Anyone familiar with TeX?

Is anyone here familiar with TeX or LaTeX? I am on the path of learning…and I was wondering if there were any helpful resources I should know of. I like to write short stories and thought that TeX could help me with layouts.

Also, how would one go about writing a novel in TeX (as far as setting up the environment for a novel-style layout)?

Help would be much appreciated (btw…i run windows and linux. I have TeX set up on Linux, how do I do the same for windows?)

See here for a list of programs for Windows (and other systems, of course), using LaTeX.

I use it a lot. (like when you start up Word/OpenOffice i start up xemacs/latex).
In order to write a book, (assuming its not a math book) you would just use the book class and then add as little as posible. Later you can adjust some settings, but you focus on content. ie text in chapter 1, not what font to use and what spacing.

So I would strongly recomend leaving everything as default. (except perhaps setting the page to A4 if your not in the US).

Also you sould set it up so you have different files for each chapter. The window tools support this i belive.

BUT be warned its NOT a wysiwyg and you really don’t want to write a book as wysiwyg (aka fonts margins etc), thats a job for typesetters. Oh a lot of publishers will take tex files for there typesetters.


I’ve recently started using tex (to be precise, latex) for the majority of text documents I write. I started using tex a few years ago, and the main reason I now work mostly in tex is because I got annoyed with the way word couldn’t seem to get the formatting for big long lists nestled deep inside each other the way I wanted.

There are many different distributions of tex for windows. One is Miktex, and there are others. If you want to work with tex like you would on Linux, and can afford to download a large amount of stuff, you can try the version on cygwin (that’s the one which I use. Unfortunately, updating is a pain if you’ve partially stuffed up your environment but half-installing things, etc.)

Now, for resources:

  1. Google for TUG or tex users group, CTAN. These are sites where you can find most things tex related.
  2. “A beginners introduction to typesetting with latex” by Peter Flynn
  3. The (Not So) Short Guide to LATEX2e: LATEX2e in 131 Minutes - the one I started off with
  4. Getting Started with TEX, LATEX, and friends - the book/tutorial the author of 2. recommends all beginners should start with

And here is a quick tutorial of all you should need to know for basic things:

An example document

\documentclass[a4paper, 11pt]{article}


% title stuff
	itle{	extbf{\huge MyTitle}}
\author{Your Name Here}
\date{} % this makes no date be printed


   Hello, this is just some text \\
   In general, you can just write text like this, without any headings, sections, what-so-ever. You also don't need to indent your files. It just makes reading easier. \\

   \section{Making a list}
      \item Point number 1

      \item Point number 2

      \item You can also nestle lists
                \item See, you can nestle lists
                \item Items are automatically numbered

   \section{Putting a box around a block of text}
   \begin{minipage}{	extwidth}
        Some stuff you want framed. \\

        Can include lists as well: \\
             \item Here is a point
             \item Here is another point 

a4paper - change to whatever size of paper you want
11pt - size of normal text. i.e. 12pt, 14pt, 20pt
article - you use this style most often. Once you read some of the resources, you will learn about the other types

By the way, be aware that some characters (such as “” ) are used by latex to identify commands.

Hope that helps,

Try Lyx - it allows you to use latex formatting, but also work much more like a word processor.

I used it for my final year project report, and it is mostly very efficient and produces LateX quality results (since it basically is latex).


First, thank you everyone for the great replies. I have enjoyed reading about the resources posted above.

I was able to download and successfully install MiKTeX on my windows system. I couldn’t get LyX installed, but it looks nice.

I have been writing this book in OpenOffice2. I decided it was time to rewrite the beginning of my book. I decided that i wanted to migrate to TeX, b/c i like the feel and look of TeX (i agree, much better formatting of text).

Still tinkering with MiKTeX. On linux I use Kile to do my editing. The basic commands that I have used so far are \chapter and \paragraph (of course with the commands of setting up the environment).

I’ll post back with any questions that I have. Again, thanks for the replies. :slight_smile:

Good to hear that you’ve got it working :slight_smile:


Check out TexNicCenter , it’s an open source windows editor for LaTeX, kind of similar to Kile.

When writing a book I would strongly recommend tiling your work into separate files with the \include{} command.

One step ahead…already have TexnicCenter installed. I narrowed it down to three editors and I like the feel of TexnicCenter best.

I was able to get LyX installed (first download was corrupted), though i’d prefer to learn the TeX system and its commands first before using LyX (btw…i have used LyX before to write academic papers.)

Yep, using the include command too! I was using separate ODT files for each chapter before…so it isn’t that difficult to migrate. :slight_smile:

I am having trouble changing fonts(like between times and arial for extreme example). Does anyone know how to change fonts. I want to set certain blocks of text completely away from other in looks (like have a handwritten note in the chapter).

I would personally use some kind of separation of content and style and define in the beginning custom commands like

ewcommand{	ypewrite}[1]{	extbf{	exttt{#1}}}

This way you can typeset, change and tweak font attributes when you’re finished.