LaTeX, MS Word, asking questions, LyX (was Re: [OS X TeX] 1/2" margins)

Claus Gerhardt gerhardt at
Fri Oct 13 21:24:53 CEST 2006

Well, my mails aren't the Quran, you have to understand every phrase  
literally. Occasionally, I appreciate a little dosis of irony.


On Oct 13, 2006, at 20:39, Paul Smyth wrote:

> Unfortunately, we don't all have a month to spend just figuring out  
> how to do something as basic as set the margins on a document. TeX  
> is great, I love it and use it daily, but it is frustrating and  
> time consuming having to go hunting for information every time you  
> need to do something new. Surely improving that situation would  
> benefit everyone.
> Paul Smyth
> Ireland
> On 13 Oct 2006, at 13:10, Claus Gerhardt wrote:
>> I have to defend latex (tex). The basics of  latex are not hard to  
>> learn: after two weeks of reading George Grätzer's "Math into  
>> Latex" and some typing, one should be able to write (=type) a  
>> paper. That stage I would describe as using latex light.
>> After a month one should be able to  set the margins to 1/2in by  
>> looking in the Latex Companion, look up margin in the index.
>> Over time one will mature, and someone like me is going to use  
>> latex standard, which offers brilliant typesetting with ease. If  
>> in the future I should want to accomplish something that my  
>> current knowledge of latex doesn't allow me to do, I am pretty  
>> sure that a look in the Latex Companion, Googling, reading  
>> manuals, trial and error, or, as a last resort, asking this list  
>> will give me the necessary answers.
>> If people, especially math students, have unsurmountable  
>> difficulties with latex, then they probably have more severe  
>> problems which are unrelated to latex.
>> Claus
>> On 13.10.2006, at 13:44, Themis Matsoukas wrote:
>>> Yes, "just" a more organized world. You could say that this  
>>> organization is merely a convenience, as most of us have been  
>>> surviving without it, given that all necessary pieces are  
>>> available. But if a user has to spend a day talking to lists to  
>>> find out how to change the margins to 1/2 in, one must also admit  
>>> that some organization might in fact be useful.
>>> The limiting factor, of course, is that the latex project is a  
>>> volunteer effort and one cannot demand more from those who make  
>>> it happen: its free, has excellent support, and works  
>>> beautifully. Still, echoing Bruno's dream, I wonder how long will  
>>> latex survive in the future (say, in 25-50 years from now)  
>>> without some softening of its edges. After all,  the new  
>>> generation of college students has hardly any exposure to  
>>> programing, which is a prerequisite for understanding why latex  
>>> does things the way it does.
>>> Themis
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