TeX (/ˈlɑːtɛx/ LAH-tekh or /ˈleɪtɛx/ LAY-tekh; a
shortening of Lamport TeX) is a document preparation system. When
writing, the writer uses plain text as opposed to the formatted text
WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") word processors like
LibreOffice Writer and Apple Pages. The writer uses
markup tagging conventions to define the general structure of a
document (such as article, book, and letter), to stylise text
throughout a document (such as bold and italics), and to add citations
and cross-references. A
TeX distribution such as
TeX Live or Mik
used to produce an output file (such as
PDF or DVI) suitable for
printing or digital distribution. Within the typesetting system, its
name is stylised as LaTeX.
TeX is widely used in academia for the communication and
publication of scientific documents in many fields, including
mathematics, statistics, computer science, engineering, chemistry,
physics, economics, linguistics, quantitative psychology, philosophy,
and political science. It also has a prominent role in the preparation
and publication of books and articles that contain complex
multilingual materials, such as Tamil,
Sanskrit and Greek. LaTeX
TeX typesetting program for formatting its output, and is
itself written in the
TeX macro language.
TeX can be used as a standalone document preparation system or as an
intermediate format. In the latter role, for example, it is sometimes
used as part of a pipeline for translating
DocBook and other XML-based
formats to PDF. The typesetting system offers programmable desktop
publishing features and extensive facilities for automating most
aspects of typesetting and desktop publishing, including numbering and
cross-referencing of tables and figures, chapter and section headings,
the inclusion of graphics, page layout, indexing and bibliographies.
Like TeX, La
TeX started as a writing tool for mathematicians and
computer scientists, but from early in its development it has also
been taken up by scholars who needed to write documents that include
complex math expressions or non-Latin scripts, such as Arabic,
Sanskrit and Chinese.
TeX is intended to provide a high-level language that accesses the
TeX in an easier way for writers. In short,
TeX handles the
layout side, while La
TeX handles the content side for document
TeX comprises a collection of
TeX macros and a program
to process La
TeX documents. Because the plain
TeX formatting commands
are elementary, it provides authors with ready-made commands for
formatting and layout requirements such as chapter headings,
footnotes, cross-references and bibliographies.
TeX was originally written in the early 1980s by
Leslie Lamport at
SRI International. The current version is LaTeX2e (stylised as
TeX is free software and is distributed under the LaTeX
Project Public License (LPPL).
3 Pronouncing and writing "LaTeX"
5 Related software
7 Compatibility and converters
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
TeX follows the design philosophy of separating presentation from
content, so that authors can focus on the content of what they are
writing without attending simultaneously to its visual appearance. In
preparing a La
TeX document, the author specifies the logical structure
using simple, familiar concepts such as chapter, section, table,
figure, etc., and lets the La
TeX system worry about the formatting and
layout of these structures. It therefore encourages the separation of
layout from content while still allowing manual typesetting
adjustments where needed. This concept is similar to the mechanism by
which many word processors allow styles to be defined globally for an
entire document or the use of
Cascading Style Sheets
Cascading Style Sheets to style HTML.
TeX system is a markup language that also handles typesetting
TeX can be arbitrarily extended by using the underlying macro
language to develop custom formats. Such macros are often collected
into packages, which are available to address special formatting
issues such as complicated mathematical content or graphics. Indeed,
in the example below, the align environment is provided by the amsmath
In order to create a document in LaTeX, you first write a file, say
document.tex, using your preferred text editor. Then you give your
document.tex file as input to the
TeX program (with the La
TeX writes out a file suitable for viewing onscreen or
printing. This write-format-preview cycle is one of the chief ways
in which working with La
TeX differs from what-you-see-is-what-you-get
word-processing. It is similar to the code-compile-execute cycle
familiar to computer programmers. Today, many LaTeX-aware editing
programs make this cycle a simple matter of pressing a single key,
while showing the output preview on the screen beside the input
window. Some online La
TeX editors automatically refresh the
preview. Other online tools provide incremental editing
in-place, mixed in with the preview in a streamlined single
The example below shows the La
TeX input and corresponding output:
TeX is a document preparation system for
TeX typesetting program. It offers
programmable desktop publishing features and
extensive facilities for automating most
aspects of typesetting and desktop publishing,
including numbering and cross-referencing,
tables and figures, page layout,
bibliographies, and much more. La
originally written in 1984 by Leslie Lamport
and has become the dominant method for using
TeX; few people write in plain
The current version is LaTeXe.
