# LaTeX, an introduction

LaTeX (pronounced lay-tech) is a document preparation system providing high quality typesetting, using the WYSIWYM ideology. Based on Donald E. Knuths TeX typesetting language, LaTeX was developed in 1985 by Leslie Lamport and has become a staple in areas such as academia. It has also been found to be the required text processing language for many periodicals.

1. Focuses the author on the content not presentation, separation of concerns
2. Handles complex mathematical equations with great ease
3. Scalable vector graphic (.svg) rendering
4. Professional font handling/kerning
6. Platform/application agnostic - due to using plain text files

One key aspect that must be stressed is that LaTeX is not a word processor, but rather a markup language - which may make it more appealing to developers. This means that it doesn’t require any mandatory software to be created or modified. All complying documents are plain text files (.tex) which can be handled by any plain text editor (such as VIM, Emacs). These markup text files can then be processed using LaTeX into many formats, such as device output files (.dvi) or Adobe portable documents (.pdf).

## Installation

There are installation packages available for all major platforms. If you are using OSX an installer can be found at MacTex - also bundling TeXShop, which I have found to be great for quick experiments. Users on the Windows platform can head to proTeXt which follows a similar simple installation process as its Mac variant.

A screenshot of TeXShop in action

## Basics

Creating a simple LaTeX document could not be any simpler. Similar to how you have to structure a HTML document, a basic LaTeX structure is required.

In a few lines we are able to create a document which can be easily processed using LaTeX into a variety of formats. The first line is used to tell LaTeX how to format the document (heading, spacing, etc.). There are many different document formats available to you, ranging from minimal to book - though further explanation is a beyond an introductory article. The final block of required markup is the document contents.

Finally, to generate the sample document as a PDF article the simple line above must be executed in the terminal. The resulting PDF from running this command is available here.