The One with the Thoughts of Frans

Some Notes on LaTeX

Because LaTeX offers nice typesetting, bibliography management, and most Linux distributions make it easy to play around with, I decided to experiment with the LaTeX basics. To get started on Debian and derivatives, the easiest option is to install the texlive package, which will pull in all the basics. Here’s a quick list of things that might be useful:

  • texlive: the basics.
  • pandoc, hevea, latex2html: pandoc can convert between a great many formats, the other two merely try to transform LaTeX into HTML.
  • texmaker, texworks: both seem to be good editors. Also of interest are Kile and Gummi.
  • lyx: a what you see is what you mean editor. Could be interesting as an alternative to LibreOffice Writer or Abiword.
  • jabref, biblatex, biber (not on Squeeze): JabRef is a BibLatex editor, something that makes citations easy. Biber is a superior modern Biblatex replacement which uses the same file format.
  • texlive-lang-dutch (Dutch hyphenation patterns): alter for your own languages, or just install texlive-lang-all.
  • texlive-fonts-extra: if you want some extra fonts to play with.

texlive-fonts-extra requires running (sudo) getnonfreefonts-sys -a to actually get most of them to work. Unfortunately it’s missing in Ubuntu 12.10. As a workaround we can get it straight from the horse’s mouth. However, it has some issues logging in as anonymous to the FTP, so we need to use HTTP instead: sudo getnonfreefonts-sys -H -aThe problem seems to have been fixed. sudo getnonfreefonts-sys -a will do.

pandoc and hevea seem to produce the best HTML. Unfortunately HeVeA doesn’t work with BibLaTeX, while pandoc sort of does. However, it needs a little coaxing.

pandoc GNL3-2012-2013.tex -o output.html --bibliography boeken.bib -s --toc

-o outputs to a file
–bibliography specifies the bibliography file to use, which isn’t automatically taken from the LaTeX file
–toc neither is the insertion of the TOC
-s creates a standalone file; is required for the title page and the TOC to be inserted.

It’s not quite ideal though.

Texmaker and modern times

In Texmaker you can simply replace the pdflatex line with luatex and you’ll be good to go.

To replace bibtex with biber, also make sure to remove the file extension. So instead of bibtex %.aux, we use biber %. Something similar applies to TeXworks.

Now that all the software is set up, you can start using LaTeX. There’s a very useful Wikibook about LaTeX. Or you can ignore all of the above and look into ConTeXt, which I understand should be easier to stylistically manipulate.


  1. The package texlive-humanities has some useful stuff, among which lineno.

    I don’t care for rewriting text to fix overfull hboxes. A global or localized \setlength{\emergencystretch}{2em} seems to fix all issues with terrific results, but of course your mileage may vary. Via Wiki Gagné • Lagüe.

    To get the bibliography listed in the table of contents, I use this:

    \usepackage[nottoc,numbib]{tocbibind} %bibliography in TOC

    April 9, 2013 @ 22:15Permalink

  2. Some of the most important fonts come under the somewhat unintuitive TeX-GYRE nomer. Here’s the description from the Ubuntu 12.10 tex-gyre package:

    The TeX Gyre Adventor family of fonts is based on the URW Gothic L
    family (designed by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase).

    The TeX Gyre Bonum family of fonts is based on the URW Bookman L family
    (designed by Alexander Phemister).

    The TeX Gyre Chorus font is based on URW Chancery L Medium Italic
    (designed by Hermann Zapf (ITC Zapf Chancery(R), 1979)).

    The TeX Gyre Cursor family is based on the URW Nimbus Mono L family
    (designed by Howard G. (Bud) Kettler in 1955 for the IBM corporation).

    The TeX Gyre Heros family of fonts is based on the URW Nimbus Sans L
    (prepared by Max Miedinger, with Eduard Hoffmann).

    The TeX Gyre Pagella family of fonts is based on the URW Palladio L
    family (designed by Hermann Zapf).

    The TeX Gyre Schola family of fonts is based on the URW Century
    Schoolbook L family (designed by Morris Fuller Benton).

    The TeX Gyre Termes is based on the URW Nimbus Roman No9 L family
    (designed by Stanley Morison together with Starling Burgess and
    Victor Lardent).

    The constituent 4 standard faces of each family have been greatly
    extended, and contain nearly 1200 glyphs each. Each family is
    available in Adobe Type 1 and Open Type formats, and LaTeX support
    (for use with a variety of encodings) is provided. Vietnamese
    characters were added by Han The Thanh.

    So if you’re forced to use Times New Roman, TeX Gyre Termes is likely the better choice. Want to go with Palatino? Use Pagella. And so on, and so forth. Nimbus Sans is more or less a clone of Helvetica, so Heros will do if that’s what you want to use. Oh, and you can also freely use all these as webfonts. Not bad, right?

    April 10, 2013 @ 14:48Permalink

  3. […] familiarized myself with LaTeX because I like HTML better than word processors. In fact, I disprefer word processors. LibreOffice […]

    November 7, 2013 @ 21:43Permalink
    Pandoc Markdown Over Straight LaTeX | The One with the Thoughts of Frans

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