I cannot get more explicit! After having silently suffered my entire life writing out stuff in Word, LaTeX (pronounced Lay-Tek) came to me as one of the best discoveries of my life!
Many people discover LATEX after years of struggling with wordprocessors and desktop publishing systems, and are amazed to find that TEX has been around for over 25 years and they hadn’t heard of it! Its not a conspiracy, just a well-kept secret known only to a few million people, as one anonymous user has put it. Perhaps a key to why it has remained so popular is that it removes the need to fiddle with the formatting while you write. Although playing around with fonts and formatting is attractive to the newcomer, it is completely counter-productive for the serious author or editor who wants to concentrate on writing ask any journalist or professional writer. In reply to a new TeX user’s concern about his slow pace of learning, sample this statement by a seasoned TeX user:
“No, the harder part might be writing, period. TEX/LATEX
is actually easy, once you relax and stop worrying about appearance as a be-all-and-end-all. Many people have become Word Processing Junkies and no longer write documents, they draw them, almost at the same level as a pre-literate 3-year old child might pretend to write a story, but is just creating a sequence of pictures with a pad of paper and box of Crayolas — this is perfectly normal and healthy in a 3-year old child who is being creative, but is of
questionable usefulness for, say, a grad student writing a Masters or PhD thesis or a business person writing a white paper, etc. For this reason, I strongly recommend not using any sort of fancy GUI crutch. Use a plain vanilla text editor and treat it like an old-fashioned typewriter. Dont waste time playing with your mouse. “
All thanks to Prof.Yogananda, former HOD of Maths at IISC. He held a workshop at Engineer’07 about LaTeX and its uses. It was there that I first got initiated to the new world of TeX.
And since then, there has been no looking back! I got hold of a large number of pdfs from the net and LAN and started studying it by myself. To my surprise, I found that it was too easy to learn! And moreover, it was actually helpful!
One of the most significant aspects of LaTeX is that it gives you complete control over how you want your document to look. So when you are writing something important, you dont have to worry whether you are typing it in the right place or not or whether the formatting is right! Essentially a programming language, TeX has many unique features in itself. Like the fact that it will create the Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, Index-all by itself! You have so much flexibility that you can insert a whole new chapter in between two existing chapters without changing a single section or chapter numbering anywhere! It is truly an ingenious and versatile software.
And moreover, all the Ebooks about LaTeX are very informal and friendly in nature. They speak to you rather than just tell you what to do, which really helps. But I strongly advise all of you to have a number of E-books about TeX rather than just one or two. All are freely available on the net. One of the reasons as to why learning TeX can be a breeze is because you can learn only whatever you need to know! And save everything else to a later date.
Like one seasoned TeX user put it, “The important thing is that it is beautiful and at the same time really useful!”
For all you MS Word fans out there or those who simply do not know what LaTeX is, trust me when I say that every student on this planet should know LaTeX!