12 great resources for getting started with LaTeX

After writing a five minute guide to LaTeX, I’d like to summarize some of the best resources for LaTeX beginners. When performing a Google search, you’ll find way too much information. Knowing what resources to use is key for a successful start with LaTeX and this post will help you with that.

The obvious

Without being too arrogant, I’d like to point out the main goal of this blog is helping beginners to get started with LaTeX. That is also why I’ve written a quick guide and quite a few beginner-level posts. Note that some posts on this blog are actually more advanced, so don’t be scared by some of the content.

Online communities

Probably the best way to get your questions answered is using forums. My favorite one, and also the best for beginners, is LaTeX Communtity. For more sophisticated answers, TeX.SE is very good.

Tutorials and guides

Probably the most used and most searched for document on getting started with LaTeX is “The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2ε“. Although this guide includes just about anything you want to know about LaTeX, I do not recommend this one. It will absolutely overwhelm you with all the possibilities in LaTeX, while a beginner should just learn how to create a simple document. All the rest will follow.
Having this in mind, a guide that covers only the very basics that I really like is Andy Roberts’ website on getting grips with LaTeX. His site contains basic and illustrative tutorials.
Lastly, I also really like the Wikibooks pages on LaTeX. They contain a lot of information, especially covering the basics of LaTeX.

LaTeX installation

Before following any tutorial on LaTeX, you’d want to install it on you computer ;-) Unfortunately, most short guides for beginners don’t cover this subject. It is often found a bit scary or something. However, installing LaTeX is not difficult at all. I’ve written tutorials on how to install LaTeX on Windows and on OS X. I’m not experienced with LaTeX on Linux, but I’ve been told that this is a good tutorial for that.

Miscellaneous

Last but not least, I’d like to point out three resources that should be bookmarked in your browser. You’ll likely be using these resources A LOT when using LaTeX. The first one is the LaTeX cheat sheet; a two-pages document containing all important LaTeX commands (and even a bit more). Secondly, two resources on symbols in LaTeX. So many different (math) symbols exist that I will definitely never learn them by heart. Fortunately, I don’t have to because of The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List and Detexify. The first is a very large document containing a lot, if not all, symbols and their commands. Detexify is a great little web tool that allows you to draw a symbol and it will automatically search for the corresponding command.

Update: more resources

I forgot to mention (at least) one important resource: writeLaTeX.com. This is my favorite LaTeX web compiler, as already highlighted in a previous post.

More resources?

If you’re new to this site, you might not know that there actually is a section containing a lot of (La)TeX resources; latex.howtotex.com. Have a look there to find many, many more.

3 Comments

  1. Dawn says:

    I’d like to point that downloading pre-made templates and reading it’s source codes really helped me now while I’m learning LaTeX.

  2. Hi Frits – nice list!

    I would also add TeXample.net as a great way to see what LaTeX is capable of, in particular with regard to figures and illustrations. Plus, as all the examples there open in writeLaTeX for easy editing online, you don’t even have to install anything to try them out :-)

    • Frits says:

      Hi John,

      TeXample.net is definitely a good resource, but apart from its community section it’s mainly focussed on TikZ. I’ll probably write a separate post listing a few good resources to start using TikZ. I did add writeLaTeX.com to the list, thanks!

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