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Formatting Information — An introduction to typesetting with LATEX

Appendix A: Installation

In this appendix…

  1. Installing the software
  2. Your Personal TEX Directory
  3. Picking an Editor
  4. Installation problems
  5. Configuring TEX search paths

TEX Live installs very easily on all modern desktop, laptop, and server platforms. You can get a copy of the DVD from your local TEX user group, or you can download the installation from CTAN in

This course is based on using one of the following distributions of TEX from the TEX Collection DVD:

TEX Live

for Unix & GNU/Linux, including Apple Macintosh OS X, and Microsoft Windows (this supersedes Thomas Esser’s teTEX distribution which is no longer supported);


for Microsoft Windows (by Thomas Feuerstack) which includes Christian Schenk’s MiKTEX, the TEXStudio editor, Ghostscript, and GSview;


for Apple Macs running OS X. MacTEX includes the TEXshop editor.

Other implementations of TEX can be downloaded from CTAN, but the above are the standard systems. LATEX is included with all distributions of TEX.

The TEX Collection DVD is issued annually by TUG in conjunction with many of the local TEX user groups around the world (see for addresses), and edited by Sebastian Rahtz, Karl Berry, Manfred Lotz, and the authors of the software mentioned above. These people give an enormous amount of their personal time and energy to building and distributing these systems, and they deserve the thanks and support of the user community for all they do.

There is also a selection of commercial distributions you can buy, as described in Table 1 above: they all process LATEX identically, but there are some differences in size, speed, packaging, installation, support, and extra software provided.

If you can’t or won’t install TEX (for example, your computer is corporate issue and locked down to prevent additional software being installed), there are several interactive online systems available such as ShareLATEX, LATEX Base, Overleaf, Papeeris, and others. These systems have an edit window and a PDF window, just like an installed editor, and all run LATEX exactly as if it was installed on your desktop.

One final thing before we start: always check to see if there is a more recent version of the installation program online. See item ‘Use the latest versions’ below for more details.