LaTeX Tips: The Top Ten List

  1. Avoid manual formatting commands. Use instead proper LaTeX constructs for titles, headings, theorems, etc., and let LaTeX take care of spacing and other formatting issues.
  2. Use the amslatex macros. To make these macros available, use documentclass "amsart" or add "\usepackage{amsmath, amsthm}" after the documentclass line.
  3. Use "align/align*" instead of "eqnarray/eqnarray*" or "eqalign/eqalign*".
  4. Use "\quad" or "\qquad" for spacing in displays. This is preferable, and easier to type, than using multiple "small spaces" like "\ ", or "\,", or explicit "\hspace{...}" instructions.
  5. Use "\left" and "\right" with delimiters surrounding large expressions (like sums, integrals, or fractions). This causes TeX to size brackets automatically and in almost all cases is better (and is a lot less work) than trying to size brackets manually with "\big", "\bigg", etc.
  6. Use "\eqref{...}" instead of "(\ref{...})" for references to equations. The net effect is the same, but you don't have to type the parentheses.
  7. Use "\substack{...}" for multiline subscripts in sums or integrals. The "\substack" command works much like the "\Sb...\\ ... \endSb" construct in amstex and is preferable, and easier to use, than constructs involving "array" or "\atop".
  8. Use "\newtheorem*{...}{...}" for declarations of theorems you don't want automatically numbered. If you don't see a way to get a theorem number come out in the desired form through the automatic numbering mechanism, or just don't want to be bothered with the intricacies of automatic theorem numbering, take the easy way out and number the theorems manually in the above manner.
  9. Use "\operatorname" to define new "math operators". For example, "\newcommand{\ker}{\operatorname{ker}}" causes "\ker" to behave much like "\sin" or "\log". This ensures that the spacing and font come out right, and is preferable to manual constructs like "\mbox{\rm ker }".
  10. Buy Gratzer's book "Math into LaTeX". Use Gratzer as your main reference for LaTeX, and have it handy whenever you work on TeX documents. It's the only LaTeX book that fully covers the amslatex package. Most other books would never tell you about commands like "align", "substack", or "\newtheorem*" mentioned above which greatly facilitate mathematical typesetting, since those commands are part of the amslatex package.

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Last modified: Tue 23 Aug 2011 05:54:31 PM CDT A.J. Hildebrand