• LaTeX is (mainly) a language for describing the structure of a document, not its visual appearence.
    • The visual appearance is determined by document styles and parameters (easy to replace/configure).
    • Do not abuse LaTeX commands for visual formatting.
  • Supports great mathematical typesetting.
  • Various backends, most widely used: pdflatex
pdflatex main.tex
bibtex main (BibLaTeX: biber main)
pdflatex main.tex
pdflatex maintex


Useful Document Classes

Useful Packages

Common Mistakes

  • Not using "inputenc" and "fontenc"
Allows you to use Umlaute etc. in LaTeX source text.
  • Using \\ to end/separate paragraphs
    • Empty lines separate paragraphs; the document style determines how far they are apart.
  • Using "..." to quote phrases
    • Correct (in English): ``....'' (two single back quotes and two normal quotes)
    • Best: \enquote{...} (can be configured)
  • Using - to denote range ("3-5"):
    • "-" is intra-word-separator, "--" denotes range, "---" denotes dash in sentence.
  • Using just "." to denote abbreviation ("St. Joseph")
    • Write "St.\ Joseph" to avoid interpretation of "." as end of sentence.
    • Consider "St.~Joseph" when appropriate: ~ is a space where no linebreak will happen.
  • Inlining tables or pictures in text.
    • Use the "table" and "figure" environments.
  • Trying to manually place figures by "\begin{figure}[h]"
    • Let LaTex place the figure, only move the environment within text to "suggest" places
  • Writing  "see the figure below"
    • The figure is not placed where the environment appears in the source code
  • Writing "see Figure 5"
    • Use \label, \ref, \pageref
  • Writing "see Figure \ref{myfig}"
    • Write "see Figure~\ref{myfig}" to avoid possible line break after "Figure".
  • Forgetting the math mode ("we then have a+b=c").
    • "we then have $a+b=c$"
  • Using $var$ to denote a multi-letter variable
    • Denotes product of three variables v a r
    • Use $\mathit{var}$
  • Writing manually reference section (the "\thebibliography" environment)
    • Use bibtex (command "bibtex") or  biblatex (command "biber")
  • Using "title = {My Title}" in bibtex
    • Use "title = {{My Title}}" to preserve capitalization.
  • Having unresolved references or citations:
    • Look at the LaTeX warnings!
  • Forgetting to update references or citations:
    • After last change, run latex at least twice.
    • Note warnings about possibly modified references.
  • Hardcoding frequently occurring patterns/notations in paper.
    • Use "\newcommand" to introduce named macros.
  • Manipulating page sizes manually.
    • If you really have to, use KOMA-Script's "DIV=<Nr>" option.
  • Having (in the final document) line or page overflows/underflows.
    • Note the warnings. Underflows may be forgivable, overflows are not.
  • Having spelling errors in the final document.
    • Use a spelling checker! (Linux: "ispell")
Last modified: Thursday, 21 March 2019, 4:41 PM