[texhax] Designing books with LaTeX

Stacy Claxton sclaxton at scribenet.com
Wed Jun 4 21:46:54 CEST 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

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.

Stacy Claxton 

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