What is LaTeX? - LaTeX at Linux - LaTeX at Windows - configuration files - Literature

LaTeX (this page is also available in german/deutsch!)


What is LaTeX?

TeX is a typesetting program designed for high-quality composition of material that contains a lot of mathematical and technical expressions. It has been adopted by many authors and publishers who generate technical books and papers.

The TeX program itself is a macro compiler. TeX input consists of a stream of mixed commands and text. Commands can be defined for many purposes, not the least important of which is to permit input to be structured in a logical manner, allowing an author to concentrate on content rather than on typographic appearance.

The most popular such macro set is LaTeX. This tool provides several predefined document classes (book, article, report) with extensive sectioning and cross-referencing capabilities, and auxiliary tools for such processes as bibliography and index creation.

Why LaTeX?

Ok and now?

To be able to work with LaTeX you need the TeX/LaTeX-Basesystem. Most Linux distributions provide a preinstalled TeX-system. For Windows-systems there is the solution called Miktex. But to work efficiently you need a capable editor like Vi/Vim/gvim. But for more details have a look at the following text.

LaTeX at Linux

1.) Editor

I personally prefer the console-version of Vim. The console-version does not provide a menu. Not to use the menu has the advantage, that you do not have to leave the keyboard for moving with the mouse.

Many tips, tricks and tutorials for Vim are available at

Some other interesting editors are preview-latex for Emacs by David Kastrup, the KDE-LaTeX-Editor Kile, and the "by-vim-inspired-editor" Cream.

2.) The LaTeX-System at Linux

Your distribution should provide a LaTeX-System, for more details have a look at the website of your distribution (SuSE, Redhat, Mandrake, Debian,...).

Latex at Windows

1.) Editor

A nice editor for LaTeX at windows is WinEDT, but WinEDT is shareware so you might prefer "TeXnicCenter" or the Open-Source-Editor VIM (VI Improved) or gvim - the GUI version of Vim. Because gvim does not provide LaTeX menus from it's own, I created a LaTeX-extension.

Vim is a very capable editor you can extend on your own. Here 2 screenshots of my Vim-LaTeX-extension:

You can start compiling you LaTeX-Source, create a PDF through PDFLatex and show the PDF with Adobe Reader just by clicking the menu with mouse. You can run Cygwin (if you installed it, otherwise you can forget this submenu or delete it from the menu-file, details later) and the WinNT-Shell also through the menu:

gvim - Screenshot 1

To make your entrance into LaTeX easier, I created a short menu with some important LaTeX-commands - in the screenshot the menu is kind of "cut off" ;-):

gvim - Screenshot 2

Additional information:

Installation of Vim

Vim is available on many mirrors, especially on In the ZIP-archive is a program which starts the installation-progress and the following installation should not be a problem. (4.144 KB)

Configuration of Vim

You can configure Vim through the _vimrc-file. It is located in the directory where VIM is installed. I have created a _vimrc with many comments so you should understand it ;-)

Information about the LaTeX-Menu

My LaTeX-extension is in the file "menu.vim" (located in the VIM-directory) defined. If you want to use my "menu.vim" just backup your old "menu.vim" and copy my version into your directory, that´s all you have to do.

Important! Because I do not want to edit system-values of windows I have set some absolute paths. I asume you have to check the settings and replace my paths with your appropriating ones. I have marked the path you should change with red color and bold. (Notice: you do not have to set the path of cygwin if you did not install it, it is just a feature.)

Cutting from the source of menu.vim:

an 80.310 &LaTeX.&Compile\ LaTeX-Source :set shellcmdflag=<CR>:set shell=D:\Texmf\miktex\bin\latex.exe <CR>:! %<CR> " ok!
an 80.320 &LaTeX.&PDFLaTeX :make %<CR>
an 80.330 &LaTeX.-sep1- <Nop> " ok
an 80.340 &LaTeX.&Show\ PDF :set shellcmdflag=/c<CR>:set shell=cmd<CR>:sil ! D:\Adobe\Reader\Reader\AcroRd32.exe %:p:r.pdf <CR>
am 80.350 &LaTeX.-sep2- <Nop>
an 80.360 &LaTeX.&Cygwin :set shellcmdflag=<CR>:set shell=D:\Cygwin\cygwin.bat<CR>:! bash<CR> " ok
an 80.370 &LaTeX.&WinNT-Shell :set shellcmdflag=<CR>:set shell=cmd<CR>:! cmd<CR>
an 80.380 &LaTeX.-sep3- <Nop>
an 80.390 &LaTeX.&About\ the\ LaTeX-Menue :e $VIM/latex_info.txt<CR>

2.) Miktex - LaTeX-System for Windows

Installation of Miktex

Installing Miktex ist very easy. Just go to the homepage of Miktex, download the system und install it.

Configuration of Miktex

There is no special configuration of Miktex necessary.

Informationen about Miktex

All information can be found at the Homepage of Miktex

Homepage of

configuration files


Most of your answers will be answered by searching at might be also very helpfull. If you need more help, have a look at the newsgroup comp.editors.

Informationen about the gvim-editor

Informationen about the LaTeX-System

Big thanks to Sven Guckes, who helped me creating the latex-menu and this page. Also thanks to Jürgen Kramer who also helped me creating the latex-menu.

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