Getting started

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This page provides two sections. The first describes the software you need to use TeX on Mac OS X. The second is a list of links to advice for those starting to use TeX for the first time.


At the very least you will need:

  1. A distribution. This is the underlying software that 'compiles' the document much in the way a web browser converts html to a formatted document for reading.
    To decide which distribution to use, see Distribution Matrix, or read the more detailed Distributions page.
  2. Either
    a front end which lets you create/edit documents and view the results using a single application;
    a text editor (to create and edit documents) and a viewer (to see the results of your hard work).
    To decide which front end or editor/viewer combination to use, see Editors/Front Ends Matrix, or read the more detailed Editors and/or Front Ends pages.
  3. Choose extras from the Extras matrix.
  4. Choose an introductory TeX/LaTeX/ConTeXt resource from Introductory documents.


Where to start is always based on the opinion of the advice-giver and the background of the advice receiver. The following are some documents with varying advice on how/where to start. By policy, the wiki will always remain unbiased. However, some of our wiki editors (will) have their own personal preferences listed on their personal wiki page.

For the interested but as yet uncommitted, Peter Smith's LaTeX - the very idea sets out some reasons to use TeX and explains what sort of programs TeX and LaTeX are. Although it does not say anything about installing or using TeX, it offers a useful overview of the system and may help make sense of why the system works as it does. (Note that the tag "LaTeX for Logicians" does not mean this is intended solely for logicians. On the contrary, it explicitly addresses non-mathematicians such as those working in the humanities.)

See also References

These are free and downloadable. Peruse them and decide what is best for you!

For example:

  • ConTeXt. ConTeXt is a high powered alternative variant of TeX that avoids some of the pitfalls LaTeX can have with conflicting packages.
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