LaTeX is a very famous typesetting tool used widely among technical and scientific report writing. Started by Donald Knuth as TeX, LaTeX is just one of the variants. In essence, it helps convert a normal text like document written in say notepad, to a beautifully formatted pdf, with a lot of functionality.
The main advantages of LaTeX can be put down as:
- Layout, Fonts, Tables, etc. remain consistent and you dont have to worry about them.
- Writing Mathematical formulae was never so easy 🙂
- It generates the Table of Contents, Table of Figures, Footnotes, Bibliography, Citations to Bibliography, Figure and Table numbers, Chapter, Section, Subsection, Equation Numbers, etc. in a aesthetically pleasing and technically right way.
- Structuring of documents, purposely inserting page breaks etc. is not an issue anymore.
- Specially meant for changing the document style and submitting to journals / conferences which have a specific formatting. Its a change of 1 line job!
- And, to top it, its available across all widely used platforms.
The only disadvantages I can think of are:
- Should have had a nice combination of a WYSIWYG and text mode (try LyX or TeXnic Centre or Kile)
- Spelling check needs to be integrated (use aspell when on Linux)
This is not meant to be a comprehensive tutorial, as many can be found online, the most famous being
- Getting started with LaTeX2e – a very good starter’s guide and
- LaTeX 2e in Short (lshort)