TeX for Bard Students

 

 

Introduction

TeX is the state-of-the-art typesetting program used by many mathematicians and computer scientists, some scientists and social scientists, and most publishers of mathematics books and journals. TeX was originally developed by the well known computer scientist Donald Knuth. There are a variety of implementations of TeX available, for Macs, PC's and Linux. One of the advantages of TeX is that is is entirely portable between implementations. For further information about TeX, please contact any of the faculty members in mathematics or computer science.

LaTeX is the most widely used variety of TeX, and we recommend its use. Some introductory manuals for LaTeX, as well as style files for Bard senior projects and for homework, are available below.

For more about LaTeX, there is a lot of material available on the web (though a bit of care is needed, because some of it is out of date); a good place to start searching is the TeX site of the American Mathematical Society.

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Free LaTeX Implementations

There are a number of free implementations of LaTeX that can be downloaded from the web, a few of which are listed below. Be sure to follows the downloading and installation instructions carefully, because some implementation consists of a number of components that need to be installed.

  • TeXShop (Mac). This is the implementation we use at Bard. It is simple and user-friendly, and it has the advantage of using PDF files instead of DVI files (and also instead of EPS files for figure).
  • TeXworks (Linux, Mac, Windows). This is a newly developed implementation that is modeled on TeXShop, and is available in preliminary form for all three operating systems.
  • proTeXt (Windows). There is a choice of which editor to use, and TeXnicCenter is free, whereas WinEdit is not free after a trial period.

WARNING: Do not try to copy LaTeX from someone else's computer; if you do that, you will likely miss some files that LaTeX stores in places you might not think to look. Downloading LaTeX from a reliable source is the only way to insure that your implementation will work properly.

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LaTeX Manuals

There are many available manuals for LaTeX that can be found on the web. Some useful manuals are available below.

  • "The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2e", a widely used introduction to LaTeX by Tobias Oetiker, Hubert Partl, Irene Hyna and Elisabeth Schlegl, though it is not up-to-date with respect to some mathematical commands (for example, they use the obsolete eqnarray instead of the current align).

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Graphics in LaTeX

The standard way to insert graphics into LaTeX documents is to use either the graphics.sty or the graphicx.sty package. The two packages are essentially the same, but use slightly different formats for a few commands; use whichever you prefer. These packages are often bundled with LaTeX implementations. The manual for these two packages is:

For most LaTeX implementations, graphics should be in EPS (encapsulated postscript) format. For TeXShop, and presumably any other implementation that uses PDF files instead of DVI files, the correct format for graphics is PDF, which is very convenient, given that PDF files are widely used.

There are two common ways to create mathematical graphics: via mathematical software such as Mathematica, or vector drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator. Both these programs store graphics in their own proprietary formats, but when you are done making the graphics, they can be exported to EPS or PDF formats. Do not use bitmap graphics programs such as Adobe Photoshop; vector graphics programs are much better suited to mathematical drawing (and indeed are based upon mathematical ideas such as splines).

Mathematica and Maple are very powerful computer programs that can do a large variety of mathematics, including various types of graphing. At Bard we have a site lisence for Mathematica on campus; buying it for home use is rather expensive. A free alternative to Mathematics is the open source program

This program has can be accessed from any type of computer via the web. Sage can do both two and three dimensional graphing, and can export figures in JPG format (which can then be converted to PDF).

Adobe Illustrator is the professional standard vector graphics program. It is fairly expensive, though it can be found at reduced prices at the various educational discount software sites found on the web. A free alternative to Illustrator is the open source program

This program has implementations for Mac, Windows and Linux. Inkspace is not as good as Illustrator, but is quite satisfactory for many types of illustrations.

One tricky matter when creating graphics is to have the right amount of white space surrounding the graphic, which means a little bit of white space, but not too much. EPS files have a "bounding box" that determines how much white space is inserted; the bounding box is usually created automatically with as little white space as possible, though that can be modified in vector graphics programs by inserting an invisible rectangle of the right size around the graphic. For PDF files, which are often created with the graphic on an entire blank page, the white space can be cropped using an appropriate program (such as Preview on the Mac).

