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Ask Nelly:
     What are the differences among MiKTeX, ProTeXt, and LaTeX?
     How do I add change bars?

The Editors


Ask Nelly is a question and answer column. Nelly is the quiet person who sits at the back corner desk, who knows a lot, and when asked any question is always ready with a patient answer. If Nelly doesn't know the answer, Nelly will know an expert who has the answer. Feel free to Ask Nelly about any aspect of LaTeX, TeX, Context, etc.


Q: Dear Nelly: This is my first contact to the TeX World and I cannot understand what is the difference among MiKTeX, ProTeXt, LaTeX. Can you help me?

A: MiKTeX is a distribution of TeX including the basic TeX typesetting engine plus many other things. There are other commercial and free distributions of TeX, each containing many of the same things (including LaTeX) and a some distinguishing things.

ProTeXt is the MiKTeX distribution plus a nice PDF guide of the installation procedure plus a couple of editor options that are not part of the MiKTeX distribution.

LaTeX is a set of TeX macros (commands) (such a set is called a "format" in the TeX world) that makes a particular set of assumptions about what a book, report, letter, etc., look like; many people find LaTeX more appropriate to use than the "plain TeX" format of the basic underlying TeX typesetting engine; LaTeX also has provisions for modifying many of these LaTeX assumptions.

The MiKTeX distribution also comes with other alternatives to the LaTeX format (modifications to LaTeX or built directly on basic TeX) that offer different starting assumptions about what various documents look like and the level of detail the user wants to give commands to TeX.

The above question was answered by Dave Walden, a member of the editorial board of this journal.


Q: Dear Nelly: Have you covered how to add vertical lines to the margins to indicate areas of change, editing, revision, etc. In resubmitting grants I need to tell the reviewers what areas have changes. I don't want to italicize, bold, or underline the text.

A: The changebar package described on pages 189-191 of the second edition of The LaTeX Companion may help you (I always go to the index of this book first when looking for a new capability). Having found the package in the book, I also found (by putting \RequirePackage{changebar} in the preamble of a document and trying to compile the document) that the changebar package is already included in the ProTeXt distribution of TeX that I use; thus I assume many or most other distributions also include it. I then also found a document on the changebar package already in my computer by doing a search of my \texmf file hierarchy for "changebar"; it found changebar.dvi among several other files, I clicked on changebar.dvi, and the documentation opened in my previewer window.

You might also look in the FAQ, i.e., at

The above question also was answered by Dave Walden.


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