# [texhax] What program can I use to edit TeX files?

Thomas Schneider schneidt at mail.nih.gov
Thu Mar 21 17:53:11 CET 2013

Steven:

> I thought I could just work on the TeX files in Word, treating them
> as ASCII files, but the publisher wants me to edit the actual TeX
> files and send them back to them as edited TeX files, not as ASCII
> files.

TeX is in ASCII already.  The files could be '.txt' but are normally
labeled '.tex'.

> Could you please tell me what program I should obtain and install to
> do this kind of work?

As others have said, any text editor will work as long as you save it
back as text.  We can have religious wars about which editor or
environment is best.  If you have Unix you (Linux or Mac, maybe
cygwin) will have a vast array of free tools available.

If you use an environment built for TeX or LaTeX you can get automatic
typesetting but at the price of being forced to use their editor.

I use vim (visual editor improved) which is usually available on unix
systems.  (See: http://alum.mit.edu/www/toms/vim.html .)  The reason I
use this editor is that it is extremely efficient for making changes
quickly.  I'm editing this email using vim and I'm not touching my
mouse at all, which means I keep my fingers on my keyboard and zip
through the typing and changes.

When working with LaTeX I automate my work using atchange
(http://alum.mit.edu/www/toms/atchange.html) so I don't like
environments that force poorly designed editors (ie anything other
than vim!) on me which make me use the mouse.  Once atchange is set up
to watch the text file and run the appropriate programs, I can just
type a comma ',' to get the typeset pdf while keeping my fingers on
the keyboard all the time.

> I don't really need to be be able to run TeX/LaTeX as a typesetting
> program. I just need to be able to edit the native files.

Unless you are careful to avoid commands (they will look like
\command{stuff}) this may not be a good idea since you could mess up
the file and make it hard for the author to correct it.  It would be
best to set up an environment which runs and typesets the file so that

Tom

Thomas D. Schneider, Ph.D.
Senior Investigator
National Institutes of Health
National Cancer Institute
Center for Cancer Research
Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory
Molecular Information Theory Group
Frederick, Maryland  21702-1201
schneidt at mail.nih.gov
http://alum.mit.edu/www/toms