ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Technology»
  • Computers & Software»
  • Computer Software

Three productivity tools for LaTeX implementations

Updated on February 17, 2011

George Grätzer, in his book More Math Into LATEX, said that a good LaTeX implementations must have three important productivity tools: Synchronization, Block comment, and Jump to a line.

In his short article I try to compare two popular Latex distributions, MikTex, and TeX Live. The former comes with TeXworks, while the later TeXShop. To my experience, TeXShop is better than TeXworks with regard to these three tools.


Syncronization facilitates moving quickly between the source file and the typeset file, to locate the corresponding place in the source file and from the source file to the corresponding place in the typeset file. TeXWorks highlights the corresponding line or a block, while TeXShop can locate a single word or even punctuate, with color highlight in source file or with a red circle on the preview file. But if you have \include files, it seems not so sensitive.

Block comment

Block comments are very useful:

1. When looking for a LATEX error, you may want LATEX to ignore a block of text in the source file.

2. Often you may want to make comments about your project but not have them printed or you may want to keep text on hand while you try a different option. To accomplish this, insert a comment character, %, at the start of each line where the text appears. These lines are ignored when the LATEX file is processed.

In TeXShop, select a number of lines in a source document, and choose the menu Source > Comment. All the lines, the whole block, are commented out. The reverse is done with Source > Uncomment.

In TeXWorks, this is done by choosing the menu Format>Comment and the reverse Format>Uncomment.

Jump to a line

This is specified by the line number in the source file. To find an error, LaTeX suggests that you jump to a line. In TeXShop, you can click "Go error" button on the typesetting console, while in TeXWorks, you have to look at the error message, and find the line number, and click the menu search--> Go to line. The error message may look like this:

! Misplaced alignment tab character &.

l.103 &

103 is the line number. You type this number in the 'Go to line" dialog popup window to locate the error in source file.

Pay careful attention how your LATEX implementation works. This enables you to rapidly perform the editing cycle and utilize the productivity tools when necessary.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      kap 6 years ago


      Another important thing is that once you've learned typing equations in latex it's MUCH faster than pointing and clicking with your mouse in word.

      Not to mention that things like cross references, equation numbering etc just works without messing up randomly so you don't have to manually copy and paste everything you just did into a new word document 2 days before deadline.

    • profile image

      curiousCharacter 6 years ago

      For more on this subject, I have a blog post about word processing and mathematics:

    • slc334 profile image

      slc334 7 years ago from Canada

      Cool, good to know. Thanks!

    • jim.sheng profile image

      Dalriada Books Ltd 7 years ago from UK

      When Donald Knuth wrote his first TeX ?1978?typesetting system for his math book, people didn't have MS Word (1983) yet, not even mention equation editors. Now some say TeX can typeset math equations (or any documents such as Music) more beautifully than MS Office or other similar softwares. TeX and it's successors are free, so people don't pay hundreds of dollars for a Microsoft Office if they can get their job done for free and even better.

    • slc334 profile image

      slc334 7 years ago from Canada

      Ahh, thanks, but then how is this different from equation editors in word processors like Word and Pages?

    • jim.sheng profile image

      Dalriada Books Ltd 7 years ago from UK

      Hi, I don't think LaTex is very popular among office workers or common folks, this is a tool (or toy now it seems) for typesetting academic papers, especially those with a lot of Math equations or other symbols.

    • slc334 profile image

      slc334 7 years ago from Canada

      I find LaTeX very interesting, but am not sure the benefits of such a program. Can you explain to me what makes LaTeX so popular, and why?