The LaTeX companion. Incl. newly revised LaTEX standard.(English)Zbl 0816.68140

Bonn: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. xxx, 528 p. \$ 39.95 /sc (1994).
Let us first quote a few lines from the authors’ preface:
“LaTEX is a generic typesetting system that uses TEX as its formatting engine. This companion is a detailed guide through the visible and not-so-visible beauties of LaTEX. As such, it is a comprehensive treatise of those points not fully discussed in Leslie Lamport’s LaTEX: A Document Preparation System (henceforth referred to as the LaTEX book). Extensions to basic LaTEX, as described in that book, are discussed, so that the LaTEX book, together with this companion, provide a ready reference to the full functionality of the LaTEX system.
Due to its flexibility, ease of use, and professional typographic quality, LaTEX is presently used in almost all areas of science and the humanities. Unlike many word processors, LaTEX (and its underlying formatting engine TEX) comes free of charge and is not linked to any particular computer architecture or operating system. Since LaTEX source files are plain text files, it is possible to ship them, and the packages referenced, from any computer to any other computer in the world (over electronic networks or via normal mail). The recipient will be able to obtain a final output copy identical to the one generated at the sender’s site, independently of the hardware used. Thus members of groups, geographically spread over several sites in different countries, or even on different continents, can now work together in composing complex documents where different parts can be dealt with by differential individuals, and then brought together without problems. Moreover, the use of electronic manuscripts has the potential to speed up the publication of papers by publishers.
LaTEX is not difficult to learn and a beginner can benefit from the system after reading through the first few chapters of Lamport’s LaTEX book, the basic reference on LaTEX. After some experience, you will probably have to solve some more advanced problems whose solution cannot be found directly in that book. If you are one of those users who would like to know how LaTEX can be extended to create the nicest documents possible without becoming a LaTEX guru, then this book is for you.
You will be guided, step by step, through the various important areas of LaTEX and be shown the links that exist between them. The structure of a LaTEX document, the basic formatting tools, and the layout of the page are all dealt with in great detail. A sufficient library of packages in the area of floats, graphics, tables, PostScript, and multi-language support are presented in a convenient way. This book is the first volume to include all of the important LaTEX tools, such as: up-to-date descriptions of version 2 of the New Font Selection Scheme (NFSS2), the AMS-LaTEX mathematics extensions, the epic and eepic extensions to LaTEX’s picture environment, and the MakeIndex and BibTEXprograms for producing and controlling the generation of indices and bibliographic references. Finally, an overview of ways to define new commands and environments, lengths, boxes, general lists, etc., as well as ways of facilitating the handling of these objects, complete the picture.”
The book treats LaTEX$$2_ \varepsilon$$ as the new standard in the LaTEX-world, the release that is to make an end to the diversification that had taken place in the LaTEX 2.09-era. Sticking to the LaTEX$$2_ \varepsilon$$-approach described here should make document exchange more reliable. The book contains quite a few descriptions of “extensions to basic LaTEX” which will be available in a new version of LaTEX, which is currently under development (LaTEX 3-project). The fact that the second author is a member in that development team guarantees for the usefulness of those descriptions well in future.
The book provides a lot of material, question that arise during the preparation of a document or the creation of a layout for a set of documents can often be solved right after consulting the corresponding items in the book. The book should find its place on the shelf right by the side of Lamport’s classical, together they make up for a complete reference in the LaTEX $$2_ \varepsilon$$-era.
Reviewer: H.Kröger (Berlin)

MSC:

 68U15 Computing methodologies for text processing; mathematical typography 68-01 Introductory exposition (textbooks, tutorial papers, etc.) pertaining to computer science

Keywords:

Document Preparation System