From the Inside Flap
A new edition to A Guide to LaTeX begs the fundamental question: Has LaTeX changed so much since the appearance of the third edition in 1999 that a new release of this book is justified?
The simple answer to that question is 'Well,. . . .' In 1994, the LaTeX world was in upheaval with the issue of the new version LaTeX2ε, and the second edition of the Guide came out just then to act as the bridge between the old and new versions. By 1998, the initial teething problems had been worked out and corrected through semiannual releases, and the third edition could describe an established, working system. However, homage was still paid to the older 2.09 version since many users still employed its familiar syntax, although they were most likely to be using it in a LaTeX2ε environment. LaTeX has now reached a degree of stability that since 2000 the regular updates have been reduced to annual events, which often appear months after the nominal date, something that does not worry anyone. The old version 2.09 is obsolete and should no longer play any role in such a book. In this fourth edition, it is reduced to an appendix just to document its syntax and usage.
But if LaTeX itself has not changed substantially since 1999, many of its peripherals have. The rise of programs such as pdfTeX and dvipdfm for PDF output adds new possibilities, which are realized, not in LaTeX directly, but by means of more modern packages to extend the basic features. The distribution of TeX/LaTeX installations has changed, such that most users are given a complete, ready-to-run setup, with all the 'extras' that previously had to be obtained separately. Those extras include user-contributed packages, many of which are now considered indispensable. Today 'the LaTeX system' includes much more than the basic kernel by Leslie Lamport, encompassing the contributions of hundreds of other people. This edition reflects this increase in breadth.
The changes to the fourth edition are mainly those of emphasis.
- The material has been reorganized into 'Basics' and 'Beyond the Basics' ('advanced' sounds too intimidating) while the appendices contain topics that can be skipped by most everyday users. One exception: Appendix G is an alphabetized command summary that many people find extremely useful (including ourselves).
This reorganizing is meant to stress certain aspects over others. For example, the section on graphics inclusion and color was originally treated as an exotic extra, relegated to an appendix on extensions; in the third edition, it was moved up to be included in a front chapter along with the picture environment and floats; now it dominates Chapter 8 all on its own, the floats come in the following Chapter 9, and picture is banished to the later Chapter 16. This is not to say that the picture features are no good, but only that they are very specialized. We add descriptions of additional drawing possibilities there too.
- It is stressed as much as possible that LaTeX is a markup language, with separation of content and form. Typographical settings should be placed in the preamble, while the body contains only logical markup. This is in keeping with the modern ideas of XML, where form and content are radically segregated.
- Throughout this edition, contributed packages are explained at the point in the text where they are most relevant. The fancyhdr package comes in the section on page styles, natbib where literature citations are explained. This stresses that these 'extensions' are part of the LaTeX system as a whole. However, to remind users that they must still be explicitly loaded, a marginal note is placed at the start of their descriptions.
- PDF output is taken for granted throughout the book, in addition to the classical DVI format. This means that the added possibilities of pdfTeX and dvipdfm are explained where they are relevant. A separate Chapter 13 on PostScript and PDF is still necessary, and the hyperref package, the best interface for PDF output with all its bells and whistles, is explained in detail. PDF is also included in Chapter 17 on presentation material.
On the other hand, the other Web output formats, HTML and XML, are only dealt with briefly in Appendix E, since these are large topics treated in other books, most noticeably the LaTeX Web Companion.
- This book is being distributed with a modified version of one of the CDs from the TeX Live set. It contains a full TeX and LaTeX installation for Windows, Macintosh OSX, and Linux, plus many of the myriad extensions that exist. We once again express our hope that this Guide will prove more than useful to all those who wish to find their way through the intricate world of LaTeX. And with the addition of the included TeX Live CD, that world is brought even closer to their doorsteps.
Helmut Kopka and Patrick W. Daly
From the Back Cover
LaTeX is the text-preparation system of choice for scientists and academics, and is especially useful for typesetting technical materials. This popular book shows you how to begin using LaTeX to create high-quality documents. The book also serves as a handy reference for all LaTeX users. In this completely revised edition, the authors cover the LaTeX2ε standard and offer more details, examples, exercises, tips, and tricks. They go beyond the core installation to describe the key contributed packages that have become essential to LaTeX processing.
Inside, you will find:
- Complete coverage of LaTeX fundamentals, including how to input text, symbols, and mathematics; how to produce lists and tables; how to include graphics and color; and how to organize and customize documents
- Discussion of more advanced concepts such as bibliographical databases and BIBTeX, math extensions with AMS-LaTeX, drawing, slides, and letters
- Helpful appendices on installation, error messages, creating packages, using LaTeX with HTML and XML, and fonts
- An extensive alphabetized listing of commands and their uses
New to this edition:
- More emphasis on LaTeX as a markup language that separates content and form--consistent with the essence of XML
- Detailed discussions of contributed packages alongside relevant standard topics
- In-depth information on PDF output, including extensive coverage of how to use the hyperref package to create links, bookmarks, and active buttons
As did the three best-selling editions that preceded it, Guide to LaTeX, Fourth Edition, will prove indispensable to anyone wishing to gain the benefits of LaTeX.
The accompanying CD-ROM is part of the TeX Live set distributed by TeX Users Groups, containing a full LaTeX installation for Windows, MacOSX, and Linux, as well as many extensions, including those discussed in the book.