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The LaTeX Companion (Tools and Techniques for Computer Typesetting) 2nd Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0201362992
ISBN-10: 0201362996
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The LaTeX Companion has long been the essential resource for anyone using LaTeX to create high-quality printed documents. This completely updated edition brings you all the latest information about LaTeX and the vast range of add-on packages now available--over 200 are covered! Full of new tips and tricks for using LaTeX in both traditional and modern typesetting, this book will also show you how to customize layout features to your own needs--from phrases and paragraphs to headings, lists, and pages.

Inside, you will find:

  • Expert advice on using LaTeX's basic formatting tools to create all types of publications--from memos to encyclopedias
  • In-depth coverage of important extension packages for tabular and technical typesetting, floats and captions, multicolumn layouts--including reference guides and discussions of the underlying typographic and TeXnical concepts
  • Detailed techniques for generating and typesetting contents lists, bibliographies, indexes, etc.
  • Tips and tricks for LaTeX programmers and systems support

New to this edition:

  • Nearly 1,000 fully tested examples that illustrate the text and solve typographical and technical problems--all ready to run!
  • An additional chapter on citations and bibliographies
  • Expanded material on the setup and use of fonts to access a huge collection of glyphs, and to typeset text from a wide range of languages and cultures
  • Major new packages for graphics, "verbatim" listings, floats, and page layout
  • Full coverage of the latest packages for all types ofdocuments--mathematical, multilingual, and many more
  • Detailed help on all error messages, including those troublesome low-level TeX errors

Like its predecessor, The LaTeX Companion, Second Edition, is an indispensable reference for anyone wishing to use LaTeX productively.

The accompanying CD-ROM contains a complete plug-and-play LaTeX installation, including all the packages and examples featured in the book.

About the Author

Frank Mittelbach is manager of the LaTeX3 Project, in which capacity he oversaw the release of LaTeX 2e. He is the editor of a series of publications on tools and techniques for computer typesetting.

Michel Goossens is past president of the TeX Users Group. A research physicist at CERN, where the Web paradigm was born, he is responsible for LaTeX, HTML, SGML, and, more recently, XML support for scientific documents.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1120 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 2nd edition (May 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201362996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201362992
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Frank Mittelbach studied mathematics and computer science at the Johannes-Gutenberg University, Mainz. These days he is working for HP Enterprise Services in an architect role.

His interest in LaTeX and in the automated formatting of complex documents in general goes back to his university days and has become a major interest, perhaps a vocation. He is author or co-author of many and varied LaTeX extension packages, such as AmSLaTeX, doc, multicol, and NFSS: the New Font Selection Scheme.

At the TUG conference at Stanford University in 1989, he gave a talk about the problems with LaTeX 2.09, which led to his taking on the responsibility for the maintenance and further development of LaTeX. This effort is generally known as the LaTeX3 Project and in the capacity of technical director of this project, he has overseen the original major release of LaTeX2e in 1994 and the, by now, about 20 subsequent maintenance releases of this software.

His publication of many technical papers on LaTeX and on general research results in automated formatting brought him in contact with Peter Gordon from Addison-Wesley. Peter and Frank inaugurated the book series "Tools and Techniques for Computer Typesetting" (TTCT), with Frank as series editor. "The LaTeX Companion" (1994) was the first book of this series whose titles by now cover LaTeX in all its facets. Forthcoming works will expand that core to cover other typesetting and information processing tools and concepts.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Pocket Review: *The* bible to keep on your desk if you use LaTex.

I love type. Ever since I got into computers, back when high resolution was a 132 column printer, I've tried to find ways to play with typesetting and fonts. I wrote a basic layout system in OMSI Pascal that drove daisywheel printers. I got to be quite an expert at nroff and troff. I used to hunt (without success) for a free copy of Scribe. I played with Lout, and a dozen other packages. But nothing, ever, held a candle to TeX when it comes to the quality of the output it produces.

Ignore for the moment some of the uglier fonts than some TeX users employ, and look instead at the pages. Hold them up at a distance and admire the uniformity of the gray: no rivers of white to be seen. Look at the bottoms of the page: if the typesetter didn't totally goof off, they'll be vertically balanced: an open spread is
the same height on both pages (TeX'll add tiny amounts of leading to make it happen). Dig into the line-breaking, and you'll find optimization algorithms, which shuffle words back and forth trying to minimize the <em>badness</em> of the appearance.

