Why do I, Booglejr, Love LaTeX?

Booglejr | 03/15/2020
Why do I, Booglejr, Love LaTeX?

If you have never used LaTeX or you are here because of my awesome title then you are in luck because I am going to tell you about LaTeX and why I think it's awesome. Or more specifically what exactly LaTeX is, why I love it, and how to use it.


What is Latex?

LaTeX is a self-professed document preparation system / high-quality typesetting system. In other words, LaTeX is a system that compiles 'source code / syntax' into high-quality PDFs and other types of production ready documents. Think of it as Markdown's older genius cousin. It has gained / had a significant hold on the more scientific aspects of academia and technical fields in general. This is primarily because it has a very distinguished scientific "look" and because LaTeX excels at typesetting really complicated mathematical expressions among other kinds of formulas. Another reason to use it is if you just don't care about formatting but you want your document to look good. (This isn't saying that you can't override formatting behaviour.)


But Why do I, Booglejr, Love LaTeX?

My experience with just about any WYSIWYG editor (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Pages) has always been really more of a what you see you hope you get experience.  For example you type up this beautiful document and it's pretty and perfect and then *insert any WYSiWYG software ever* crashes. Welp, even with Autosave every 10 minutes your entire document is basically gone. Next example, you try to export your document and it instead exports a cheap imitation of your document that you would find in a flea market. And so you are left to battle the export tool until you eventually compromise on a less than desirable version of your original document. And for the final example you are using some fancy formatting tool like Columns and you accidentally hit Backspace at the wrong spot and then your layout it all bungled up by the incompetent formatting tool and for some reason Ctrl-Z won't fix it. If this sounds specific, there is a reason. I've had this happen.

LaTeX basically solves all these problems simply with the way it is made. Consider the first issue, since you have to compile the document to preview it, it also has to be saved. So you basically save it non-stop just to see what your document looks like. It's not as tedious as it sounds most LaTeX tools do this for you when you click render. Now consider the second issue. Since the preview is an already exported version of the document you are editing there is no chance for what you see to be different than what you get. Finally, since LaTeX is entirely about typesetting there is no way that the pressing Backspace can accidentally changed you entire format other than deleting a character of formatting syntax. Something that can easily be repaired with Ctrl-Z.


Surely There are Some Faults?

But of course. Allow me to list a few weakpoints of LaTeX:

  1. Installing the LaTeX distributions can be serious pain.
  2. Sometimes people use strange packages for there code snippets and if you can't find the package they use you probably won't be using their pretty layout / code (Kind of related to the distribution you use).
  3. The commands can be kind of hard to remember. (A good editing tool can pretty much remedy this issue.)


I'm All Hyped Up About LaTeX! How Do I Use It?

If you aren't quite certain about LaTeX yet and the word "distribution" is scary then I would recommend you check out Overleaf, it's an online latex editor. However, if you are like totally sold on LaTeX and you want to run it on your system. Then stay tuned! First you will need a TeX distribution I recommend TeX Live because it's my favorite, here's the link: TeX Live. You probably also want a LaTeX editor, my favorite is Texmaker, here's the link: Texmaker. Once you have these installed you can go ahead and fire up Texmaker.

At this point you've been dumped into a grey screen. But because we are doing an introduction we'll fix this with the Wizard. Go to the top bar and click Wizard > Quick Start. Change the Document Class to article. Then adjust Author and Title to your liking. Finally click OK.

You should have some text in the left-side pane appear. Now we need to save this document. Go to File > Save as and save this document. Now along the shortcut bar just right of the left most right-facing arrow there is a dropdown it should say Quick Build if it doesn't change it to Quick Build. Now click the aforementioned left most right-facing arrow. We'll call this rendering from here on out. You should see a dot appear on a whiter right-side pane.

Now go to the left-side pane and delete the dot and replace it with "\maketitle" without the quotes. Now render the document again. You should see a fancy title with whatever you chose to write.

Underneath \maketitle write (or copy) the following:

Note: If you copy make sure it actually looks like below the extra line-breaks make a difference in how it renders.

\section{Hello World}
Here's some plaintext. How are you feeling today. I
personally am feeling quite dandy. But I keep wondering is this love or
just game? But I sense that you subconsciously
knew that I knew that you
knew that this was never anymore than filler before you knew it wasn't. Er.. Was.
\subsection{Look Ma, I'm using \LaTeX} 
Here's some better plaintext.
\item This is a enumerated list
\item \textbf{The Russians Are Coming, The Russians are Coming}
\item I thought I needed a third item.
\begin{list}{\hspace{100px}$\Omega^{Raised To Awesome}_{BulletPoint}$}{Here's a cooler list with more options:}
\item Wax on wax off.
\item Where'd my waxing and off cassette go.
\item Found it. I forgot that \textit{Ice God of Hungary} was so good.
$Oohh-fancy-equation-syntax^2-without_{subscripts? Never!!}-spaces \frac{rise}{run faster}$\newline\newline 
Oh yeah those \ \^\ and \_\ work on almost anything when wrapped in math things aka \$.\newline\newline
Have fun with it. Play around. I'm out.

If you render that you should have quite an interesting document. Now you can get the PDF (the pdf is in the same place as the .tex file you saved)  and show it to your boss (probably shouldn't do this since it looks like a lunatic wrote this scrawling mess), your mom, and your cat or dog. You mileage may vary with dogs but the cats though they know what's up. Anyway now that you obviously love LaTeX, I'mma head out. Thanks for tuning in!

PS: My website's WYSIWYG editor died and I lost everything when I tried to write this article. Just sayin'.