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Get Started

To get started with LaTeX you will need two pieces of software, a LaTeX distribution and a text editor.

Online browser-based LaTeX services such as ShareLaTeX and Overleaf do not require any installation whatsoever. Both of these online platforms allow real-time collaboration which is very convenient when working on a report with others. Your documents are also stored in the “cloud”, so you can work on your documents from any computer that has access to the Internet.

DTU offers a license for ShareLaTeX. Simply sign-up using your student mail on the ShareLaTeX website and you will automatically be invited to the university’s subscription group.

LaTeX Distribution

A LaTeX distribution consists of a LaTeX compiler (for different TeX engines) and a collection of packages and classes, i.e., helper functions to typeset your document.

Three different LaTeX distributions exist: TeX Live, MikTeX (only available on Windows), and MacTeX (only available for OS X).

  1. TeX Live is a cross-platform LaTeX distribution and is available for all major operating systems e.g. Windows, Linux and OS X. TeX Live comes bundled with all commonly used packages and engine compilers, e.g., pdfTeX, LuaTeX, XeTeX.

    The following options are available for installation of TeX Live:

    • Windows: Download install-tl-windows.exe and follow the installation wizard
    • Linux (from the terminal or search for texlive in your package manager):
      • Debian/Ubuntu: apt-get install texlive
      • Fedora: yum install texlive-scheme-full
      • Arch: pacman -S texlive-most
  2. MikTeX is only available for Windows and supplies just a subset of available packages but comes with all necessary engine compilers. MikTeX installs packages on demand, thus the footprint of the installation is smaller compared to TeX Live. Note: If you don’t have several Giga Bytes of free space on your computer, MikTeX may be a good alternative.

    You can download it from MikTeX.

  3. MacTeX is a redistribution of TeX Live for OS X.

    Download it from MacTeX and follow the installation wizard, or install it using Homebrew Cask from the terminal:

    • brew cask install mactex

In short, on Windows, if you want packages to be installed on demand install MikTeX, otherwise go with TeX Live.

Text Editor

Any text editor capable of editing plain text files may do. There are a couple of text editors that are designed for the purpose of editing LaTeX documents. The following list gives a short introduction to some popular editors.

  • Texmaker: is available for all modern operating systems (Windows, Linux, OS X) and provides a friendly user interface for newcomers. Texmaker is widely used among students at DTU and we usually recommend it for people new to LaTeX.

    You can read more about Texmaker on their website.

  • TeXStudio: is a fork of Texmaker and they have many features in common. The interface of TeXStudio may look slightly more modern compared to Texmaker.

    You can read more about TeXStudio on their website.

  • Other editors include Atom, GNU Emacs, VIM, Sublime Text etc. Feel free to explore them yourself. These editors are powerful and may require manual configuration and extra plug-ins to fit your needs.

Next Steps

Once you have both the LaTeX distribution and your preferred text editor installed you can have a look at the “Your First Document” tutorial to get started on your first document.