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A Guide to LATEX: Document Preparation for Beginners and Advanced Users (3rd Edition) Paperback – January 25, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Four years after the release of LATEX 2E and almost as long since the appearance of the second edition of A Guide to LATEX, the time is ripe to consider a third edition. How has LATEX changed in this interval? What has to be altered in the book?

First of all, LATEX 2E is now well established as the official version of LATEX; for this reason the title of this book reverts to the original form used for the first edition. (The second edition was titled A Guide to LATEX 2E to emphasize that it covered the new LATEX.) Nevertheless, we continue to point out those features that are exclusive to LATEX 2 E and which were not available under version 2.09.

LATEX is upgraded every six months. The first few updates to LATEX 2E saw a number of important changes, but now it has become very stable, at least for standard features at the user level. Improvements and changes occur mostly at deeper levels, or in supporting packages. For example, the number of input encoding tables and graphics drivers has steadily increased. The 256-character DC fonts have now been replaced by their EC equivalents. However, the major change since 1994 is the prevalence of the Internet and World Wide Web; new programs are now available to enable LATEX documents to be 'put online'. These do not reflect changes to LATEX itself but rather to the entire LATEX environment and its applications. This is now dealt with in Section D.4.

A new edition provides an opportunity to reorganize much material, to change emphasis, and to correct mistakes. In this light, we have decided that the importation of graphics files is no longer an extension for advanced users, but a basic part of LATEX application. The usage has become standardized; many problems have been identified and solved. Thus a very detailed explanation of the graphics and color packages is now given in Chapter 6 and the emphasis on the LATEX picture environment has been reduced.

The use of PostScript fonts has also become more relevant, to such an extent that Computer Modern fonts are no longer the hallmark of a LATEX document. Appendix F (TEX Fonts) has been revised to reflect this.

Several example packages in Appendix C (LATEX programming) have been removed, in particular those dealing with language adaptation and author-year citations. These examples contained far too much TEX code to be appropriate as demonstrations, and their usefulness as packages is questionable considering the widespread availability of the babel and natbib packages. As compensation, a new package is offered for redefining the sectioning commands.

It has always been our intention only to describe the standard LATEX features, and not to elaborate on many of the excellent contributed packages available. This is not because we consider them to be inferior; on the contrary, a large number of them are indispensable and should be part of any standard installation. It is simply that we must limit the material in this book somehow, and these packages are dealt with elsewhere, for example in the LATEX Companion (Goosens et al., 1994) and LATEX Graphics Companion (Goosens et al., 1997). We have decided to make two exceptions. Many of the 'tools' packages mentioned in Section D.3.3 are now described in the main text where their application would be most appropriate. Packages like multicol, array, longtable should be used in everyday situations, and are by no means exotic.

The amsmath and amsfonts packages are the other exception. An overview to these important mathematical tools is now provided in Appendix E and tables of the extra AMS symbol fonts are given on pages 5525 54. For mathematical typesetting, these additional commands must also be considered indispensable.

We feel the changes will make this book even more relevant and applicable to the effective production of high-class documents with LATEX. Helmut Kopka and Patrick W. Daly
September 1998 0201398257P04062001

From the Back Cover

If you are a user with little or no experience of computers or text formatting and you want to master LATEX to produce documents of high quality, then this book is essential reading. Fully revised to cover the most up-to-date versions of LATEX this accessible and practical tutorial contains all of the information you will need to get up and running with LATEX, and is an essential reference tool to users at all levels.

This book will enable you to:
  • Master the basics of LATEX and explore more advanced topics including user-defined extensions
  • Get up to speed with the latest LATEX extensions for adaptations to other languages
  • Explore numerous practical examples and pick up handy tips for avoiding common problems
  • Benefit from detailed appendices including the Command Summary and Summary Tables
New to this Edition
  • Completely updated to cover the latest releases and upgrades of LATEX
  • Covers new features including graphics importation and PostScript font installation
  • Section on LATEX and the World Wide Web
  • Section on LATEX on Windows & Windows NT
  • Section on installations for 32 bit PC

