LaTeX: A Document Preparation System

Leslie Lamport

Addison-Wesley 1994

The LaTeX Companion

Michel Goosens, Frank Mittelbach + Alexander Samarin

Addison-Wesley 1994
A book review by Danny Yee © 1995 http://dannyreviews.com/
throw out Microsoft Word!

Lamport is the author of LaTeX and his book on the system is usually referred to simply as the LaTeX book. It is basically a tutorial introduction to the language, coupled with appendices which contain a more complete reference manual and which describe the index and bibliography tools which accompany LaTeX. Though he makes no assumptions of prior knowledge, Lamport's introduction is pretty rapid (he doesn't repeat himself at all, and offers a limited range of examples), so those with no experience at all of other typesetting or programming languages may find it heavy going. But even those who decide to learn from one of the other books on LaTeX would, I think, benefit from having a copy of LaTeX. My copy is already on its way to being "well-thumbed".

If you are planning on doing anything sophisticated with LaTex, then you will also want a copy of the LaTeX Companion. This has some overlap with the shorter book, but is designed to supplement it and is more methodically organised. It has extensive material on layout and styles, tables, "floating" environments, fonts, mathematics, languages other than English, graphics, postscript, indices, bibliographies, and documentation. An appendix contains material for those writing their own packages and classes. Even though I've only used LaTeX for two non-trivial tasks (producing a hard copy version of my collected book reviews and typesetting gamelan notation), I found myself referring to the LaTeX Companion quite regularly.

Both volumes describe the latest version of LaTeX (2e); since I'm a recent convert to LaTeX (from troff) I can't advise people with older versions of LaTeX (or LaTeX, for that matter) whether or not to update them.

September 1995

External links:
LaTeX: A Document Preparation System
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
The LaTeX Companion
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Related reviews:
- books about computing
- books published by Addison-Wesley
%T LaTeX
%S A Document Preparation System
%A Lamport, Leslie
%I Addison-Wesley
%D 1994
%O paperback, 2nd edition, index
%G ISBN 0201529831
%P xvi,272pp

%T The LaTeX Companion
%A Goosens, Michel
%A Mittelbach, Frank
%A Samarin, Alexander
%I Addison-Wesley
%D 1994
%O paperback, index
%G ISBN 0201541998
%P xxx,528pp