Scribe Project
Effective Writing

Using Latex


LaTeX is the dominant typesetting language for technical writing. Along with Microsoft Word files, publishers often accept LaTeX files as source documents for publication. Some accept only LaTeX. This sample LaTeX input file and its related BibTeX file show the basic usage of LaTeX and provides two references, although there are numerous online resources. When compiled using LaTeX, the source file is compiled to this output PDF file .

Getting started

An easy way to get started with LaTeX is to use an online LaTeX environment such as Overleaf.

Installing LaTeX on your own system

All LaTeX IDEs (see below) require an installation of the LaTeX compiling environment.

Linux: LaTeX is typically installed on most Linux systems already. If not, it is available using the package manager of your flavor of Linux.
Mac: MacTeX is the standard LaTeX installation for Macs. A large but easily installed package is here
Window: MicTeX is commonly used on Windows.
Tablets: TeX Writer TeX Writer and Texpad are two well regarded apps for iOS. I am not familiar with Android versions.

Command Line Compilation of your LaTeX source

Command line environments like Linux terminal windows, Mac Terminal and Cygwin on Windows have a native LaTeX environment using the command pdflatex and bibtex. This is an efficient way to compile LaTeX source files for advanced users. Typically a makefile drives the whole process.


Although it is possible to use a plain editor and compile LaTeX files directly (and there is some merit to this approach), many people prefer to use an integrated development environment (IDE).


My favorite LaTeX IDE is TexStudio . It is free software available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It uses the underlying LaTeX compiling environment and provides lots of ease-of-use features. TeXShop: Macs have the popular TeXShop, which is also free to download. WinEdt: Windows systems have WinEdt, which is available individually as a free trial version and at a modest cost for a full license. This used to be my favorite editor until TeXStudio came along. A nice free tool for managing BibTeX references is JabRef.

First Example: sample.tex

Download this zip file to your desktop:

More Example Projects

In addition to the simple example, the following gzipped tar files contain helpful starting points:

Using Docker to create Latex file

Besides using some built-in application for writing Latex, using Docker for writing Latex is also recommended. Here is the full detail: Discussion on using Docker Latex environment.