LaTeX (read “leytek”) is a popular document markup language that is used by millions of engineers and scientists worldwide to create professional-quality letters, essays, articles, presentations, books, and other documents. If you are an experienced LaTeX user, then this page will be too elementary for you – you may proceed directly to NCLab, launch the File manager, upload LaTeX documents from your computer, open them in a text editor, and build your PDF documents. You will need just a few mouse clicks to do that. For all others – working with LaTeX is exciting, please keep reading!
Compile LaTeX Demo Document
To understand quickly how the LaTeX module works, launch the module via its Desktop icon, and press the green button. This will send the document to the server where it will be compiled. The resulting PDF file will be sent back to your browser where it will be displayed:
Do not get discouraged by the number of unknown keywords that you see in the demo document (the words starting with a backslash). This is not the simplest LaTeX document – its purpose, besides demostrating how the LaTeX module works, is to provide numerous techniques for quick reference. Let’s slow down and start with something much simpler!
Every LaTeX document must contain at least three lines: One that specifies text size and document type, one that says where the document starts, and one that says where the document ends. The following screenshot shows these three lines, along with a simple text “Hello World!” that actually form the contents of this document:
Here, “article” is a universal and most widely used document type, but one can also choose more specialized documents such as “letter”, “report”, “book”, etc. The corresponding PDF file is generated by pressing the green button. It looks as expected:
From here, you can learn LaTeX on your own.
Many excellent free LaTeX tutorials are available online. Here are a just a few of them: LaTeX Tutorial – a Primer by Indian TeX Users Group (PDF, 155 pages)
 Getting started with LaTeX by D.R. Wilkins (web page)
 The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX by Tobias Oetiker (PDF, 157 pages)
 LaTeX at Wikibooks (PDF, 467 pages)
 The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List by Scott Pakin (PDF, 123 pages)
 Chemical Graphics with LaTeX on Wikibooks
 ChemFig: Drawing Molecules with LaTeX (83 pages)
 TeX and LaTeX Introduction and Resources, interesting and resourceful web page.
Using NCLab LaTeX Templates
Typically we do not write LaTeX documents from scratch – it is much easier to take an existing document that looks similar to what we want to do, and we make changes to it. NCLab’s public database contains a huge number of templates for virtually all types of documents:
- Job applications
- Course flyers
- Course syllabi
- Scientific journal articles
- Beamer presentations
- Laboratory books and reports
To locate these documents and download them into your NCLab account, launch the File manager and click on Search in the File menu. In the Search box that appears, type suitable keywords such as “latex letter” or “latex essay”. You will be offered documents matching your query:
NCLab LaTeX Templates Gallery
Sample templates are featured in our LaTeX Templates Gallery. They can be accessed by clicking on any of the thumbnails below. All templates in the Gallery will be available for instant online editing on the templates page – this is work in progress.
LaTeX Video Tutorials
The best way to get started is to watch a video! Out of many different video tutorials which are available on the web we have selected two. Watch them here!
Frequently Asked Questions
The TeX User Group (TUG) is a good place to visit.