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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

TEXgefühl and LATEXgefühl

Jeffrey Shallit and Blake Stacey are discussing TEXgefühl and LATEXgefühl, described by Shallit as “the intuitive understanding of what is proper usage in the mathematical typesetting language TeX.”

Speaking as someone on the receiving end of TEX files (in my day job I sometimes have to translate LATEX into a combination of TEX and SGML), I have a few pointers of my own in addition to the advice given by Shallit, Stacey, and their commenters:

  • BibTEX does not work by magic. It doesn't get the bibliographic data from thin air but from .bib files. If use BibTEX to produce a bibliography you must send the .bib files.
  • LATEX can't read your mind. If you assign the same label to a subsubsection and a table, you might find that Table I has been cross referenced as Table 4.2.3.
  • LATEX does not have precognitive abilities. If you put a \label command before the command that updates the counter it's supposed to be using, the label will pick up the last counter to be cross referenced instead. In particular, a \label command should not go before the caption of a figure or a table.

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