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A new edition to A Guide to LaTeX begs the fundamental question: Has LaTeX changed so much since the appearance of the third edition in 1999 that a new release of this book is justified?
The simple answer to that question is 'Well,. . . .' In 1994, the LaTeX world was in upheaval with the issue of the new version LaTeX2ε, and the second edition of the Guide came out just then to act as the bridge between the old and new versions. By 1998, the initial teething problems had been worked out and corrected through semiannual releases, and the third edition could describe an established, working system. However, homage was still paid to the older 2.09 version since many users still employed its familiar syntax, although they were most likely to be using it in a LaTeX2ε environment. LaTeX has now reached a degree of stability that since 2000 the regular updates have been reduced to annual events, which often appear months after the nominal date, something that does not worry anyone. The old version 2.09 is obsolete and should no longer play any role in such a book. In this fourth edition, it is reduced to an appendix just to document its syntax and usage.
But if LaTeX itself has not changed substantially since 1999, many of its peripherals have. The rise of programs such as pdfTeX and dvipdfm for PDF output adds new possibilities, which are realized, not in LaTeX directly, but by means of more modern packages to extend the basic features. The distribution of TeX/LaTeX installations has changed, such that most users are given a complete, ready-to-run setup, with all the 'extras' that previously had to be obtained separately. Those extras include user-contributed packages, many of which are now considered indispensable. Today 'the LaTeX system' includes much more than the basic kernel by Leslie Lamport, encompassing the contributions of hundreds of other people. This edition reflects this increase in breadth.
The changes to the fourth edition are mainly those of emphasis.
Helmut Kopka and Patrick W. Daly September 2003
|2||Text, Symbols, and Commands||21|
|3||Document Layout and Organization||41|
|5||Text in Boxes||85|
|8||Graphics Inclusion and Color||153|
|9||Floating tables and figures||169|
|II||Beyond the Basics||203|
|12||Bibliographic Databases and BibT[subscript E]X||227|
|13||PostScript and PDF||241|
|15||Math Extensions with AmS-LaTeX||269|
|16||Drawing with LaTeX||297|
|App. A||The New Font Selection Scheme||361|
|App. B||Installing and Maintaining LaTeX||375|
|App. C||Error Messages||395|
|App. D||LaTeX Programming||427|
|App. E||LaTeX and the World Wide Web||455|
|App. F||Obsolete LaTeX||463|
|App. G: Command Summary||467|
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 ofLATEXapplication. 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
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
longtable should be used in everyday situations, and are by no means exotic.
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
Posted January 5, 2002
This book provides a resonable introduction for beginners, but is much more useful to moderately advanced and very advanced users of LaTeX. The book is well structured with chapters and sections that describe exactly how to accomplish a given task. This book is a wonderful and easy to use reference on the LaTeX markup language. If you are looking for a quality book on LaTeX, buy this book. If you are a beginner to LaTeX, take your time and explore the first few chapters carefully. Take the time to duplicate some of the examples before trying your own documents. Don't let the concepts intimidate you, and you will be a moderately advanced user before you realize it!
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