[texhax] Do any college courses exist in TeX?
uwe.lueck at web.de
Tue Jun 23 17:15:40 CEST 2015
2015-06-22 21:58 +02:00, John Michael Nahay wrote:
> I have never learned TeX, in spite of trying at
> least 20 times since 1990.
> But, in spite of thousands of online tutorials &
> YouTube videos, we can never organize & memorize
> the massive number of commands in markup languages
> like TeX.
If you could not get friends with TeX while trying
20 times in 25 years, I guess the reason is that
you want to organize & memorize the massive number
of TeX commands. I think the latter is a very bad
idea if you want to learn and use TeX. As others
have already suggested, you better just learn the
few commands that you actually need (and -- very
useful for mathematical papers and books -- how to
create your own ones).
> So, in order for us to do it, we would need to take
> formal college courses in TeX and each of us devote
> several thousand hours learning it.
Non sequitur, at least: It is very easy to learn
using TeX without a course. More than 20 years ago,
I just read a (then) "short introduction" to LaTeX,
and then (after some days of installing a working
system), after about (another) two days could typeset
my first documents. See the "begin" link at the
bottom of the postings you receive for similar ways
to learn LaTeX 20 years later. What I have found
nice recently are
Well, books are an additional useful or necessary
step to get control over TeX, I bought The LaTeX
Companion and didn't need another book on TeX so much
(apart from what I read in order to hack LaTeX).
For math papers and books, the AMS macros may be
especially useful, so you might next read some of the
PDF files in
I believe that at most one TeX user out of 10000 has
ever attended something like a TeX course. (It
follows that such a TeX user is not an entire one.)
I even guess that a TeX course is not very useful
because there is so little that the attendant's needs
would have in common.
I even tend to discourage you from reading books like
Grätzer's on TeX that other posters have recommended.
These posters took your request about "learning TeX"
(and "organizing & memorizing") for granted, while
you can use TeX without "learning it" -- ! -- and I
believe that you won't want to learn TeX any more
when you have started using it, along the LaTeX lines.
The rest of my posting tries to tell you something
important about "TeX commands" and about TeX vs.
I think the most salient features of TeX are these:
1. high quality typesetting,
2. easy creation of thousands of custom commands.
I am looking at the second feature now. It is an
important reason why I don't want to use MS Word,
even though its typesetting math has improved very
much in recent years and even may be better than
LaTeX in some respects today.
(Regarding MS Word macros as I have experienced them,
I consider TeX macros superior because they provide
powerful programming without clicking.)
The further rest of my posting rather is joking in order
to demonstrate how bad your idea of "organizing all the
commands" is, especially addressing mathematicians who
(of course) prefer theory to practice:
If I understand the .log files from my current TeX
installation correctly, I could tell it to create
475255 = 26^0 + 26^1 + 26^2 + 26^3 + 26^4
TeX commands (that do nothing), by starting with a
command \zzz and in a recursion step append one letter
out of a, ..., z to the commands created so far, so
the new commands range from \zzz to \zzzzzzz. This
should wake you up. (Exercise: "memorize" all these
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