[OS X TeX] More basic questions

Maarten Sneep maarten.sneep at xs4all.nl
Sun Jan 30 17:49:15 EST 2005

On 30 jan 2005, at 21:24, cormullion wrote:

> 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.

Most of the time, the high-level LaTeX commands can produce what you
need. Sometimes a little understanding of the TeX commands is helpful,
but for most it takes a long time to hit the wall in LaTeX. That said,
I occasionally use some TeX commands when writing somewhat more
complicated LaTeX Macros. Most of the time, you're better of relying on
macros others have written. I'd advise you to learn how to search on
this web-site to find the LaTeX package to scratch your itch.

So, while TeXnically you can use the TeX commands, I'd say that most of
the time you're better off with LaTeX (especially when it comes to
error descriptions and such).

> 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.

I'm not sure if that is part of the TeX-fat.dmg file you've used. In
i-Installer it is an optional part, because of the download size. You
could try "texdoc grfguide" in the terminal. If you get a description
of the graphics packages, I think you have at least some of the
documentation. Since you're on dial-up, I guess you didn't install all
the manuals.

> 3 How do I know which packages I have? I don’t know my way around
> TEX-related directories too well at present.

To see if a particular package is installed, you can use the kpsewhich
command-line tool. You can also use this to verify that a package you
installed yourself can be found by LaTeX. Try 'kpsewhich graphics.sty'
and you'll get the full path to the graphics package. If there is no
response, the package is not installed, cannot be found, or you made a
typo. Note that you have to give the full name (.sty for packages, .cls
for document classes).

You could also use the Finder, start from /Library/teTeX (there should
be a link at that location pointing to a normally invisible location
where all of TeX lives).

All installed packages are contained within
/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/tex/latex
/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.local/tex/latex
/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex/tex/latex
make a listing of the directorier and files within those, and you'll
have some idea of what's available. On my system, about 257, plus the
packages I installed myself.

> 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?

Get a good book, start here: http://www.esm.psu.edu/mac-tex/refs.shtml

If you're really unsure: start with the plain article class, and if it
works there, it is most likely part of the core LaTeX system. If it
fails, it is part of some package, and adding them one by one will tell

> 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?

Actually it is something to avoid, as it will conflict with other
systems, and may even prevent typesetting from the command-line or
within BBEdit. What is standard (and that is why this may fail) is if
you put %&latex as the first line, the plain tex application will know
it needs to load the latex macros before proceeding. The same works for
other formats (or rather: used to work, as tex is linked to, well, tex,
whereas the other formats are using pdfetex, which will break this nice
scheme (to some extend).

My advice, do not rely on any %& lines, but write a normal comment as
to which format to use, just to remind yourself if you come back to a
project a few years from now.

> 6 How easy is it to change - say - the book class in Latex so that:
>     - the title matter is left-justified rather than centred
Not so easy, I usually design my title-pages separately, but I think
there are packages out there
that do this with ease. Others here may have better ideas on that.

>     - all fonts are - say - Times Roman and Helvetica
\usepackage{mathptmx}
\usepackage[scaled=.90]{helvet}
\usepackage{courier}
to the preamble of your document, and your fonts are changed to
times, helvetica and courier.
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{textcomp}
as well.
>     - all headings are Helvetica
Easy, if the titlesec and titletoc packages works as advertised.
>     - section and subsection headings are _not_ numbered, but chapters
> are?
Very easy, but it depends on the exact documentclass you use. For the
standard book class:
add \setcounter{secnumdepth}{0} to the preamble (higher numbers
will continue the numbering to deeper levels)
chapters and sections.

> Making some or all of these changes would allow me to produce
> documents in TEX that conform well to the existing standards I follow.

I would suggest you get comfortable with putting content in LaTeX
first, and worry about the layout later. LaTeX is powerful enough to be
able to produce most design specifications you care to throw at it,
although sometimes in a different document class (as opposed to a
standard documentclass, enhanced with many packages).

While writing, please suppress the urge to use \textit{} directly in
your text, but label a phrase as what it is or needs: \emph{} is for
emphasis, but you can make your own:
command \Trademark{}, that sets all the text you define as a trademark
in a sans-serif font, with an added ™. You you want it in bold sans
serif later on, this is easy.

If you describe the type of documents you produce, we might be able to
suggest further packages for your writing pleasure.

Maarten
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