Monday, April 9, 2012

Tip: LaTeX Templates

Do you use LaTeX? It is a wonderful text creation system, often used for scientific publications but useful for much else as well. The results are so ridiculously beautiful it's almost jarring whenever you see a normal word processor document next to the LaTeX version.

LaTeX comes with good support right out of the box for basic document styles. And if you write a research paper, the conference or journal will often have a predetermined style file you simply download and use. But for many other things it can be difficult to get a good document design — you'll have to search the web for scattered style files and examples, or try to design it yourself with predictably lousy results.

LaTeX Templates is looking to change that. It's a collection of high-quality template documents ranging from theses, to CV and cover letters to calendars, notebooks and reports. It's not a large collection yet, but what is there is of high quality and promises to grow over time.

You can use a document template as-is, or tweak it anyway you want. Or use them for inspiration and tips on how to achieve special typographic tricks in LaTeX without spending hours looking all over the net.

(Crossposted to G+)

4 comments:

Dave said...

Nice repository: thanks for the link!

Like most people, I'm sure, I have built my own collection of templates for documents, reports and letters. It took me a while to admit to myself that even something as basic as a 3-line letter to some random administration might benefit from LaTeX, but after one time too many trying to pick a halfway-decent MS Word Template for that, I caved and haven't opened typed a single letter with Word ever since.

Unfortunately, you may also be familiar with how incredibly painful it is to get LaTeX to play nice with Japanese. In particular the fact that it just doesn't seem to understand 21st century concepts of text encoding (Unicode etc.) makes it increasingly harder to keep my 100% LaTeX policy...

Jan Moren said...

LaTeX in Japanese can be a problem. I don't remember exactly how I solved it in ubuntu anymore, but basically I added the Japanese repositories and replaced the international version of the LaTeX and related packages with the already set-up Japanese ones. Most of the problem for me really was in seeing the finished PDF rather than getting LaTeX to output Japanese.

I'll have to look into that again next month when I get Ubuntu 12.04; I'm doing a reinstall instead of an upgrade.

Anyway, you do know Unicode isn't a great solution for Japanese? There's a reason most Japanese text uses other encodings still.

George said...

I remember having some interest in LaTeX (together with typography) back in January. I finished my project and discovered that zotero had BibTeX output. But that wouldn't work with Libre Office (anyways didn't have the time)... I spent a day with the bibliographic references.

Between you, my math teacher and some of my browsing I got interest in it. I downloaded a WYSIWYG editor (TeXmacs) but it drove me crazy and I passed learning it. Doing it the "proper way" seems overwhelming.

I should learn LaTeX, just for the future. I agree that it's output is beautiful.

At last, your tips about this were very helpful, thanks for them. Rediscovering Zotero was very helpful.

Dave said...

@Janne: I think the question of what encoding is best for Japanese (and whether Unicode is it) can easily devolve into a holy war (one that manages to mix computers *and* geopolitics)...
But as for me, after over a decade dealing with the usual mess of Japanese encodings and the nightmares they cause, I am now a pro-Unicode zealot. It would take some serious arguments to convince me to ever work with anything but UTF8/UTF16...

LaTeX has a whole bunch of Japanese-support versions (all different, all incompatible between each others), but to this day nothing close to resembling universal unicode support. This is something that could be overlooked 10 years ago, not really anymore :-/