Writing Mathematics with TeX

What Is TeX

TeX is a system designed for typesetting math and other technical material. There are many flavors of TeX (plain TeX, LaTeX, AMSTeX, ...,) the most common is LaTeX. When we write about TeX below we'll mean the LaTeX flavor.

TeX allows careful typesetting of mathematics. It takes some time to learn and to set up but in the end it makes it easier to produce mathematical documents.

The usual process for working with TeX is

There are comfortable integrated environments for working with TeX. In the math and science center labs WinShell  is installed on the Windows machines and TeXShop is installed on the Macs.

Learning TeX

There are many excellent online guides, The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX, available here, is highly recommended. (get it locally and for black and white printing here.) The book Math Into Latex by George Gratzner is also highly recommended. There are copies in the math computer labs.

The Thesis Template below gives a good idea of how a math paper looks in TeX .You might begin by adjusting this document with your own content.

You can find some guides on TeX commands here, and here. Comprehensive help using TeX and LaTeX (as well as other share/freeware versions and accessories) can be found at the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network.

You can view a progression of 8 documents from a simple "one line" document to others adding a few features here.

Thesis Template

Prof. Greene has been nice enough to make up a template, papershell.tex, to help you organize and get started on your thesis without having to worry about some of the more mundane and technical aspects of TeX.

To save this document to your computer on Windows, you need to right click on the link, select "Save Target As", and then add a .tex extension to the name when you save it (ie. save as papershell.tex). If you are using a Mac, you need to press the "Control" key while you click on the link to download the template.

Graphics in your TeX Document

The essential command to add graphics in your document is \includegraphics{}. For example \includegraphics{car} adds the graphics file car.eps or car.pdf to your document. It is simplest to place graphics files and tex files in the same folder. It is possible to do graphics with eps (encapsulated postscript), though we are trying to stay with pdf processing only if possible. There may be times with eps is helpful though. PdfLaTex can also processes png and and jpg images as well.

For an example, download figureshell.tex. You will need to download the following figures and save them in the same directory as the figureshell.tex file: triangle.eps, sine.eps , triangle.pdf and sine.pdf.


You can make slides for presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint or Word or Apple's Keynote but for high quality mathematical typesetting you should use something based on TeX. TeX has several options (the slides, seminar, slitex and prosper packages). Most of these packages are part of the standard TeX installation. Prosper is not part of the standard installation and can be downloaded from sourceforge. For a Mac installation put the prosper folder in ~/Library/texmf/tex/latex. Because Prosper uses postscript files Mac users working with TeXShop must check the TeX and GhostScript option in the Typeset menu. For an example using prosper download easyprosper.tex

Installing TeX on your Computer

There are excellent free TeX environments. The following are the most commonly used in this department:


There are 4 components to the system

Once you've donwloaded and installed the components above you'll need to test configure WinShell or WinEdt.

Mac 0S X:

TeXShop is an excellent free TeX tool for OS X. There are several componments to the system but the main components are

See the Obtaining and Installing links on the TeXShop website.

The MacTeX distribution http://www.tug.org/mactex (found in the above TeXShop link) for the Mac is an all in one install which works on an Intel Mac. Installing on a PowerPC may require some configuration after installing.


Most Linux distributions have TeX installed; the most widely used implementation is teTeX.