% This is a comment, not shown in final output.
% The following shows typesetting power of LaTeX:
E_0 &= mc^2 \
E &= frac mc^2 sqrt 1-frac v^2 c^2
Note how the equation for
(highlighted in the example code) was typeset by the markup:
E &= frac mc^2 sqrt 1-frac v^2 c^2
The square root is denoted by "sqrt argument " and fractions by "frac
numerator denominator ".
Pronouncing and writing "LaTeX"
The final consonant of
TeX (on which La
TeX is based) is intended by
its developer to be pronounced similar to 'loch' or 'Bach'. However,
English speakers often pronounce it /ˈtɛk/, like the first syllable
The characters T, E, X in the name come from the Greek capital letters
tau, epsilon, and chi, as the name of
TeX derives from the Greek:
τέχνη (skill, art, technique); for this reason, TeX's creator
Donald Knuth promotes a pronunciation of /tɛx/ (tekh) (that is,
with a voiceless velar fricative as in Modern Greek, similar to the ch
in loch). Lamport writes "
TeX is usually pronounced tech, making
lah-teck, lah-teck, and lay-teck the logical choices; but language is
not always logical, so lay-tecks is also possible."
The name is traditionally printed in running text with a special
typographical logo: LaTeX. In media where the logo cannot be precisely
reproduced in running text, the word is typically given the unique
capitalization LaTeX. The TeX, LaTeX and XeTeX logos can be
rendered via pure
CSS and X
HTML for use in graphical web browsers
following the specifications of the internal La
TeX is typically distributed along with plain TeX. It is distributed
under a free software license, the La
TeX Project Public License
(LPPL). The LPPL is not compatible with the GNU General Public
License, as it requires that modified files must be clearly
differentiable from their originals (usually by changing the
filename); this was done to ensure that files that depend on other
files will produce the expected behavior and avoid dependency hell.
The LPPL is DFSG compliant as of version 1.3. As free software, LaTeX
is available on most operating systems including
UNIX (Solaris, HP-UX,
BSD (FreeBSD, macOS, NetBSD, OpenBSD),
Linux (Red Hat, Debian,
Arch, Gentoo), Windows, DOS, RISC OS,
AmigaOS and Plan9.
As a macro package, La
TeX provides a set of macros for
interpret. There are many other macro packages for TeX, including
Plain TeX, GNU Texinfo, AMSTeX, and ConTeXt.
TeX "compiles" a document, it follows (from the user's point of
view) the following processing sequence: Macros →
TeX → Driver →
Output. Different implementations of each of these steps are typically
TeX distributions. Traditional
TeX will output a DVI
file, which is usually converted to a
PostScript file. More recently,
Hàn Thế Thành and others have written a new implementation of TeX
called pdfTeX, which also outputs to
PDF and takes advantage of
features available in that format. The Xe
TeX engine developed by
Jonathan Kew merges modern font technologies and Unicode with TeX.
The default font for La
TeX is Knuth's Computer Modern, which gives
default documents created with La
TeX the same distinctive look as
those created with plain TeX. Xe
TeX allows the use of OpenType and
TrueType (that is, outlined) fonts for output files.
There are also many editors for LaTeX.
Internet media type
Type of format
Document file format
LaTeX2e is the current version of LaTeX, since it replaced La
in 1994. As of 2014[update], LaTeX3, started in the early 1990s, is
under a long-term development project. Planned features include
improved syntax, hyperlink support, a new user interface, access to
arbitrary fonts, and new documentation.
There are numerous commercial implementations of the entire TeX
system. System vendors may add extra features like additional
typefaces and telephone support.
LyX is a free,
document processor that uses La
TeX for a back-end.
TeXmacs is a free,
WYSIWYG editor with similar functionalities as La
TeX but a different
typesetting engine. Other
WYSIWYG editors that produce La
Scientific Word on MS Windows.
