Step 1. Read the introduction paragraph "A few things you need to know first"
Step 2. Go install the appropriate components
Step 3. Compile a test file
Every LaTeX installation has three components: a back end, a front end and a viewer. The back end is the set of latex macro's that will be used to compile your documents. The front end is a simple text editor and the viewer allows you to view the pdf document that is produced. In principle, any simple text editor would work as a latex front end, but in practice it is useful to use a text editor that is integrated with latex. Similarly, any pdf viewer will work as a viewer, and most of us will likely use Adobe reader as our viewer. This part is made simpler for the Mac users, because the TeXshop installation integrates all three components in one installation (see below).
Step 2: Install the components
For Mac: TeXshop
Viewer: Adobe Reader (We assume that you already have this).
Back End: MikTex (Note: this is the link to version 2.8, this is the most recent version as of July 29 2010)
Do a basic installation. Make sure the installation is in
This should be the default directory, but you will need this pathname later when you set up the front end.
Front End: TeXnic Center is the link to the download, and here is the homepage
There are numerous decent options for the front end of the latex installation on a PC. We are recommending TeXnic Center because it works well "right out the box" and because it is the front end that we are most familiar with and will be able to best help you with. For more details on the options, look at the installation page of the wikibook.
During the installation you will be asked for the pathname to the executable files. This should be:
Once you have it installed, set the drag-down menu in the tool bar to say "Latex to PDF"
Step 3: Compile a Test File
Go to the "files for downloads" page and download two files: test.tex and testCompare.pdf. Open test.tex inside your front end (TeXnic Center or TeXshop) and compile it. To compile in TeXnic Center, makes sure the drag down menu in the tool bar reads "LaTeX => PDF" and then press cntrl+shift+F5 (see screenshot at bottom of page). To compile in TeXshop, either click the button that says typeset or press shift+apple+L.
This should produce a pdf file that looks exactly like testCompare.pdf. It will also produce the files named test.log and test.aux. You can ignore (or even delete) these for now.
We have two goals here: (1) make sure that you have successfully uploaded all of the components and now have a working latex installation and (2) make sure that you have installed all of the packages that we will use in the workshop. These packages should come as part of the back-end installation by default, but you might need internet access to use them the first time. We probably won't have internet access at the workshop.
For TeXnic Center Users:
The basic installation of TeXnic Center only uploads a basic set of packages. Anytime you need a new package, TeXnic center goes online to find it. The test.tex file should include all of the packages that we will need for the workshop. This also means that the first time you compile test.tex it will be quite slow because the software has to go online and download all of the packages.