How do I use LaTeX?

How do I use LaTeX?

This is the local guide to using Tex or LaTeX and should not serve as a substitute for the appropriate User's Guides, referenced below.

The Basics

The basic command for running TeX or LaTeX is 'tex filename', 'latex filename', or 'pdflatex filename'.

There should be a file in your current directory called filename.tex, containing the TeX or LaTeX commands. Upon successful completion of processing, a file called filename.dvi is created and filename.pdf if you used pdflatex. (LaTeX also produces a file called filename.aux with information for tables of content and indices; don't be alarmed if it tells you it doesn't exist. However, if you wish to produce a table of contents, index or document with references, you will need the .aux file. Since the .aux file is produced if it is not present, this simply means that you may have to run TeX or LaTeX twice in order to get these features.) It is the .dvi file which you will eventually print to get your final copy.


You can preview your file on the screen before you print it. Use the command 'xdvi', with the dvi file given as an argument, as in xdvi filename.dvi. If you make a change to your dvi file (by reinvoking tex or latex), xdvi will refresh itself as soon as the cursor is returned to it's window -- that is, it is not necessary to quit and restart xdvi every time you reprocess your input file.


To print a dvi file called filename.dvi use the command 'dvips filename'. Dvips automatically routes the output to your default printer (as set by the PRINTER environment variable). You can override the destination printer by adding a -Pprinter to the dvips command line. For example, 'dvips -Ppr1 filename' will print filename.dvi on printer pr1.

If you wish to print only part of a .dvi file (or you are having trouble printing a large .dvi file), you can print part of the file using the command dviselect. Type man dviselect for information on using the dviselect command.

In order to view a LaTeX document which uses PostScript fonts (like Helvetica), you should first convert the document to PostScript, and use ghostview to view it.

Suppose your document is called sem.tex, then the command 'latex2e sem' creates the file sem.dvi, and the command 'dvips -f -t landscape sem.dvi >' creates the PostScript file This file can be viewed with the command 'ghostview' and can be printed with the command 'lpr'

Additional Documentation

The appropriate User's Guides are:

  • The LaTeX WikiBook,

  • The TeXbook, by Donald E. Knuth, Addison-Wesley, 1984

  • LaTeX User's Guide & Reference Manual, by Leslie Lamport, Addison-Wesley, 1986

For help in getting PostScript output into your TeX or LaTeX document, see help psfig.

For infomation on the style file ucthesis (e.g. documentclass{ucthesis} ) refer to ucthesis.