Primer for an Ancient Typesetting Language
Slides in PDF format are available here.
Back when I was a student, I found myself gazing into the abyss of Microsoft Word with alarming frequency. A multi-hour session with that program could erode anyone's mental stability. So, in an effort to retain my sanity, I learned the LaTeX typesetting language.
Those of you who use LaTeX may be laughing at that last sentence. Indeed, LaTeX can be fairly described as abstruse, arcane, and archaic. Yet it's also the tool I now reach for whenever I need to write printed work. It has advantages that I haven't found anywhere else.
- It's plain text.
- It's programmable.
- Write your own functions that do stuff to the text.
- Use modules and templates written by other people.
- It's ancient and stable.
- In the 5 years I've been using LaTeX, I have never seen anything change.
- I have read 10 year old documentation that's not out of date.
- I have never had any issues with version incompatibility.
- There are many tools and resources for working with LaTeX.
In 2016 I prepared materials for an introductory workshop on LaTeX. That workshop ended up never happening, but the slides and examples might still be useful to someone getting started with LaTeX.
Until something better comes along, LaTeX is what I will continue to use for any amount of serious printed writing.