# [nSLUG] Learning TEX

Vikram Chhatre crypticlineage at gmail.com
Tue May 29 01:42:01 ADT 2007

Mike,

I like this guide as a starter for LaTeX

www.ctan.org/tex-archive/info/l*short*/english/l*short*.pdf

Vikram Chhatre
Nashville, TN

Mike Spencer wrote:
> So: if one wants to learn and start using TEX, what's the entry point?
>
>
> Assuming that Demighod Knuth was the authority on his own system, I
> bought The TEXbook over a decade ago.  Found it not very helpful, put
> TEX aside because TEX on ms-dos and a dot matrix printer wasn't very
> workable anyhow.
>
> Now I I have the whole shebang in a Linux distro and a laser printer.
> The TEXbook is still barely helpful.  Both the book and any
> documentation that I can grovel up from within the TEX distro package
> seem to offer only trivial material or very advanced detail.
>
>    + There is no "reference manual", i.e. a list of all the 900 or so
>      things you can say in basic TEX (let alone all the 3rd party
>      macros) with detailed descriptions of what they do, e.g.
>
>          \fnord{ text }
>          \fnord  text
>          \endfnord
>
>           The \fnord construct causes affected text to be printed but
>           be invisible to all but 10th level Illuminati. \fnord
>           affects the text inside following braces or all following
>           text up to the end of any enclosing block or an instance of
>           \endfnord, whichever comes first. \fnord is valid anywhere
>           in a TEX document except within a math construct where
>           affected text will be silently elided together with all
>           instances of the digit '3' anywhere in the document.
>
>    + There seems to be no easily accessible documentation or FAQ that
>      answers  how-to questions, e.g., "How can I indicate numbered
>      sections according to numbering scheme foo such that the sections
>      will be numbered serially in the output and allow me to
>      interpolate new sections without having to manually renumber all
>      the sections following the interpolation?"
>
> There seems to be a huge library of follow-on macro packages but,
> AFAICS, they all have the same shortcoming as the book. There are
> answers to questions like, "When I write '\foo\bar\ sillytext
> \elbonianstyle \superscript tm', there is an extra, unwanted dingbat
> in the next paragraph. How do I make it go away?" but very little
> about simple beginner or intermediate questions.
>
> To learn C, I read K&R cover to cover. To learn AWK I did the same with
> The AWK Programming Language. To learn Perl, I read the the ASCII doc
> that came with Perl 4 and, later, Perl 5 manpages.  I can't say the I
> "know" Maple but I managed to find a copy of Maple V Library Reference
> Manual which gives me the syntax for everything that may be said to
> the Maple V interpreter and what the syntax does.
>
>
> Assuming such a learning style, where should I go to get up to speed
> with TEX?  Or am I cluelessly trying to do something that no sane
> person would do, akin, say, to composing photorealistic images by
> writing a bitmap in a text editor?
>
>
> Stumped,
> - Mike
>
>