[texhax] book to buy?

William F. Adams wadams at atlis.com
Sat Sep 25 15:20:52 CEST 2004

On Saturday, September 25, 2004, at 09:03  AM, Robin Fairbairns wrote:

> there are no books, really, on how latex works.  k&d (i don't know
> about kopka's german version) has extensive details on skating round
> the periphery, but little (if anything) on the innards.
> there was talk of a tome on design at one stage.  i don't know what
> came of it.  i keep making fitful moves towards a web site that will
> document latex internals, but i've not touched the prototype (plain
> text) document for more than a month.  and i've no clear ideas about
> extending it to "design considerations".

I would _love_ to see this text.

For the interim, I've found that I've been able to be fairly 
self-sufficient in doing fairly complex book macros / design / 
formatting through the following:

  - first, check the FAQ - this solves better than 90% of typical 
difficulties IME.

  - check CTAN to see if there is a package for one's problem-space.

  - read _all_ of the documentation for the documentclass/package one is 
working with.

[optional] - use the Memoir class, it has an excellent manual, and the 
documented source is quite good.

  - use the freely available _TeX for the Impatient_ to get the low-down 
on TeX internals at need, or when falling back on raw TeX at need. 
Victor Eijkhout's _TeX by Topic is also available (but not free, and 
I've not found occasion to send him a check, so I try not to use it --- 
at some point I'll have to do that, but in the interim, at least my 
conscience is clear)

  - get a copy of _The LaTeX Companion, 2nd Edition_ --- the index is 
quite good in the new edition, and most topics are addressed quite 

  - use http://groups.google.com to see how others have faced similar 
difficulties (there've only been one or two which I couldn't find 
in-depth, high-level, erudite discussions on)

and lastly (and this is probably the bit which most directly applies)

  - build and look through source2e.pdf (Use the Source Luke).

That last I find tough sledding at times, and that comes back to the 
crux of our discussion, that there's no single place to get the 
knowledge / understanding which one needs to hit the ground running 
when reading it.

William Adams, publishing specialist
voice - 717-731-6707 | Fax - 717-731-6708

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