Spent the morning looking at LaTeX layout and I have learned a few things:

1) There's a reason everyone uses the same templates like book or memoir: they do an awful lot of the heavy lifting for you.

2) There's more than one way to do things, and many of them have subtle knock-on effects that you won't notice until it's too late.

3) Boy howdy this thing is powerfully addicting. Even something as simple as \lipsum[1-5] in memoir with a little bit of formatting just looks so damn good.

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It's also surprising to me how many things just work in LaTeX. Conversely if you're pasting code into a document and don't know what you're doing you can get yourself into dank areas. Understanding what the warning messages are telling you is a Good Thing (TM)

Also surprising that Packt's LaTeX books are actually good. Usually Packt books are barely competent at conveying anything that isn't covered in documentation, but overall these books have useful tidbits that I'm finding helpful.

@craigmaloney So now that you're a world leading expert on typesetting with LaTeX, would you like to help us with Subplot typsetting? :)

(Mostly joking.)

@liw Sure. Just give me ten years and all the money up-front. 😁


The other thing to realize is that LaTeX is the semantic abstraction over TeX. If you want super fine grained control, TeX is the control language.

But using TeX is so very difficult that LaTeX is what people fall on.

But I think the next question is, as beautiful as TeX and LaTeX are... do we need them anymore? Do we need paper-oriented documents to be our primary system?

Why not electronic documents?

@emacsen I'm using this for RPG books, which are decidedly presentation-heavy and have both Electronic and Print components. Despite our best efforts paper-based ideas of presentation and design are going to influence whether or not the content is used.

I completely understand where you're coming from and I yearn for this future as well, but in the arena where I'm playing in it's still paper-based presentation.

I'm also having a lot of fun deconstructing these designs.


Interesting! I'm running a new RPG this weekend and I found that needing to link to RPG books was a pain in the but and I wished I could link to web pages.

I know @ArneBab has written RPG books as well... I love the visuals but I think that making the information easy to follow is more important than the visuals. In an ideal world there would be a visual book and a simple, straightforward website for RPG games.

@craigmaloney @ArneBab

Oh you can see my awful, awful CSS and web page skills:

The Easy Start Guide may be formatted badly but I was/am proud of distilling basically an entire book into what is essentially 10ish pages.

@emacsen @craigmaloney why awful? Looks good and simple. Now take the HTML site, use pandoc --parse-raw yoursite.html -o

#+LATEX_HEADER: \usepackage[final=true,babel=true,tracking=true,kerning=true,spacing=true,factor=1100,stretch=10,shrink=10,selected=true,protrusion=true,expansion=true]{microtype}

Now export it from emacs as PDF. You’ll notice why people use PDFs. No browser is able to get a similar readability.

@emacsen @craigmaloney And then you can export your document as HTML, too, as I do on my website:

But I didn’t yet manage to migrate to the new structure.

@emacsen @craigmaloney My website sources are available at — and since this is org-mode, I can (at some point) assemble books by getting the right sub-pages with #+include:

@emacsen But (La)TeX does of course produce wonderful electronic documents.

We need more TeX/LaTeX, not less. (I'm not saying (La)TeX is always the right solution, mind you, but it is in many cases.)


@emacsomancer @craigmaloney

I tried really hard to get LaTeX to produce nice documents that would end up as HTML/ePub and it was so hard to do that it seemed earlier to start with something else (org-mode, markdown, etc.) and then produce two versions.

@emacsen And I definitely agree that one of the places that TeX isn't the best tool is when you want HTML/ePubs as an output. Here it really makes sense to use org-mode or markdown or the like as the "source" and export from there.


@emacsomancer @emacsen I've used pandoc in the past for this, but unfortunately pandoc doesn't handle some of the layout that I want to have in the document (and inserting TeX commands in Pandoc can have not-so-great results. Yes, it works, but not always).

@craigmaloney I tried for a few years to use something else as a source format for TeX (esp. org-mode). If your end goal is really TeX (or PDF), I think it's better to just use TeX directly.



The biggest danger of LaTeX is you start believing everything you write, because the formulas look so realistic :)

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