[OS X TeX] Imposing Latex on authors of articles

François Chaplais francois.chaplais at ensmp.fr
Tue Feb 26 17:34:29 CET 2008

Le 26 févr. 08 à 15:58, ludwik kowalski a écrit :

> I am a new subscriber. About a week ago I successfully downloaded  
> and installed Latex software on my new iMac.  Then I started to  
> learn how to program in Latex language. So far I complied only  
> several short input files. What follows is an extract from notes I  
> am composing for myself. Do you agree with my observations? If not  
> then why not?
> Thanks in advance,
> Ludwik
> = = = = = = = = = = = =
> Item 15
>  $ \int \sqrt{\alpha^{2} + x^{2}}\,dx $
> The above command will produce the integral sign followed by the  
> square root and the dx. The expression between the square brackets  
> will be changed and placed under the square root.
> 1) Typing something without seeing the representation at the same  
> time (as in writing by hand or with a word processor) seems  
> unnatural to me. Writing usually goes along with thinking; we often  
> think better when we write. There is nothing wrong with this. It  
> would probably be better not to merge the process of typesetting  
> with the process of mathematical thinking. Mental energy of users  
> of mathematics should be used on mathematics itself, not on nitty- 
> gritty rules, commands, and error messages. By learning Latex  
> language one does not become a better mathematician, physicist or  
> engineer.
> 2) In my opinion dissertations written with word processors should  
> be accepted by universities. Likewise, papers written with word  
> processors should be accepted by editors of scientific journals.  
> Neatly handwritten formulas, or formulas composed with tools  
> available in word processors, are usually sufficient to communicate  
> mathematical ideas. They can be shown as illustrations, or turned  
> into final form by professional typesetters, either manually (as it  
> used to be), or with tools like Latex. Shifting the burden on  
> authors does not seem reasonable.
> 3) Creating Latex input files with formulas is very demanding and  
> error-prone. Promoters of Latex often write that it allows  
> mathematicians to concentrate on mathematics while formatting is  
> performed by computers. Yes, formatting is performed by computers  
> but computers must be instructed by humans. Instructing computers  
> is demanding and error-prone. Composing Latex files does not help  
> me to think about mathematics, or about anything else described in  
> a document I am creating. On the contrary, it prevents me from  
> thinking about the content.

my 2 cents:

get yourself a good LaTeX text source editor (I use Alpha, but you  
may use TeXShop or others). Instead of learning the language, learn  
the shortcuts for the macros which you find most useful. For the  
rest, look at the menus.
And (as far as I am concerned) if all of this does not provide the  
expected result, I read the Excellent original LaTeX book by Leslie  
Lamport, which is marvelously organized.

Trust the editor: its has learned the basics of the language for you.


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