Helmut Kopka and Patrick W. Daly are both scientific staff members at the Max-Planck-Institut für Aeronomie in Germany.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 616 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 3 Sub edition (January 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201398257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201398250
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've been using LaTeX for over five years (cut my eyeteeth on TeX, though, thank you very much). I've just signed on to help typeset a calculus textbook, and knew that it was time to get serious about programming. I had a 3 inch stack of documentation from various corners of the internet in my office, but no book that I had paid for--my old LaTeX book from circa 1994 had been stolen.
I was all set to buy two books--Lamport's original and The LaTeX Ccmpanion. After all, you wouldn't read another TeX book but Knuth's, would you? Then I saw this book.
Though certainly not for the advanced programmer (like, on the .cls level), this book is great for the beginning programmer (creating .sty files) and intermediate user (hacking .sty files). The reference bits are very useful--"What's the syntax of that command again?" But the examples in the earlier part of the book are even better for programming-by-plaigiarism. There's even a bit on docstrip so you can be a real LaTeX programmer.
I don't think I'll buy another book on LaTeX for another five years.
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I use LaTeX on a daily basis and wrote a textbook (Numerical Methods for Physics) using it. With a bookshelf full of LaTeX books, this is always the first one I look at and 98% of the time, the only one I need. Excellent. (Note: Review for Second Edition)
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Format: Paperback
Any book that claims to cater for beginners and advanced users alike has quite a task ahead of it and I don't believe this guide to LaTeX does justice to either category of user.
The true nature of this 616 page beast is spelt out in chapter 1, where the reader is advised that the book "is designed for LaTeX users who have little or no experience with computers" and that there exists "considerable repetition in the text". Unless you have a solid week to spare and the memory of a gold fish this book has the potential to be incredibly frustrating. Instead of being immersed in worthwhile examples demonstrating the true power of LaTeX, the reader is forced to trawl through paragraph after paragraph of verbose explanation. Worse still, with minimal imagination employed in presentation, the fact that this book was typeset using LaTeX doesn't inspire confidence - helpful hints supposedly written in a smaller typeface to make them distinct, simply disappear into the sea of sentences.
There are many LaTeX references out there to chose from, but inevitably all books in the market place must be compared with texts by Goossens et al (400 pages, published 1994) and LaTeX developer Lamport (272 pages, published 1994). Other reviewers have correctly pointed out that this book covers more than others combined. The plethora of appendices is dense but in some cases not as useful as would first appear. For instance, one table included contains a complete list of possible PostScript fonts, great you say, until you notice that they're all displayed in the same font!
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Format: Paperback
I had to write an extremely formula intensive paper with loads of archane mathematical symbols, and I had no previous knowledge of TeX or LaTeX. Without this book, I'd still be formatting that paper. Almost everything I needed to know about LaTeX, I learned in about an afternoon and a half from this well organized treatment of LaTeX. "A Guide..." is filled with usefull examples, explains the important concepts and features clearly and concisely, and provides an extensive appendix covering most of the features of LaTeX. I chose Kopka's "Guide" over the Lamport book because Kopka seems to provide a more comprehensive coverage of the language and the organization better fit my needs. However, I don't think you can go wrong with either book.
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Format: Paperback
This is an updated tutorial and also a very good reference manual.
I have the full set of official LaTeX books
(the Lamport's manual, The LaTeX Companion, The LaTeX Graphics Companion,
and The LaTeX Web Companion),
and also this Kopka-Daly book, and the Hoenig book.
The official LaTeX 'basic' books (the Lamport's manual and the LaTeX
Companion) are a bit outdated, so this is the book to buy now.
If you are a beginner, this is the book for you, because it covers
from the basics to advanced topics.
If you are not a beginner, you will benefit from it, because it's updated,
it's a good trade-off between a too simple basic manual and an advanced one,
and because it has very useful parts, like Error Messages, Programming,
and a very good and unique Command Summary chapter that is truly special.
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By A Customer on October 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is the best LaTeX book I know of. Its breadth and depth of information is superior to any other book I know of and the book is easy to understand.
I first reach for _A Guide to LaTeX_, my second choice is _The LaTeX Companion_, my last choice is _LaTeX: A Document Preparation System_.
My advice: buy this book, if it doesn't answer all your questions buy _The LaTeX Companion_.
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