CTAN Comprehensive TeX Archive Network

Starting out with , , and friends

Do you want to begin working with the typesetting system? Most people start out by downloading free versions of the needed software, and a tutorial. This page gets you to the most popular choices.

Step one: Get a distribution

You first need a collection of the software. Such a collection is called a distribution, and comes with , , , and everything else that will help you to perform 's magic on your computer. Each distribution also comes with programs specific to your computer platform, so make your choice from the list below.

The most popular choice here is the MiK distribution, which lets you easily manage packages.
Unix-type systems, including GNU/Linux:
The best choice here is  Live, which contains many packages and programs. It is freely available over the Internet or on disc; see the web page for details. Note that most Unix systems have as an installation option so you might already have it or be able to easily get it using your system administration package management tool: RPM, or DEB, or whatever.
Get the Mac distribution, which is  Live with some Mac-specific goodies.

Step two: Get documentation

Most people starting today use the macro package. The most-often recommended tutorial is the (Not So) Short Guide to ; this has many translations. Another tutorial is the Indian group's primer.

Many people get a system to write mathematical text. For that, get the documentation for the American Mathematical Society's AMS- package.

You might also be interested in a comprehensive list of symbols and a tutorial on graphics.

Steps beyond: know where to go

As a user you will have many resources to help you get your work done.

First, is popular and there are probably many people near you who have experience with it. There are plenty of helpful people on the Internet discussion group comp.text.tex. And, you are most welcome to join a users group.

There are many books available. The English FAQ is authoritative, clear, and up to date.

Finally, this site, CTAN, is our community's archive; if you are looking for something then chances are good that we have it.

But wait, there's more!

The Users Group has a more extensive introduction than this page. They also keep the definitive list of all system choices, including commercial options.

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