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The LaTeX Companion

Created: Sat Mar 20 16:17:17 2010 | Last modified: Sat Mar 20 16:17:17 2010

Rating: ********--

The LaTeX Companion

Before I go into this book, I would like to give some background information on what LaTeX is. LaTeX (the spelling prefer the upper-case letters) is a document preparation system based on the TeX text typesetting engine. It is a powerful and fantastic tool to produce high quality books, articles, reports and scientific papers. It is especially suited for engineers, mathematicians and scientists who use a lot of equations and figures and technical diagrams in their documents and papers.

In fact, LaTeX can be pretty much used for any kind of text processing which is suited for very high quality, print optimized documents. Being a high-level markup which allows the use of abstract document constructs rather than the low level formatting and typesetting commands of TeX, it is so much easier to learn for a beginner than pure TeX.

This book, which is a supplement to the original LaTeX: A document preparation system by Leslie Lamport (the original creator of LaTeX) covers pretty much all the extra features, packages and constructs of LaTeX which is not found in the basic book. It is undoubtedly the best guide to anybody interesting in exploiting some of the more powerful features of LaTeX to prepare rich, high quality documents. In fact, just to give an idea of the power of LaTeX, this book has been typeset entirely using LaTeX. That should tell us something: that standard WYSIWYG word processors don't even come close to matching the power of LaTeX.

The real strength of this book is that it's an easy to refer book. Everything is well documented and the table of contents and index make it so much easier to look up anything you want without trouble. Each aspect of using a complex system like LaTeX is logically arranged in chapters with plenty of examples, illustrations and explanations. In fact, I would rate this book higher than Leslie Lamport's first book simply because of the features covered here. Without this book, one cannot truly exploit the full power of LaTeX. Leslie Lamport's book only covers the basic aspects and doesn't go into the additional packages. This books covers the basic formatting, font handling, advanced mathematics, tabular material, graphics, floats, index generation, bibliography generation and pretty much everything that LaTeX can do. In fact, there is also a section on preparing multi-language documents with the babel system.

All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a document preparation and typesetting system whose powers go way beyond a mere word-processor. LaTeX is definitely the answer and this book pretty much goes on to illustrate why.