Learning LaTeX

I am giving more detailed answers to the questioned asked on Mastodon here.

  • What would be the difference b/w Markdown and Latex

LaTeX is mostly used for academic report writing, it is very strong with science and mathematical formatting. But does have a steeper learning curve.

Markdown can be used for document creation that is more suited for use on the web.

  • How to begin using the latter

Start simple, The Learn LaTeX website is really good, plus being online, if you need help you can post a link to the page and we can then read from the same page, look at your document source which will help.

  • How hard is it to use it

I find questions like this harder to answer. I started using LaTeX with software called LyX which is a program that gives a nice front end and does all the LaTeX stuff in the background, it got to the point where what I wanted to do, ended up easier being done in pure LaTeX so I switched to TeXstudio before I discovered Overleaf.

What may help though is experience of other formatting systems, e.g html, as in both cases you need to get the tags right. so for example with a numbers list environment you would use:


So as with HTML you get the tag wrong or don’t close it properly you end up with errors being thrown up, Having said that. You can start writing documents, and then add in tables of contents, citations , cross reference.

In css you have p{ color: #red ; } otherwise it won’t work. So the same analytical thinking applies to LaTeX you also kinda learn to interpret the error message. If you get really stuck then you can copy / paste code to somewhere like

  • LaTeX forum
    or share a Link to the code from Overleaf, and people will help you. and even give further pointers, sometimes the issue is further up than the error suggests.

Steeper learning curve but nice looking documents. Another + is plain text, means anyone can open in any text editor.

  • and if you use it on Write.as?

As in my other reply MathJax is included as on my Personal journal blog,

1 Like

An excellent post, which I am grateful for – Thank you, Paul!

Your post is a perfect introduction, I didn’t know much at all about LaTex, and now have a solid guide to follow if interested.

Really neat that PersonalJournal supports it inside Write.Freely!