[texhax] syllabus (fwd)

tom sgouros tomfool at as220.org
Fri Oct 1 14:57:53 CEST 2004

I'm not sure the original question has been answered well.

How about just to say that TeX is all about putting letters on pages
and LaTeX is all about putting paragraphs into documents?  

TeX is designed to make typesetting work well.  It knows how to
justify a paragraph and set an equation, but that's about as
high-level as it gets.  You don't ask for a heading in TeX, you just
make the type bigger or bold.

LaTeX is designed to help structure documents, by making its markup
"functional", which is to say you mark the function of a piece of
text: it's a section heading, a marginal note, a list element, or
whatever.  In a separate place (class definitions like article.cls or
style files like times.sty) there are definitions of what these
elements are to look like.  This is the essential insight of the
design of HTML and XML, too, though LaTeX predates them.

In other words, if you want to write articles, and spend time on their
content instead of their look, use LaTeX.  If you want to change the
look dramatically, you can do it by hacking together new LaTeX styles,
which can easily be based on old ones, with modifications.  For doing
this, it helps to know a little TeX.

As far as overhead goes, the choice can make a difference, that is if
you care that your document processes in two seconds instead of three.


 tomfool at as220 dot org

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