Using Latex under Windows

April 20th, 2007

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During a coursework I finally decided to give Latex a shot. Since I am currently using Windows as desktop operating system, here is my guide to using Latex on Windows.

According to Wikipedia Latex is a “document markup language and document preparation system for the TeX typesetting program. [...]

It is widely used by mathematicians, scientists, philosophers, engineers, scholars in academia and the commercial world, and other professionals. As a primary or intermediate format (e.g. translating DocBook and other XML-based formats to PDF) LaTeX is used because of the quality of typesetting achievable by TeX. 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, tables and figures, page layout and bibliographies.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=LaTeX&oldid=152483620

Since you were probably looking for a guide on using Latex under Windows you already made your decision or it was made for you ;)

My Latex setup consists of 3 components:

  • a TeX system (which compiles .tex files),
  • a TeX editor (which eases the writing of TeX files), and
  • a spellchecker (which increases the syntactical quality of your documents)

The TeX system

A really good TeX system for windows is MiKTeX. Download and a thorough documentation are available at http://miktex.org/. The installation is straight-forward and shouldn’t cause any trouble.

The TeX Editor

I decided to stay with my main IDE which is Eclipse. As a great editing framework (although somewhat bloated), thousands of plugins are available. One of them is Texlipse. The installation is really easy and described best at
http://texlipse.sourceforge.net/manual/installation.html.

The Spellchecker

I decided to go for Aspell, since it is natively supported by Texclipse. According to http://aspell.net/, “GNU Aspell is a Free and Open Source spell checker”. Since we want to write documents on Windows machines, we need the Windows version found at http://aspell.net/win32/. There you will also find 20+ different dictionaries available. Download the full installer and the dictionaries you will need, install them and done.

So what’s left?

The configuration. Sorry, but installing 3 pieces of software and let them play smoothly together will take some configuration. But don’t worry, it’s really just 3 steps.

  1. Open your Eclipse installation
  2. Choose Window -> Preferences -> Texclipse
    1. set Builder Settings – Bin Directory of TeX distribution to [YOUR-MIXTEX-INSTALLATION-PATH\miktex\bin]. This should assign all available programs used for building documents.
    2. set Spell Checker – Aspell command to [YOUR-ASPELL-INSTALLATION-PATH\bin\aspell.exe]. Now you got the spellchecker integrated, too.
    3. set Viewer Settings – yap() to [YOUR-MIXTEX-INSTALLATION-PATH\miktex\bin\yap.exe] and acroread() to [YOUR-ACROBATREADER-INSTALLATION-PATH\acrobat.exe]. This will let you use the convinient preview function.

Now you are all set. At least for the basics. For any further configuration you can have a look at http://texlipse.sourceforge.net/manual/ which gives many details on further options you have.