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Documentation and Help

Books on TeX and its relations

While Knuth's book is the definitive reference for TeX, there are other books covering TeX:

The TeXbook
by Donald Knuth (Addison-Wesley, 1984, ISBN 0-201-13447-0, paperback ISBN 0-201-13448-9)
A Beginner's Book of TeX
by Raymond Seroul and Silvio Levy, (Springer Verlag, 1992, ISBN 0-387-97562-4)
Introduction to TeX
by Norbert Schwarz (Addison-Wesley, 1989, ISBN 0-201-51141-X)
A Plain TeX Primer
by Malcolm Clark (Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBNs 0-198-53724-7 (hardback) and 0-198-53784-0 (paperback))
TeX by Topic
by Victor Eijkhout (Addison-Wesley, 1992, ISBN 0-201-56882-9)
TeX for the Beginner
by Wynter Snow (Addison-Wesley, 1992, ISBN 0-201-54799-6)
TeX for the Impatient
by Paul W. Abrahams, Karl Berry and Kathryn A. Hargreaves (Addison-Wesley, 1990, ISBN 0-201-51375-7)
TeX in Practice
by Stephan von Bechtolsheim (Springer Verlag, 1993, 4 volumes, ISBN 3-540-97296-X for the set, or Vol. 1: 0-387-97595-0, Vol. 2: 0-387-97596-9, Vol. 3: 0-387-97597-7, and Vol. 4: 0-387-97598-5)
TeX: Starting from Square One
by Michael Doob (Springer Verlag, 1993, ISBN 3-540-56441-1)
The Advanced TeXbook
by David Salomon (Springer Verlag, 1995, ISBN 0-387-94556-3)
For LaTeX, see:
LaTeX, a Document Preparation System
by Leslie Lamport (second edition, Addison Wesley, 1994, ISBN 0-201-15790-X)
A guide to LaTeX2e
Helmut Kopka and Patrick W. Daly (third edition, Addison-Wesley, 1998, ISBN 0-201-39825-7)
The LaTeX Companion
by Michel Goossens, Frank Mittelbach, and Alexander Samarin (Addison-Wesley, 1993, ISBN 0-201-54199-8)
The LaTeX Graphics Companion:
Illustrating documents with TeX and PostScript by Michel Goossens, Sebastian Rahtz and Frank Mittelbach (Addison-Wesley, 1997, ISBN 0-201-85469-4)
LaTeX Notes:
Practical Tips for Preparing Technical Documents by J. Kenneth Shultis (Prentice Hall, 1994, ISBN 0-131-20973-6)
LaTeX Line by Line
by Antoni Diller (John Wiley & Sons, 1993, ISBN 0-471-93471-2)
LaTeX for Scientists and Engineers
by David J. Buerger (McGraw-Hill, 1990, ISBN 0-070-08845-4)
TeX Unbound:
LaTeX and TeX strategies for fonts, graphics, and more by Alan Hoenig (Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-19-509685-1 hardback, ISBN 0-19-509686-X paperback)
Math into TeX:
A Simplified Introduction using AMS-LaTeX by George Grätzer (Birkhäuser, 1993, ISBN 0-817-63637-4, or, in Germany, ISBN 3-764-33637-4)
Math into LaTeX:
An Introduction to LaTeX and AMS-LaTeX by George Grätzer (Birkhäuser, 1996, ISBN 0-817-63805-9)
Of the list, Lamport's, the two LaTeX Companions, Kopka and Daly's, and Grätzer's ``Math into LaTeX'' cover LaTeX2e. A sample of the last, in Adobe Acrobat format, is also available (info/mil/mil.pdf).

The list for METAFONT is rather short:

by Donald Knuth (Addison Wesley, 1986, ISBN 0-201-13445-4, ISBN 0-201-52983-1 paperback)
A book covering a wide range of topics (including installation and maintenance) is:
Making TeX Work
by Norman Walsh (O'Reilly and Associates, Inc, 1994, ISBN 1-56592-051-1)

This list only covers books in English: UK TUG cannot hope to maintain a list of books in languages other than our own.

Where to find this article

Bobby Bodenheimer's article, from which the present one was developed, used to be posted (nominally monthly) to newsgroup comp.text.tex and cross-posted to newsgroups news.answers and comp.answers. The most recently posted copy of that article is kept on CTAN in directory obsolete/help; it is no longer kept in the news.answers archives.

The sources of the article are available from usergrps/uktug/faq

Both the Francophone TeX usergroup Gutenberg and the Czech/Slovak usergroup CS-TUG have published translations of this FAQ, with extensions appropriate to their languages.

In addition, the German usergroup Dante posts a FAQ in German to de.comp.tex, which is archived as usergrps/dante/de-tex-faq, and Marie-Paule Kluth posts a FAQ in French to fr.comp.text.tex, which is archived as help/LaTeX-FAQ-francaise

Mailing lists about TeX and its friends

There are (still) people who can use networks but can't read Usenet news; for them, not all is lost if they can send and receive email.

