[OS X TeX] Imposing Latex on authors of articles

Anthony Morton amorton at fastmail.fm
Tue Feb 26 19:57:08 EST 2008

> Many LaTeX-aware text editors have buttons and menus to help users  
> put in the mathematical content correctly. I concur with some of the  
> earlier posters that, despite the learning curve, maths is much  
> easier to input in LaTeX than in Word.

That's also my experience.  As I see it, the way mathematical formulae  
are entered in LaTeX doesn't really deserve the bad rap it sometimes  
gets.  The logic of LaTeX formulae is identical to that of a good  
equation editor; the only difference is it's expressed in a text  
stream rather than through menu buttons (and as Luci says, with a good  
front-end program you can still get the menu buttons if you want them).

Remember, for simple formulae you type them in pretty much as you  
would in a casual email:

	y = 3x + x^2.

If you need to put a formula under a square root sign, then in  
Microsoft Equation Editor you would press the button for the square- 
root template and type the formula inside the template.  In LaTeX you  
do the same thing, only instead of pressing a button you just type  
\sqrt{} and put your formula inside the braces:

	y = \sqrt{ 3x + x^2 }.

In TeXshop using the Latex panel, you press the square-root button and  
that inserts the \sqrt{} for you and lets you start typing inside the  
braces.  Alternatively you select the formula you want to square-root  
and it will get wrapped up inside the \sqrt{}.

And it works the same way for other constructs: fractions, sums,  
integrals, superscripts and subscripts and so on.

Certainly the text medium takes some getting used to, but that's  
usually just a passing phase.  After a while you find that not only is  
it quicker to compose an equation in LaTeX, it's also a lot easier to  
rearrange later on.  Suppose you've got a formula involving a fraction  
A/B of two complicated expressions, and you then find what you really  
want is 1/B out the front of the equation and just A in the middle -  
this requires much care and effort in most equation editors but is a  
relatively simple edit in LaTeX.

As often as not, any half-complicated edit in Microsoft Equation  
Editor will leave me with a confusing mess of not-quite-deleted  
characters on the screen.

Tony M.

More information about the MacOSX-TeX mailing list