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LaTeX facts for kids

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LaTeX logo.svg
Original author(s) Leslie Lamport
Platform Cross-platform
Type Typesetting
License LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL)

LaTeX is a computer program used for making articles, books and mathematical formulas more aesthetically pleasing. LaTeX is well-suited for expressing mathematical formulas on electronic devices in a more human readable format, by allowing them to be shown in a format similar to how they would be written in many textbooks or by hand.

LaTeX is used for making mathematical formulas for some articles on Wikipedia, in addition to being used within academic circles.

The writer types their article into a plain text document. A plain text document cannot have styled text, like bold or italic. When the writer wants to write styled text, they use computer commands. For example, the command for bold text is \textbf{This text is bold}.

After the writer is finished writing the article, they tell LaTeX to read the document. After LaTeX is done, LaTeX makes a file that can be printed. The command \textbf{This text is bold} would print as This text is bold.

LaTeX was first made in the early 1980s by Leslie Lamport at SRI International, who published its first manual in 1986. The current version is LaTeX2e (styled \LaTeXe), which has been active since 1994.


The example below shows the LaTeX input and its corresponding output:

  \LaTeX{} is a document preparation system for the \TeX{}
  typesetting program. It offers programmable desktop publishing
  features and extensive facilities for automating most aspects of
  typesetting and desktop publishing, including numbering and
  cross-referencing, tables and figures, page layout, bibliographies,
  and much more. \LaTeX{} was originally written in 1984 by Leslie
  Lamport and has become the dominant method for using \TeX; few
  people write in plain \TeX{} anymore. The current version  is

  % This is a comment; it will not be shown in the final output.
  % The following shows a little of the typesetting power of LaTeX:
    E &= mc^2                              \\
    m &= \frac{m_0}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}}
LaTeX output

Academic contributions to LaTeX

In order to support mathematical typesetting, the American Mathematical Society (AMS) has made the AMS-LaTeX package. AMS also founded MathJax, a Javascript extension to display mathematical formulas on web browsers, with the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Related pages

  • Van Dongen, M. R. (2012). LATEX and Friends. Springer Science & Business Media.
  • Gr├Ątzer, G. (2014). Practical LaTeX. Springer.
  • Datta, D. (2017). LaTeX in 24 Hours: A Practical Guide for Scientific Writing. Springer.
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