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  1. What is TeX/LaTeX?
  2. LaTeX Environment
  3. How to Create a LaTeX file, and a PDF file from it
  4. Download TeX/LaTeX/DVIPS
  5. Automatic Hyperlinking
  6. Labs with TeX / LaTeX
  7. Penn State Specific TeX Information


What is TeX/LaTeX?

TeX is a document formatting language (and the program that processes it) written by Donald Knuth of Stanford University, originally for preparation of his book series "The Art of Computer Programming." It is a typesetting program designed for high-quality composition of material that contains numerous technical expressions. It excels particularly at formatting mathematical equations and for managing two-dimensional presentations of data (tabular and otherwise).

LaTeX is a set of macros written by Leslie Lamport as a "front-end" to TeX that makes articles, reports, theses, dissertations, and books easy to create and manage. LaTeX, a document preparation system , user's guide and reference manual, by Leslie Lamport (Addison-Wesley Publishing Company), is a good resource guide to use.

TeX and LaTeX are very popular in the scientific and academic communities, especially in the disciplines of mathematical and physical sciences, and are used extensively by the leading publishing houses, such as Springer Verlag. The power of these languages lies in their portability--one part of a document can be created on Unix and another can be created in a PC (Windows) environment. Students are encouraged to become literate in TeX or LaTeX and prepare and submit eTDs using these tools. The time you spend learning TeX or LaTeX during the course of developing your eTD can be recovered in knowledge, which you can carry forward throughout your career. Many society journals accept articles for publication in TeX/LaTeX formats via electronic mail.

For more information on TeX/LaTeX see the TeX Users Group home page.

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LaTeX Environment

LaTeX will number your pages and your sections, will generate your table of contents and lists of figures and tables, and will format your bibliography. If you change from single to double spacing, LaTeX will automatically renumber your pages and redo your table of contents, list of figures, and list of tables.

You can also insert graphics into a LaTeX file by a command, such as \epsffile{figure.eps}, and change the margins, formatting, and font size by a single command at the top of the document.

LaTeX allows you to use citations and references to equations tables automatically, eliminating the need to keep track of the equation numbers. Since it is created using a text editor, you can use any email software to send it electronically on any platform (Unix, Mac, PC etc.) irrespective of where it is created.

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How to Create a LaTeX file, and a PDF file from it

To create a LaTeX file, all you need is your favorite text (ASCII) editor. LaTeX is free to download from any CTAN archive (Comprehensive TeX Archive Network), and works on Macintosh, MS-DOS, Unix, and Windows 3.1/95/NT.

After typing your thesis into an ASCII editor using the LaTeX macros appropriately, run the program "latex" to generate a DVI file (device independent file)—from etd.tex you get etd.dvi (likewise, with program "tex" run on a TeX file—from etd.tex you get etd.dvi).

Next use the program "dvips" to convert the DVI file (etd.dvi) into PostScript—you get It takes only few moments to do these last two steps, depending on the size of the document.

Finally, use the Adobe Acrobat Distiller product to convert PostScript files into PDF (Portable Document Format) files—from you get etd.pdf. It is better to include all the fonts in the file. One way to achive this is to use the distill command with the following options.

distill -embedallfonts on -maxsubsetpct 100

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Download TeX, LaTeX, and DVIPS

Download TeX/LaTeX/dvips packages from the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN) at

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Automatic Hyperlinking

Certain extensions to LaTeX are available that generate PDF hyperlinks automatically. These are available from any CTAN archive under systems/tex2pdf. First, you must install the tex2pdf software, then insert special macros into your LaTeX file. When you ultimately generate the PDF file using pdftex, the hyperlinks you have declared will appear in it--between bibliographic references citations, from figure references in the text to figures, from table references to tables. One may even include external hyperlinks to Web pages.

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ITS Labs with TeX/LaTeX

Pollock Lab

Location: Pollock Halls

Platform: Win/Mac


Wagner Building (Private)

Location: East Halls

Platform: Win/Mac

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Penn State Specific Information

A LaTeX guide with Penn State specific information is available from the University Libraries.

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Questions and suggestions may be directed to

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