams and had a few books on it, I chose to do my thesis in LaTeX instead of Word.

This meant updating the old template to work with a modern version of LaTeX, which took me about a week. After that it was pretty smooth sailing, and when I found I could include encapsulated Postscript output directly from GnuPlot for graphs, I was very happy. The output looked much better than anything Word would have produced.

So my thesis advisor has a copy of the source code to my thesis for the next person who comes along and wants to use LaTeX. I wonder how long that will be...

I use LaTeX since I started grad school, so writing papers was the main motivation. I wonder how some people still write anything with equations using Word. I would use LaTeX exclusively, if wasn't for job requirements.

I started using LaTeX heavily because of the advantages--why else would I use it? My experience is much like "Bran the Blessed" on the posting--I love using vim, git, not dealing with the quirks of GUI editors like anytime I have to make a list--only I started in high school but didn't really pick it up until I had to write weekly papers for a college course a year ago.

And interestingly the more I use it, the more I use it. That is, now that I have a base of essays, math homeworks, and research papers, I can usually just copy from one of those as a template for whatever I'm doing and don't have to look up how to do things over and over.

I came to LaTeX from LyX, years of frustration with the office metaphor evaporated in seconds. I have more fun writing a presentation in beamer (http://ftp.snt.utwente.nl/pub/software/tex/help/Catalogue/en...) than I could've ever imagined possible in the various presentation tools

I haven't used a word processor in 2+ years (last time, APress wanted Word compatible files so I used Pages, which was sort of OK). I have switched to the super lightweight TextEdit (styled text mode) for short design notes, etc. I use Google Documents a lot (and about once a week automatically export everything to my laptop). LaTex is my preferred system for writing books and long project documents.

I started to pay attention to how much time I spent futzing around with formatting, etc. using Word, Pages, and OpenOffice and decided a long time ago to really learn to use Latex. BTW, although I do like TeXShop (for OS X) for editing, I like to set up plain old Makefiles to generate multiple formats, run scripts to annotate output HTML with advertisements, etc. Another setup I used for my last Java book was to edit Latex from inside Eclipse with a project for the book's Java examples; combined with Mylin that was a nice setup for that specific project.

I used LaTeX when writing papers for my PHD thesis. After that, I haven't really touched it. It is great for scientific books and papers (especially the $math$ is superb), but it is just too complicated for the usually simple documents I write. These days I prefer RestructuredText, Markdown.

LaTeX was part of a class I had to take in my freshman year of college.

This makes me feel even older than usual. See, it was a little different back then. You didn't run LaTeX and immediately look at the output in Ghostview or some other tool to see how it looked. I had to submit a batch job then wait up to 15 minutes for an operator to pull my print job off the big Xerox laser printer so I could see what it looked like.

I didn't have a lot of options to compare it to at the time. MacWrite and Microsoft Word for the Mac were the only WYSIWYG word processors available to me and those took fighting for time on a rare Mac in a campus lab.

I'm glad things changed by the time I got to grad school.

I recently co-authored a book for a major tech publisher. They formatted it using -- I kid you not -- MS Word.

The late stages of the editing process (where I was working with the publisher's .doc files instead of just sending them text) were so painful that I vowed to learn Tex and/or LaTeX before helping my mother self-publish her upcoming quilting book.

I attempted to use LaTeX when I was in college but the school required Word documents so they could load them into software that detects cheating. Now I'm a coder so I rarely write except for documentation. I'd love to use LaTeX again but don't have a reason, really. I could for a resume but Google Docs is too convenient.

LaTeX Labs allows you to write LaTex and is hosted through Google Docs.


This is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

The school ponied up for some DEC laser printers to supplement, eventually replace, the daisy wheel printers, and the output both looked great (despite the DEC output being relatively "fuzzy" [1]) and allowed for foreign characters.

Knuth's book on TeX was a very enjoyable read.

[1] IIRC, the Math Dept. eventually acquired an Apple LaserWriter or two, and if you pushed the output there, the lines looked significantly cleaner.

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