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Haverford College
Department of Mathematics
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Student Resources: LaTeX vs TeX

LaTeX vs. TeX

LaTeX is built on top of another computer program called TeX. Often people don't make a clear distinction between the two; however, it is useful to understand the difference. TeX is a system designed for typesetting; as such, TeX commands are focused on typographical details like special symbols, font size, and spacing. LaTeX, on the other hand, is a document preparation system that augments TeX. When you compose a document in LaTeX, you focus on the document's content and structure, rather than the fine details of the typesetting. (The structural elements of your document include things like sections, subsections, statements of theorems, proofs, examples, etc., and also cross-references between these parts of your document.) Based on the structure of your document, LaTeX makes most of the typesetting decisions automatically. Thus, most people compose their technical documents in LaTeX, with occasional use of TeX commands to tweak the appearance of the final product.

Back to the main LaTeX page.

Last modified: Tue Sep 21 12:09:49 EDT 2010 by David Lippel.