Learning LaTeX

One of my courses this semester, COMS 4241 – Numerical Algorithms and Complexity, will most likely require the use of LaTeX for assignments. So, I’ve been trying to learn it before classes start.

This is the tutorial I’m using: LaTeX Primer from tug.org

And here’s a useful web app that allows me to play around with LaTeX. It compiles and generates the document nearly instantly, which aids learning: www.writelatex.com

So far, LaTeX seems to be different from any markup language I’m familiar with. It’s really hammering home the point that it’s a typesetting language, which means it’s designed with typesetting concepts in mind. All of its tags, or commands as they’re called, are in the context of typesetting conventions, rather than what I’m generally used to.

For instance:

I’ve never seen these text formatting modifiers referred to as “Family,” “Series,” and “Shape.” I’ve thought of them as fonts and formatting. In addition, I wasn’t aware of nuances like slanted vs. italic.

I’m excited to learn more about LaTeX, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to memorize all of these commands and their arguments. I think I’ll need to find a reference document when I actually need to write LaTeX.