[OS X TeX] TeXbook (was Re: [XeTeX] documentation on programming language (in macros)?)

Andrei Sobolevskii ansobol at mac.com
Mon Feb 28 16:04:18 CET 2005


At 20:00 -0500 02/26/2005, TeX on Mac OS X Mailing List wrote:
>  > Is this TeX, documented in Knuth's TeXbook? If so, I'll purchase it
>  > right away.
>The TeXbook is the definitive source of information on TeX. Be warned:
>it's not easy to learn: IMHO it's written more with quality of writing
>(= quality of prose) than efficiency in mind. Everything's there, and
>enjoyable to read, but generally it's difficult to find out where to
>look for a specific piece of information. You need to make heavy use of
>the index, and generally you need to have first read the book once,
>without understanding much, and then upon successive re-readings you
>manage to find your way through it.

Yes, you'd rather have Knuth's TeXbook, even if you will not be 
reading it daily.  I also found the following book quite helpful as a 
clear explanation of plain TeX internals and subtleties:

David Salomon
The advanced TeXbook
Springer-Verlag, 1995

The LaTeX Companion is certainly a must for anybody doing heavy LaTeX 
typesetting.  It's the most worn out book on my TeX shelf (including 
also Salomon's book and, in Russian translations, Knuth's TeXbook, 
Spivak's The Joy of TeX, The LaTeX Web Companion, The LaTeX Graphics 
Companion, and a Russian analogue of Lamport's book -- which has 
never been translated into Russian itself -- L'vovskii's The LaTeX 
Typestiing System).

The LaTeX Web Companion is rather useful (its chapters on hyperref, 
LaTeX2html and TeX4ht were quite helpful for me).  The LaTeX Graphics 
Companion has a useful chapter on graphics and graphicx packages. 
However these books are mostly a compilation of the original 
documentation coming with the packages (with some examples added), 
and I second Bruno's recommendation to look into .dtx and if 
necessary .sty files.

The LaTeX Companion is also of the compilation kind, but what makes 
it outstanding is the choice of material  -- having all that printed 
under one cover is much more convenient that looking for 
documentation in your texmf trees.

People say that Kopka and Daly is a very good source on LaTeX that 
can replace Lamport's book, but I never checked that.


At 20:00 -0500 02/26/2005, TeX on Mac OS X Mailing List wrote:
>Alternative sources of information:
>- TeX by Topic (donationware) <http://www.eijkhout.net/tbt/>: very
>thorough and technical, the same information as in the TeXbook but
>presented more like a software manual.
>- A Gentle Introduction to TeX (free)
><http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/info/gentle/gentle.pdf>: plain TeX for
>the beginners.
>- TeX for the Impatient (GPL) at
>/Library/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/doc/plain/impatient/impatient.dvi and
>also <http://www.tug.org/ftp/tex/impatient/> (there's a French
>translation too at this site): another technical introduction to the
>inner workings of plain TeX, but more oriented towards a specific
>extension called Eplain (plain TeX + some functions of LaTeX like
>counters and cross-referencing - LaTeX taking over the presentation of
>your document), written specifically for this book.
>The problem is all these sources only document plain TeX, the original
>TeX format, and none of the functionalities added by LaTeX and the
>various LaTeX packages like graphicx. TeX itself knows nothing about
>graphics, multimedia contents, etc., it was written before these things
>came into widespread use.
>For these packages, the only source of information is the documented
>code, in the form of accompanying .dtx files, not included inside gwTeX
>but available from CTAN or the TeX-Live CDs. Sometimes, too, these
>files don't even exist; in that case the only solution is look at the
>code inside the .sty files, and try to figure out what it does.
>You may also try the LaTeX Companion 2nd edition (I've not got it yet),
>it might tell more on these things.


Associate Professor
Physics Department,
Moscow State University
Visiting Scientist
Laboratoire Cassiopee,
Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur
ansobol at obs-nice.fr
--------------------- Info ---------------------
Mac-TeX Website: http://www.esm.psu.edu/mac-tex/
           & FAQ: http://latex.yauh.de/faq/
TeX FAQ: http://www.tex.ac.uk/faq
List Post: <mailto:MacOSX-TeX at email.esm.psu.edu>

More information about the macostex-archives mailing list