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LaTeX in Web Pages

Although LaTeX commands cannot be used directly in HTML, there are a few methods that have been developed to include formulae in LaTeX in web pages. A particularly convenient method for doing so is the open source program

An example of MathJax is the formula \[\lim_{T \to \{p\}} \ \frac{\text{Area}_o(\hat n(T))}{\text{Area}(T)} = \lim_{T \to \{p\}} \ \frac{\int\!\!\!\int_{x^{-1}(T)} \langle n_1 \times n_2, n\rangle \,ds\,dt}{\int\!\!\!\int_{x^{-1}(T)} \sqrt {\det \left(g_{ij}\right)} \,ds\,dt},\] which was typed using LaTeX commands, and is displayed properly in this web page because this page is linked to the MathJAX server.

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Bard Project Style

This style file, called bardproj.sty, is designed for both Bard senior projects and Bard M.A.T. mathematics research projects. This style file takes care of a number of formatting issues for such projects, such as the title page, dedication, acknowledgements and correct margins; it also includes formatting for theorems, definitions and the like, as well as a few miscellaneous items. There is a template and a brief manual (available in both LaTeX and PDF formats) for this style file. Click below to download these files.

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Bard Poster Style

This style file, called bardposter.sty, is designed for posters to be used at events such as the Bard Senior Projects Poster Session. There is a template, a brief manual (available in both LaTeX and PDF formats), and a sample poster (available in both LaTeX and PDF formats) for this style file. Click below to download these files.

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Bard Presentation Style

This style file, called bardpresentation.sty, is designed for public presentations to be given with a projector hooked up to a computer. This style file is an add-on to the seminar.sty presentation style, and it enables the user to make simple PDF presentations that can be displayed using Adobe Acrobat Reader, without need for Microsoft Powerpoint. (Making presentations in LaTeX is better suited for mathematical symbols than Powerpoint, and it allows text to be cut-and-pasted from other LaTeX documents, though the fancy formatting of Powerpoint is not available.). Click below to download these files.

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Bard Homework Style

This style file, called bardhw.sty, is designed for homework assignments. There is a template and a brief manual (available in both LaTeX and PDF formats) for this style file. Click below to download these files.

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Various Useful LaTeX Packages

There exist a large number of LaTeX packages for various purposes that can be downloaded. Available below are a few of the packages that I have found particularly useful. A good place to look for more packages is at the TeX site of the American Mathematical Society listed above.

  • amsrefs.sty, an excellent package for making bibliographies in LaTeX.
  • color.sty, a package that allows for the use of colored text and background.
  • fancybox.sty, a package that makes exactly what its title says.
  • moreverb.sty, a package that has a number of different environments for verbatim text, esepcially useful for simulating computer code.
  • shadow.sty, a package that makes shadows for boxes.
  • seminar.cls, a package formats slides for presentations; for even easier formatting, use this package in conjunction with the Bard Presentation Style, found above.
  • type1cm.sty, a package that allows fonts to be scaled to arbitrary sizes.
  • verbatim.sty, a very useful package, which allows for lengthy verbatim text, and for commenting out large sections of text.
  • vmargin.sty, a package that allows for better control of page size and margins.

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Spell Checking LaTeX Documents

Using a regular spell checker for LaTeX documents is very frustrating, because a regular spell checker will identify as a spelling error most LaTeX commands, and also many collections of symbols inside mathematical formulae. To avoid this problem, a LaTeX-aware spell checker must be used. There are a number of free LaTeX-aware spell checkers that can be downloaded from the web. We list one for Windows and one for Macs. Both spell checkers can be set to ignore all LaTeX commands, and everything inside environments such as $\$ ... \$$, and $\$\$ ... \$\$$, and $\text{\begin{align}} ... \text{\end{align}}$.

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