A number of community-supported
TeX distributions are available,
TeX Live (multiplatform), te
TeX (deprecated in favor of TeX
Live, UNIX), fp
TeX (deprecated), MiK
TeX (Windows), proTeXt (Windows),
TeX Live with the addition of Mac specific programs), gwTeX
(Mac OS X), Oz
TeX (Mac OS Classic), Amiga
TeX (no longer available),
TeX (AmigaOS, available on the
Aminet repository), and Auto-Latex
Equations (Google Docs add-on that supports MathJax La
Compatibility and converters
TeX documents (*.tex) can be opened with any text editor. They
consist of plain text and do not contain hidden formatting codes or
binary instructions. Additionally,
TeX documents can be shared by
rendering the La
TeX file to
Rich Text Format (.rtf) or XML. This can
be done using the free software programs
LaTeX2RTF or TeX4ht. LaTeX
can also be rendered to
PDF files using the La
TeX extension pdfLaTeX.
TeX files containing Unicode text can be processed into PDFs by the
TeX extension XeLaTeX.
HTML is a converter written in
Perl that converts LaTeX
documents to HTML. This way, e.g., scientific papers—primarily
typeset for printing—can be placed on the Web for online viewing. It
is licensed under
GNU GPL v2. The latest updates are available
HeVeA  is a converter written in
Ocaml that converts LaTeX
documents to HTML5. It is licensed under the Q Public License.
Pandoc is a 'universal document converter' able to transform LaTeX
into many different file formats, including HTML5, epub, rtf and docx.
It is licensed under
GNU GPL v2.
Free software portal
Auto-Latex Equations – A Google Docs add-on that provides
TeX typesetting (MathJax supported).
TeX – American Mathematical Society extension for LaTeX
xdvi – software for viewing DVI files while using Unix
TeX – reference management software typically used with LaTeX
List of document markup languages
TeX – Publication Styles of the American Physical Society
^ "An introduction to LaTeX". La
TeX project. Retrieved 18 April
^ Leslie., Lamport, (1986-01-01). LATEX : a document preparation
system. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co. ISBN 020115790X.
^ "What are TeX, La
TeX and friends?".
^ Alexia Gaudeul (March 27, 2006). "Do Open Source Developers Respond
to Competition?: The (La)
TeX Case Study". SSRN 908946 .
^ Markin, Pablo (1 November 2017). "LaTeX, Open Source Software,
Facilitates the Adoption of Open Access by Authors, Repositories and
Journals". OpenScience. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
Leslie Lamport (April 23, 2007). "The Writings of Leslie Lamport:
LaTeX: A Document Preparation System". Leslie Lamport's Home Page.
^ The design of La
TeX owes something to earlier markup systems such as
PDF output is common, but
TeX can output other formats such as DVI
("Device independent" format). See below for more detail about
^ Donald E. Knuth, The TeXbook, Addison–Wesley, Boston, 1986, p. 1.
^ Lamport (1994), p 5
^ O'Connor, Edward. "
TeX and La
TeX logo POSHlets". Retrieved
^ Taraborelli, Dario. "CSS-driven
TeX logos". Retrieved
^ Walden, David (2005-07-15). "Travels in
TeX Land: A Macro, Three
Software Packages, and the Trouble with TeX". The Prac
TeX Journal (3).
^ See e.g. bubl.ac.uk Archived 2009-08-13 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Frank Mittelbach, Chris Rowley (January 12, 1999). "The LaTeX3
Project" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-07-30.
^ According to LICENSE file in the source repository.
^ Website http://hevea.inria.fr/
Flynn, Peter (2017) . Formatting Information: A Beginner's Guide
TeX (7th online ed.). Cork: Silmaril. p. 193.
Griffiths, David F.; Highman, David S. (1997). Learning LaTeX.
Philadelphia: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.
Kopka, Helmut; Daly, Patrick W. (2003). Guide to La
TeX (4th ed.).
Addison-Wesley Professional. ISBN 0-321-17385-6.
Lamport, Leslie (1994). LaTeX: A document preparation system: User's
guide and reference. illustrations by Duane Bibby (2nd ed.). Reading,
Mass: Addison-Wesley Professional. ISBN 0-201-52983-1.
Mittelbach, Frank; Goosens, Michel (2004). The La
TeX Companion (2nd
ed.). Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-36299-6.
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