Top Ten Reasons to use LaTeX

  1. It’s text-based, so any editor you use will run lightning-fast.
  2. It’s text-based, so you can edit files on any computer, any operating system, with any suite of software.
  3. It separates content from typesetting, so if you decide you want all your headings changed, or different colors/styles for bold, or whatever, you change one typesetting command, not a thousand instances.
  4. For academic writing, footnotes and bibliographies are incredibly easy to add (including custom reference markers for the footnotes to point to the bibliography or so forth.)
  5. For scientific or mathematical writing, it’s a no-brainer. Every mathematical symbol is at your fingertips, and graphs and images and charts are remarkably easy to include.
  6. There are plugins for virtually every kind of typesetting. For example, for musicians it interfaces directly with LilyPond, the best music typesetter available (free and text-based, incidentally.)
  7. It’s completely free, and runs on every OS.
  8. It will increase your productivity, because when creating content you can focus on creating content, not fidgeting with its appearance, and when perfecting the typesetting, you can focus on that.
  9. However, most of the time you will not need to mess with the typesetting at all, because unlike WYSIWYG programs, LaTeX has been designed to typeset to professional standards.
  10. It is actually incredibly simple to learn for basic writing needs, and once you have a setup that works, you can just save a template and never have to think about it again.

4 thoughts on “Top Ten Reasons to use LaTeX

  1. I’m not sure LaTeX is really worth recommending to non-scientific writers. Maybe I’ve just been too lazy about learning formatting, but I use LaTeX regularly (also being a mathematician) and find it difficult to format with. My experience is that if you want precise control, and you’re willing to put in the time, it works. If you don’t know how to ask for what you want, it’s a big pain: there is a learning curve.

  2. Yeah. I agree with you there — there’s definitely a steep learning curve and for a lot of people it just won’t be worth it. But I still find it useful outside of math/science — another academic subject I write in is music history, which has a lot of very specific formatting requirements usually. It did take some time — quite a few hours — but after creating a template in LaTeX my life is so much easier.

    But, yeah, it does have its use issues for most people.

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