[OS X TeX] More basic questions

Stephan Hochhaus stephan at yauh.de
Sun Jan 30 16:29:21 EST 2005

> 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.
LaTeX is a macro package for TeX. Its goal is to simplify the use of  
TeX by offering a "user-understandable" interface. You could use TeX  
and LaTeX commandos in the same document, but it is not advisable.  
Getting around in plain TeX is really complicated and there are way too  
many commands that one could remember them all correctly. So try to use  
LaTeX whenever possible, TeX will most likely only be used for some  
layout adjustments that just can't be achieved by LaTeX.

> 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.
Slightly outdated (the link especially) but I swear I'll fix it up in  

> 3 How do I know which packages I have? I don’t know my way around  
> TEX-related directories too well at present.
You mean macro packages like .sty files? Or i-Installer installed  

> 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?
Since a package just provides another set of macros it is not exactly  
the same namespace. For example, the package lscape give you an  
environment called landscape that is not existant in the core tex  
packages. There is only one macro definition possible, if I remember  
correctly TeX uses the last when in doubt.
A makebox at the other hand is no macro but a command. Imagine TeX as a  
programming language (which it actually is, in contrast to LaTeX, which  
is a macro language, but we already established that). Therefore you  
can use an operator or command on different points in your  

> 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?
I'll pass on this one.

> 6 How easy is it to change - say - the book class in Latex so that:
On a scale from 1 to 10 where 10 is the most difficult?
>     - the title matter is left-justified rather than centred
3 (don't know if a "simple" renewcommand in the preamble of your  
document would do but I guess so)
>     - all fonts are - say - Times Roman and Helvetica
1 (think usepackage)
>     - all headings are Helvetica
2 (think renewcommand)
>     - section and subsection headings are _not_ numbered, but chapters  
> are?
3 (similar to the title matter)

> Making some or all of these changes would allow me to produce  
> documents in TEX that conform well to the existing standards I follow.
Those changes are rather easy, all you have to do is dig up some of the  
excellent documentation or check in with a TeX mailinglist (just like  
this one, except that it deals with Mac OS X specifics rather than  
(La)TeX basics, but we deal with them as well when they come along).

Happy TeX'ing!

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