Using Lyx to Create LaTeX Documents

LaTex is a markup language that uses the underlying TeX engine created by Donald Knuth. With LaTeX, one can create compeling documents with finely calculated fonts, spaces, and overall page formating.

However, having so much power can make LaTeX a little hard to use. For one, it is a language that may be difficult to approach by people that are not used to programming languages. It also requires a separate compilation step, which is not familiar to most computer users.

LyX (the document processor) was created to simplify the life of people wanting to create relatively simple documents using LaTeX. With LyX, one can use a familiar interface to edit text which will be converted to LaTeX and processed automatically. So, you can create documents that have been formatted by LaTeX, but created in a tool that looks more like a standard word processor.

First Steps with Lyx

Lyx is multiplatform software, so it will work on Linux, Windows, or Mac machines. You can download the latest version from the website

After installing the program for your machine and start it, you will see a familiar interface, with scroobars, a toolbar of frequently used commands, and a menu. You can type and format text as you would do in MS Word, and the result will be automatically converted to ps or pdf, after being processed by LaTeX.

The main difference from LyX to a standard word processor is that it marks text with a style that will later be translated by LaTeX. A word processor, such as MS Word for example, is concerned instead with the exact formatting of each paragraph of the document. This method is much more error-prone, because the user is responsible for maintaining the uniformity of the overall style.

Exporting PDF and PS

LyX allows users to directly create a PDF or PS from a document. To do this, locate the convertion toolbar on the top of the window. It has options to run latex and create a PDF or a PS document. The resulting document can be regenerated as many times as necessary.

LyX has an iternal format that is used to store documents. This format is efficient, but LyX also allows one to export the document created to the more common LaTeX format. To do this, just select the export option on the File menu. Then, select the latex option (plain or pdfLatex). Then, you can use the resulting latex file as the basis for your own document, or to distribute to other latex users, for example.

Tags: latex, lyx, software
Article created on 2009-03-11 22:36:55

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