[OS X TeX] More basic questions

Joseph C. Slater joseph.slater at wright.edu
Sun Jan 30 16:14:44 EST 2005

On Jan 30, 2005, at 3:24 PM, cormullion wrote:

> Could someone spare a few moments to help clear up some confusion? 
> I’ve been reading TEX-related material for a few days, and a few areas 
> remain occluded. (If this is the wrong list, please send me to a more 
> suitable one!)
> 1 Is LATEX built on top of TEX to the extent that you can use both TEX 
> and LATEX instructions together? The documents I’ve read tend to 
> assume one or the other - I’ve not seen them mixed - at least, I 
> wouldn’t know whether I have or not.

Using TeX commands inside LaTeX can be precarious if you don't know 
what you're doing. I don't, so I don't. :) TeX is rather hard-core. 
Honestly, I'd use MSWord before using plain TeX (Granted, every other 
tool in the world comes in between LaTeX and MSWord), but I'm not as 
capable as many (especially the TeXperts on this list).

> 2 Is there any ‘installed’ documentation or reference material that is 
> ‘part of’ the installation? I’m happy to Google things but wonder 
> whether there’s something closer to home that’s part of the install.

Yes. See /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/doc . However, Google is 
often just as fast or faster.
> 3 How do I know which packages I have? I don’t know my way around 
> TEX-related directories too well at present.

 From the command prompt, type:
locate .sty
You may need to rebuild the database by doing the following as root 
(using sudo)
     touch "${locdb}"; chown nobody "${locdb}"; chmod 644 "${locdb}"
     echo /usr/libexec/locate.updatedb | nice -5 su -fm nobody 2>&1 | 
sed -e '/Permission denied/d'
     chmod 444 "${locdb}"

sudo /bin/sh /etc/weekly
(does some other stuff. This is stuff that gets done weekly if your 
machine is on when it decides to do it. If it's off, it never gets 
> 4 All the commands that people use in their various examples appear to 
> exist in the same namespace. How can you tell which commands come from 
> which packages? Eg, if I see a command “\makebox”, how do I know what 
> package or system it’s part of?

There's no easy way, but google is likely the best. Hopefully people do 
point out which packages need to be used for a given command. If not, 
try it and see if it exists without a package needing to be used.

> 5 I’ve noticed that in TeXShop it makes sense to put a line at the 
> beginning (eg %&program=xelatex). This doesn’t seem to be very 
> standard, since it rarely appears in the examples I see (which fail 
> for various reasons). Is it a documented standard?

Got me. I think the answer is "kind of"... which is just as useless.

> 6 How easy is it to change - say - the book class in Latex so that:
>     - the title matter is left-justified rather than centred

See the LaTeX Companion. They cover this kind of stuff.

>     - all fonts are - say - Times Roman and Helvetica
\usepackage{times} %(doesn't change math fonts, someone else can help 
more, I'm sure. I think you need to buy fonts from Blue Sky to get the 
math fonts. )
>     - all headings are Helvetica

After the above, this is relatively easy (secsty can help with this)

>     - section and subsection headings are _not_ numbered, but chapters 
> are?

\usepackage{sectsty} I think (see docs)

Easy is relative. If you know how to do it, it is. If not, well, it 
depends on your resourcefulness. However, I don't think any of these 
things are exceptionally difficult.

> Making some or all of these changes would allow me to produce 
> documents in TEX that conform well to the existing standards I follow.
> many thanks if you can help with some of these (no doubt naive) 
> questions.

I have my own naive questions. They'll be coming when my publisher 
starts telling me that the standard book class stinks (I just assume 
they will... I'm thinking positive...)

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