Some suggestions for getting started with Latex

Here you will find a starter template, and some other suggestions. I also maintain a page of simple TikZ demos and a git repository with more advanced latex tips (details on that below).

If you don't know what Latex is, or don't have it installed on your system, you should start with

Quickstart template

Here is a template you can use to model your first Latex document. It is by no means a comprehensive demonstration of Latex's capabilities, but instead focuses on what you need to know to get your first mathematics document written. It is based on the guide published for REU students at the University of Chicago, with improvements by Anna Marie Bohmann.

Also, Dave Richeson has put together a Latex quick-reference sheet which can be helpful when starting out. You can read his announcement, or just take a look at the files yourself:

Online resources

You will find all manner of La/Tex tips, tutorials, recipes, etc. online. The best way to figure out how to do something with Tex is to ask a search engine directly, but here I'll give a few links that I think are worth browsing through.

  • Detexify: draw a symbol, and this will tell you the Latex command to produce it!
  • TeX.SX: A Stackexchange Q&A site dedicated to tex, Latex, and friends.
  • A large collection of advanced TikZ examples.
  • The Latex Font Catalogue: Information about available fonts, and how to use them.

Further suggestions

After a while, you'll start wanting more from Latex. Here are some recommendations:

  • Take a browse through articles on "Latex best practices" or "common Latex mistakes". Avoiding subtle mistakes in your input will make your output even better! Here are a couple to get you started: Martin Osborne's list of common input errors and Style and Common Latex Mistakes by W.H.K. Bester.
  • hyperref: Hyperlinks in your document.
  • geometry: Flexible and complete interface to document dimensions.
  • cleveref: Automatically puts the word "Theorem" or "Definition" or whatever in front of a cross reference. Supports multiple references such as "Theorems 1,3 -- 5, and Definition 2", and works (for me) better than other packages with similar aims.
  • todonotes: You're going to want some way to make marginal comments, and this is a great way to do it. Especially useful if you're collaborating on a document.
  • TeX4ht: Compile your tex file into html and pdf formats simultaneously. There are a few systems for this, but I think this is the most full-featured and flexible; I use it for my CV. It's tricky to learn, but worth it!
  • MathJax: This isn't a Latex package; it's a javascript library for using Latex markup to generate math on webpages. Still worth mentioning here.


If you want to see how I use all of these things, and more, take a look at my latex_starter repository on Gitlab. The top-level files are the basic ones above, and the advanced subdirectory demonstrates all of the improvements I've learned about over the years.

tags: tex

Site Info

icon CCicon BYicon NC The content of is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.