A Newbie View of TEX

Bob Kerstetter

Thursday July 24, 2003


I am neither a mathematician nor the son of mathematican. But the need to produce a variety of MS Word, PDF and HTML documents from the same source files brought TEX and LATEX to my Mac OS X machine. Word disqualified itself from the job because of inconsistent handling of styles, graphics and numbered lists, plus its less than standard exporting of HTML. TEX and its friends meet all of my requirements, plus eliminate the need to think about realtime formatting.

Mac OS X has both free and commercial implementations of TEX. I use these free resources:

The learning curve is about the same as Word. Helpful documentation for the newbie1 is available but difficult to find and often makes too many assumptions. The people on the OS X TEX mailing list are extraordinarily helpful and friendly.

It would be helpful if LATEX had better support for wrapping text around graphics. I am considering ConTeXt for layouts requiring more detailed control.

TEX and its offspring are productive and interesting tools capable of serving both simple and complex publishing needs. For my requirements, one TEX file contains re-usable content for multiple applications.

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... newbie1
Because I now layout a monthly newsletter using minipages I am not supposed to call myself a newbie, but I know only a couple of dozen control sequences, which are enough.

Wendy McKay 2003-12-20