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Formatting information — An introduction to typesetting with LATEX

Chapter 3: CTAN and packages

In this chapter…

  1. Packages
  2. Installing classes and packages
  3. Online help

The Comprehensive TEX Archive Network (CTAN) is a repository of Web documents and files from HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers worldwide which contain copies of almost every piece of free software related to TEX and LATEX.

CTAN is based on three main servers, and there are several online indexes available. There are complete TEX and LATEX systems for all platforms, utilities for text and graphics processing, conversion programs into and out of LATEX, printer drivers, extra typefaces, and (possibly the most important) the LATEX packages. The three main servers are:

  1. For example, there is no xcolor.dtx and xcolor.ins for the xcolor package because it forms part of the graphics bundle, which is installed on all LATEX systems anyway. Such packages change very rarely, as they form part of the core of LATEX and are very stable. You should never try to update these packages in isolation. 

  2. Almost all of these have been updated to work with LATEX, so they should be installed as in the step ‘Install the files’

  3. Note that this means newsreaders for the Usenet News (NNTP) service. It does not mean syndication readers for RSS, which are a different thing entirely — these are unfortunately also sometimes referred to as ‘newsreaders’.