LaTex: What, Why, When, How

Martin Manullang
4 min readOct 24, 2021



LaTex is a document-preparation software program. The writer writes in plain text rather than using “What You See Is What You Get” word processors such as Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, and Apple Pages. You feel like doing programming just to write a few lines of words. If you want to style your text consistently throughout your documents, you may use markup tagging conventions like bolding and italicizing.

Writing Equation in LaTex (Credit: Latexstudio)


If you can do formatting easily by just clicking a button or menu on the toolbar, why bother using commands and scripts? This is what came to my mind when I started learning to type documents with LaTex.

The first reason I’m going to say is, the results are entirely different. Your document must be neat, and you don’t have to bother with formatting. You seem to be reading a scientific paper that looks professional.

Numerous life-science or social-science articles have an unattractive appearance: irregular typesetting, poor justification, and worse hyphenation. Consider the dissertations on mathematics, physics, and computer science. The majority of them appear to be far more attractive. While the number of dissertations I have examined is not statistically significant, I do notice a pattern. Those scientists frequently use LaTeX. LaTeX’s techniques for justifying text and controlling hyphenation are far superior to those employed by Word. This is why a LaTeX-authored text will have far more professional formatting. While your research is the essential component of your paper, you want to present it aesthetically attractive and professionally.

The second reason I use LaTex is that you can focus on the content rather than the layout. It’s difficult enough to write a research paper or thesis. It would be best if you considered what your experiments mean, how to describe them adequately, and how to do it in an easily understood manner. With WYSIWYG editors, it isn’t easy to concentrate on the writing and not continually work on the document’s formatting. In LaTeX, you write the text first and then let LaTeX handle the composition. It may take some time to adjust, but you will quickly discover how much more productive you are this way.

Typing in LaTex (Credit:


I certainly wouldn’t use LaTex for every document work. There are certain conditions under which I will not use LaTex. That is when dealing with documents that have many complex tables. For some reason, although there are many converters from excel or google sheets to LaTex, for tables, LaTex is still far inefficient compared to Word.

Another reason I don’t use LaTex is when I have to collaborate, whether it’s with a research partner or have to submit the document for review by my professor. Plus, if your professor is not familiar with typeset in LaTex. Avoid transitioning to LaTeX. Consider it not at all. According to my experience, once you begin a collaborative LaTeX project, your colleagues will grumble, and you will ultimately convert everything to a standard format two hours before the deadline.


On the internet, there are lots of resources that you can use to learn LaTex. One of them is by reading this book which you can download for free.

For LaTex processing software, I highly recommend using Overleaf. Overleaf is a cloud-based collaborative LaTeX editor for the creation, modification, and publication of scientific publications. It collaborates with various scientific publications to provide official LaTeX templates and direct submission links for journals. Today’s overleaf combines a sophisticated LaTeX source editor with track changes and comments, third-party interfaces with services such as Dropbox, GitHub, and Git, and a Rich Text mode that enables you to work in a more Word-processor-like environment if desired. They also offer 30 minutes learning guide for beginners. Check it here.

Overleaf Interface (Credit:

Begin small and basic, then gradually expand. When learning to use LaTeX for the first time limit to a small project, reasonably easy document that predominantly texts with little math typesetting necessary, small, early victories will persuade you that it is worthwhile to learn LaTeX.

Start with templates. Even myself, until now, I have not been able to work on documents with configurations and layouts that I made myself. Templates are beneficial. Overleaf provides various templates, ranging from standard templates from journal publishers to customized templates for reports, resumes, homework, articles, and even presentations.


True, LaTeX has a considerably steeper learning curve than MS Word. However, creating a simple LaTeX document (text, figures, titles, and tables) is not difficult. There are countless instances available. The difficulty arises in comprehending LaTeX’s ideas, such as floating objects.

In the end, there is an impression and a pleasant feeling when you finish a document in LaTex and convert it to PDF. There is something different when looking at the results. I hope you can feel what I feel.

Are you ready to use LaTex to process your documents?



Martin Manullang

Lifetime Learner. Write about my restlessness | Computer Engineering Ph.D. student | about me :