The output of TeX gives me a lot of pleasure.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for its input. Don Knuth is clearly a genius, but as with all wizards, his creations can be tricky. In the case of TeX, we have a typesetting engine driven by a macro processor whose interpretation of syntax can be changed while it is in the middle of processing individual commands. Raw TeX is scary to deal with, so people don't deal with it. Instead, they use its power to write macro packages, abstracting the low level commands into something more palatable (and tractable). The most widely used of these is Leslie Lamport's LaTeX.
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Format: Paperback
I have been a TeX/LaTeX user since 1982, and have authored several classes and styles (newlfm). I just got my copy of the new The LaTeX Companion (2nd Edition). I just love it!! Why? 942 pages of text, 94 pages of the index (YEP!), wonderfully clear examples, 136 pages on fonts, a whole appendix on debugging, 72 pp on mathematics, etc. The book is well-written and uses clearly distinct fonts for user commands, internal commands, etc. There are 138 pages about fonts. In the mathematics chapter, there are 104 examples in the Math chapter alone; one REALLY COOL section shows 10 different font choices and their impact on the typesetting of a small page of mathematics. HOT STUFF!!
In short, there is only 1 limitation to the book: It does not have LaTeX/TeX lion on the front. That is hard to accept. However, everything else is really good. I highly recommend this.
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Format: Paperback
This is, by far, the most useful book I own. The first edition was great, the second edition is nothing short of spectacular. The two-color print is very helpful. Compared to the first edition, which I've been using for just about seven years, the updated package descriptions in the new edition improved my typesetting substantially within only a few days after I got it. Well worth it's price. I hope the authors make a good buck on this, since they are making my life so much easier.

The stated intention of the book not withstanding, I think this is all you'll ever need to use LaTeX, no matter how serious a user you are. Well, maybe a two-page primer of the basic commands in addition. Anyway, I've never used Kopka's book and I never touched Lamport's. Not because they're bad, but because I never had to.

The one small issue I have with the second edition: where did the cute pooch on the cover go?
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Format: Paperback
The second edition of The LaTeX Companion is a thorough rewrite of the first edition. If you're seeking a single source for improving your LaTeX documents (in ways you never imagined), this is your book. It is really a tour de force in technical documentation and clearly a labor of love from its numerous authors. The extensive coverage of packages and the examples are very useful. In addition, every example is provided in the CD that comes with the manual. The CD also includes a complete LaTeX installation. You will not find a better text for working with LaTeX and I highly recommend it.

PS I've been using LaTeX since 1990 and am familiar with all the principal manuals.
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I'm in the throes of writing a large report and decided to use LaTeX to handle the document processing for me. (Yes, I should be working, but I decided to take a respite and write this review!) I use LaTeX all the time to produce the short documents necessary for teaching classes, so I'm literate. But this is the first large writing project I've managed entirely in LaTeX.

This review refers to the second edition of "The LaTeX Companion."

It's difficult to write a review beyond "This is a great book--buy it!" There is so much contained within The Companion that any review will fall short. So, allow me to take a slightly different tack. I have two books on my desk right next to my workstation. Lamport's "LaTeX: A Document Preparation Guide, 2nd Edition" and Mittelbach, et al.'s "The LaTeX Companion, 2nd Edition." (My discipline-specific texts and papers are scattered all over everywhere--typical professor mode.) I use Lamport's book for quick reference for math symbols and table setup (Lamport is much less hefty...) and The Companion for reference on everything else. The Companion is full of details necessary to get "the details" right.

The Companion is well-written, well-indexed, well-organized, and contains a compilation of information not available anywhere else for users of LaTeX. You will not be able to use the packages and extensions necessary to make the writing job easier without The Companion. Trust me--if you are writing using LaTeX, then you need this text for access to instructions for using the packages necessary, and desirable, for production of technical text.

I cannot imagine developing another complex document without LaTeX and the two texts I use. A actually have two copies of both texts (LaTeX and The Companion), one at the office and one at home. I can't imagine writing in LaTeX without them both. But, if I had to chose just one book, I'd have to chose The Companion. It's that simple and that necessary.
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