LaTeX tips

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This will be a repository of tips for using LaTeX. To add a tip, just create a link below, for example: Separating the Red Sea and save the page. The link will be red. Just click on the red link and you will automatically be editing the page. Nothing like a blank canvas to share your hard-gleaned wisdom!


Recommendations for downloads

  • Best Windows LaTeX compiler Miktex
  • Best Windows editor TeXnicCenter
  • Best Mac editor TeXShop
  • Best Mac compiler MacTeX
  • A Linux Integrated LaTeX Enivronment Kile
  • For any Linux/Unix system, simply use your favourite Unix editor to type the mylatex.tex file. Here is a basic list of Unix commands. To check your spellings, you can say

ispell mylatex.tex (.tex extension may be omitted)

in the shell.

General setup

  • Compiling the LaTeX using pdfTeX allows the creation of pdf files as the final product and the inclusion of graphics created as pdf files from some other source. For many people this is more convenient than using postscript files which may be the default for LaTeX compilers and editors. pdfTeX works nicely with images produced as pdf files (see R/General Information on Plotting).

Converting from other formats

There are a variety of tools for converting to LaTeX from other formats, many of which are described here. For equations, the only software that QERMunists have found to be truly great is GrindEQ's Word2LaTeX. Unfortunately, that one costs $129, but they have a "fully functional evaluation/download version", so as long as you fully embrace LaTeX after converting your files, then you could get by with just the free trial.

MathType (unfortunately no longer free!, $57 or 30-day trial that might be enough to move all the way to LaTeX), will nicely convert individual equations written in Equation Editor or MathType to LaTeX. Within MathType, use the menu for Preferences > Translators, and select "Translation to other language" and pick the default, "TeX -- LaTeX 2.09 and later". Now highlight any equation in the MathType window and paste into a text file. The pasted text should appear as text in LaTeX syntax.

Anyone have any success converting using Open Office, or even seeing MathType-produced equations in Open Office?

Converting to other formats


latex2rtf converts .tex documents to .rtf, which can be opened in Open Office or Word and saved as a .doc. Get it here (windows) or your favorite package manager (linux/mac). Usage is as simple as latex2rtf myfile where myfile has extension .tex and has already been compiled. There are switches to control how equations are handled (see the documentation for more details), and some examples are -M3 (convert both inline and displayed equations to RTF), -M12 (convert both inline and displayed equations to bitmaps), and -M32 (insert the raw latex equation delimited by <<: and :>>). If you choose to insert the raw latex equation and you have MathType, you can convert equations to MathType equations by cutting/pasting the latex into the MathType window, or with MathType 6.5 for windows, highlight the latex equation in Word and click the TeX toggle command on the toolbar. Latex2rtf supports bibliographies.


GrindEQ LaTeX-to-Word is a windows-only product that converts .tex to .doc. It costs €49 but the evaluation version comes with 10 launches.

Adobe Acrobat Pro

Acrobat Pro will export .pdf files to Word. It does alright with the text portions, but the equation conversion is pretty awful. Unfortunately, some of the converted documents hang Word, YMMV.

Useful Links

  • Great resource to get started and have questions answered: LaTeX WikiBook
  • A quick cheat sheet of all the things you forget. Cheat Sheet

Additional Pages

Topics include:

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