[texhax] Designing books with LaTeX

William Adams will.adams at frycomm.com
Fri Jun 6 20:42:20 CEST 2008

Somehow, I sent my original response to the LyX users list. My  

On Jun 4, 2008, at 3:46 PM, Stacy Claxton wrote:

> I am familiar with LaTeX and have used it in the past to enter data  
> and
> equations into a mathematical textbook. I have now been asked to  
> create a
> design for a book. I know this involves using classes and packages,  
> but I am
> not familiar with these. I have searched online documentation and  
> have found
> vague references to designing your own class, usually with only some  
> caution
> that it "is not a straightforward task, and is often best left to the
> professionals" or "typically involves a lot of work that is  
> essentially
> programming and thus does not live easily with the declarative kind of
> design specification for a document (or range of documents) that  
> would be
> produced by a professional typographic designer" or "although some
> parameters can be adjusted within a predefined document layout, the  
> design
> of a whole new layout is difficult and takes a lot of time" (there's a
> footnote here suggesting that this is being addressed in the LaTeX3
> system?). This does not sound promising. I am a typesetter (I work in
> publishing and am very familiar with Quark and InDesign) but have no
> experience with design in LaTeX. Nor do I have extensive programming
> experience. How difficult would it be to learn how to use classes and
> packages to come up with a design? And how would I go about learning  
> how to
> do this? Any feedback or suggested resources would be greatly  
> appreciated.

Agree w/ Andy and Lars recommendation of Memoir.

The thing that I'd suggest in addition to this is that you work up  
your design as a package (so after reading an introduction to LaTeX  
(_The Not So Short Guide_ available at: http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/info/gentle/gentle.pdf) 
  and the Memoir manual you'll also want to read the class guide: http://www.latex-project.org/guides/clsguide.pdf 
  and you should probably also get _The LaTeX Companion 2nd Ed._).  
Also create a pair of packages one of which will include macros for  
all typographic tweaks, the other of which includes definitions of  
them which do nothing --- send authors the latter when returning a  

You'll also likely want to configure fonts, for which your best option  
is probably XeTeX (you'll be using it w/ LaTeX macros so it'll be  
xelatex) and Will Robertson's nifty FontSpec packagehttp://www.tug.org/texlive/Contents/live/texmf-dist/doc/xelatex/fontspec/ 
  though Philipp Lehman's Font Installation Guide is a wonderful  
document and essential if you'll need to use pdflatex and Type 1 fonts.

Useful links to documentation:

http://members.aol.com/willadams/books-e-tex.html (my own list of free  
references for LaTeX)


William Adams
senior graphic designer
Fry Communications

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