Document classes in Latex

Latex is a text preparation system that provides ways for users to create formated documments. Latex concentrates on quality of output, compared to other systems, such as Microsoft Word, which are more concerned with easy of use.

A document created in Latex can be classified in one of several classes of documents, according to the document type used in the \documentclass command.

The default document type for Latex documents is "article". An article is a generatl type of document that is supposed to have a title at the top of the page, and is divided into sections. The sections of an article are introduced using commands such as "\section", "\subsection", etc.

Creating a New Document

A document in Latex is introduced withe \documentclass command. This command needs to be the first element of the latex input file. Several parameters can be used with the "documentclass" command, as it will be described later. However, of more importance is the main parameter, used between curly braces.

The following types of documents are allowed in Latex:

Deciding on the Type of Document

You can use your own judgement when creating a document using Latex. If the document is supposed to have multiple chapters, you can either use "book" or "report". Either of these formats can give great results, depending on how you setup fonts and other paramters.

Many times, however, the document is much shorter, and the article format would be more appropriate. If your document has less than 50 pages, it will most probably be classified as an "article", instead of a report or book.

The use case for the "letter" format is very clear. Letters in general should be formatted with this document type. However, you can also use it to create other short form documents with just a few pages.

Custom Document Types

It is also possible to download other document types. For example, several people have created class types that are tailored to a specific journal or publishing house. A few people have created class format for dissertations. Major universities have often designed Latex class files with their dissertation format.


Documents in Latex can be classified in some major types. You should decide in advance of type of document to use. Although it is not difficult to change document types (and this is a major strength in Latex), it is also useful to start in the right way.

Tags: latex, documentclass, document
Article created on 2010-05-02 12:55:30

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