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LaTeX

Contributor(s): M. Doherty

LaT E X (pronounced "lah-TEKH" and alternatively denoted as LaTeX), is a programming language that is used for typesetting technical data. It is popular among mathematicians, scientists, and engineers, because it facilitates the use of mathematical symbols and equations in text.

LaT E X is a variant of the more general document preparation system known as T E X (pronounced "TEKH" and alternatively denoted as TeX). There are several variants, also called "flavors," of T E X other than LaT E X, but LaT E X is the most widely used. All variants of T E X allow the placement of characters, expressions, and illustrations to within a tiny fraction of a millimeter on a display or printed page. The positional tolerance can be modified to match the resolution of any display or printer.

Like all the "flavors" of T E X, LaT E X is a markup language. In some ways, it resembles the HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) used to design Web sites. There are numerous formatting codes, and a casual glance at a complex mathematical document written in this language reveals arcane strings of commands and characters. Anyone desiring to use LaT E X faces a learning curve. There are numerous WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface programs available for use with LaT E X, but for the best results, it is necessary to learn the language itself.

This was last updated in September 2005

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