The TeXhax digest is operated as a mailing list. Send a message `subscribe texhax' to texhax-request@tex.ac.uk to join it. Its turn-around is not rapid, but questions submitted to it do eventually get answered.

Announcements of TeX-related installations on the CTAN archives are sent to the mailing list ctan-ann. Subscribe to the list by sending a message `subscribe ctan-ann <your name>' to listserv@urz.Uni-Heidelberg.de

Issues related to METAFONT (and, increasingly, MetaPost) are discussed on the metafont mailing list; subscribe by sending a message `subscribe metafont <your name>' to listserv@ens.fr

Several other TeX-related lists may be accessed via listserv@urz.uni-heidelberg.de. Send a message containing the line `help' to this address.

BibTeX Documentation

BibTeX, a program originally designed to produce bibliographies in conjunction with LaTeX, is explained in Section 4.3 and Appendix B of Leslie Lamport's LaTeX manual (see TeX-related books). The document ``BibTeXing'', contained in the file btxdoc.tex, gives a more complete description. The LaTeX Companion (see TeX-related books) also has information on BibTeX and writing BibTeX style files.

The document ``Designing BibTeX Styles'', contained in the file btxhak.tex, explains the postfix stack-based language used to write BibTeX styles (.bst files). The file btxbst.doc is the template for the four standard styles (plain, abbrv, alpha, unsrt). It also contains their documentation. The complete BibTeX documentation set (including the files above) is in biblio/bibtex/distribs/doc

There is a Unix BibTeX man page in the web2c package (see TeX systems). Any copy you may find of a man page written in 1985 (before ``BibTeXing'' and ``Designing BibTeX Styles'' appeared) is obsolete, and should be thrown away.

The PicTeX manual

PicTeX is a set of macros by Michael Wichura for drawing diagrams and pictures. The macros are freely available in graphics/pictex; however, the PicTeX manual itself is not free. Unfortunately, TUG is no longer able to supply copies of the manual (as it once did), and it is now available only through Personal TeX Inc, the vendors of PCTeX (http://www.pctex.com/). The manual is not available electronically.

Finding (La)TeX macro packages

Before you ask for a TeX macro or LaTeX class or package file to do something, try searching Graham Williams' (Graham.Williams@dit.csiro.au) catalogue, available as help/Catalogue/catalogue.html, or for efficient interactive searching via http://www.tex.ac.uk/tex-archive/help/Catalogue/ctindex.html; this lists many macro packages together with brief descriptive texts.

Having learnt of a file that seems interesting, search a CTAN archive for it (see finding files on CTAN). For packages listed in The LaTeX Companion the file info/companion.ctan may be consulted as an alternative to searching the archive's index. It lists the current location in the archive of such files.

An alternative procedure is to use http://ctan.tug.org/ctan/, which permits limited `keyword' searching for files on the CTAN sites.

Finding files in the CTAN archives

To find software at a CTAN site, you can use anonymous ftp to the host with the command `quote site index <term>', or the searching script at http://www.dante.de/cgi-bin/ctan-index

To get the best use out of the ftp facility you should remember that <term> is a Regular Expression and not a fixed string, and also that many files are distributed in source form with an extension different to the final file. (For example LaTeX packages are often distributed sources with extension dtx rather than as package files with extension sty.)

One should make the regular expresion general enough to find the file you are looking for, but not too general, as the ftp interface will only return the first 20 lines that match your request.

The following examples illustrate these points. To search for the LaTeX package `caption', you might use the command:

  quote site index caption.sty

but it will fail to find the desired package (which is distributed as caption.dtx) and does return unwanted `hits' (such as hangcaption.sty). Also, although this example does not show it the `.' in `caption.sty' is used as the regular expression that matches any character. So

  quote site index doc.sty

matches such unwanted files as language/swedish/slatex/doc2sty/makefile

Of course if you know the package is stored as .dtx you can search for that name, but in general you may not know the extension used on the archive. The solution is to add `/' to the front of the package name and `\\. to the end. This will then search for a file name that consists solely of the package name between the directory separator and the extension. The two commands:

  quote site index /caption\\.
  quote site index /doc\\.

do narrow the search down sufficiently. (In the case of doc, a few extra files are found, but the list returned is sufficiently small to be easily inspected.)

If the search string is too wide and too many files would match, the list will be truncated to the first 20 items found. Using some knowledge of the CTAN directory tree you can usually narrow the search sufficiently. As an example suppose you wanted to find a copy of the dvips driver for MS-DOS. You might use the command:

  quote site index dvips

but the result would be a truncated list, not including the file you want. (If this list were not truncated 412 items would be returned!) However we can restrict the search to MS-DOS related drivers as follows.

  quote site index msdos.*dvips

Which just returns relevant lines such as systems/msdos/dviware/dvips/dvips5528.zip

A basic introduction to searching with regular expressions is:

For technical reasons in the quote site index command, you need to `double' any \ hence the string /caption\\. in the above example. The quote site command ignores the case of letters. Searching for caption or CAPTION would produce the same result.

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