LaTeX is a typing format specifically created for science/mathematics. One of it’s most common applications is to display all the mathematical equations on wikipedia and it is widely used throughout the scientific community to produce papers, posters and graphics.
It’s also open source – so it’s free and there is heaps of online help available.
Installing a LaTeX editor
To get started with LaTeX you will need an editor/complier. As with much open source software there are 2 different ‘flavours’ of LaTeX, LaTeX and pdfLaTeX. Without a doubt make sure you use pdfLaTeX as it allows much inclusion of a much wider variety of file types.
Then there are a range of editors that can make any single editor programme a pain to work with as you pull together examples from the web and they inevitably fail to compiler after you have spent hours working on a file. Below we recommend some of the best editor programmes through exhaustive trial and error.
The basic solution is MikTek, but there are some much nicer compilers available.
A Unix LaTeX editor is XEmacs
A nice add-on to this is AUCTeX which allows in-line compilations so you can view equations/images as you code without having to compile the entire document.
LaTeX class solutions
This LaTeX poster class (baposter) can be a basic solution for those last-minute posters! Information, examples and downloads here. (N.B. when using a new class make sure to update your class index if you’re using MikTeK!)
The LaTeX class called Beamer can be an invaluable tool for producing top-notch presentation slides and posters – and as it’s LaTeX based it’s especially useful for incorporating in those pesky equations which take forever in Word or just don’t appear in Powerpoint.
To get started writing, take a look at our LaTeX Introduction
For examples of different document types & structure:
Document Types: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/Basics
Document Structure: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/Document_Structure
For general LaTeX help: