Sunday, March 25, 2007

How I got LaTeX.

Well I though that I'd write down exactly what I did to get LaTeX on my computer. It was by no means difficult, but I have the unique ability of making even the simplest things difficult!

I followed the link that Steve gave me, and started reading the installation documents linked on the left.
I read them twice maybe thrice, and then tried clicking on:
But this resulted in:
Yes, it wouldn't let me install it! I probably hadn't read the instructions properly, was my initial reaction, but no matter what I did the same error message cropped up! I went back to the link that Steve provided and clicked on the link that took me to the home page. From there I clicked on another link which took me too:
The file that I downloaded was pretty big (about 500 mb to be precise). Anyway, from the page shown above I clicked on, 'ProTeXt-2.-.exe 536108 KB 06/03/2007 23:52:00' (i.e the link on the top!). Clicking this will ask you to 'save file' (I used FireFox), click save and then wait. (I'm guessing that you'll know where it's being saved to!). The only reason I chose this one was because of it's size! I don't really know what clicking the others will do, but do feel free to try. (I'm not responsible for anything wrong that might happen).

(If you are using Internet explorer, after clicking on the above link, you'll be asked whether you want to 'run' or 'save' the file. Select save and choose a location to save (make sure you remember this).

Now when I said wait, I don't really know how long you'll be waiting for. You could do what I did, and leave it running overnight (FireFox said it'll take two hours and IE6 is saying 5!). How long it takes obviously depends on your system I suppose, and your Internet connection, so just sit back and relax/sleep.

Anyway, when you wake up in the morning and find the installation has been completed, we can move onto the next step.

I saved the file onto the desktop, so in the morning I found the file 'ProTeXt-2.0.exe' sitting there ever so nicely. When you (double!) click on that, the following screen will appear:
You might need WinRar for this, or some sort of 'winzip' type of softrware. (You can get it free from the internet I think). The directory where you extract this is not important, but remember where you extract it to. (I just extracted it to the desktop). Click on install and let it do it's stuff (shouldn't take too long, but then again it won't exactly take a minute!). When this has finished, find where you had extracted the file to and open the file. The following files will be displayed in the folder. You could explore them further, but to get LaTeX on your machine first click on the file which I have made a red box around:
Now after clicking this, click 'next' on the box that appears. This will open up this document, from which I'd previously encountered a problem. However, now (after reading the instructions of course) you can safely click: When it asks you to open the file, select open and then follow the instructions of the manual to get MikTeX onto your system. However, you may find the downloading guide from AoPS useful as well. After the setup is complete, you will have safely loaded MiK TeX onto your computer. (I loaded it into c:\program files\miktext).

Following on from the instructions in the pdf file (note: make sure you use the pdf file which opened after clicking 'setup' and not the one I've linked!), you will now install TeXnic Center. Once again click on the blue writing which says, 'Click Here to Install TeXnix Center'. Select open when asked, and follow the instructions (using the pdf file or the AoPS guide). This is pretty straight forward, but if like me you get slightly confused and wonder which directory to install this in, then don't worry. You can install it in the default directory which it provides you i.e. c\Program Files\TeXnicCenter\.

After this setup has been complete, you now are ready to use TeXnicCenter. If you selected to have a shortcut on the desktop, then click it to load TeXnic, if not then go to start>program >TeXnicCenter>TeXnicCenter. The first time you run this a 'configuration wizard' will appear. I suggest following the instructions on the AoPS website (6-7), to get this sorted. And then there you have it-LaTeX on your computer.

It's not that difficult, and I'm sure there's other ways of installing it. However this is the way I did it, and it worked (woo hoo). In the pdf document there is an extension section at the end, but I'm ignoring this for the time being! Seems like a safe option at the moment, but obviously once you're more familiar with things then you can venture further. There are also links for alternative text editors, however like the author of the instructions said, that depends on personal choice. (TexCenter is free whereas WinEdt is shareware, however WinEdt does seem popular.)

Nope, I've not finished yet! I then proceeded by installing the 'Ghost' thingies, however that was just for the sake of completeness. I don't really know what they're about (the word post script crops up a lot), but will probably soon find out I suppose! So I guess they're optional, and you don't have to install them.

That's it after that you're done! Now obviously, I had no idea what to do after this, but once again the AoPS guide to creating your first document came to the rescue. (The pdf instructions show images of what to click, so using both you'll be ok). The AoPS site has many more information about LaTeX and I'm currently working through the basics on maths etc. If there is something unclear about anything I've written, then please do let me know. And if you are brave enough to follow what I did, then feel free to ask any questions. (although I may not always be able to answer them, I'm sure someone will :) ).


Steve said...

Congratulation on getting that working. I think the trouble you had at the beginning was that the ProTeXt pdf assumed you had got a CD with it on

Allow me to make a few conjectures as to why you’ve
got a ProTEXt CD in your drive

After all it's only in the last couple of years anyome would think of downloading a 500MB file. But I agree it should be made much clearer and now you've done so!

Ghostscript will be useful behind the scenes for postscript files. Much of the time you won't realise you are using it.

Finally, don't forget the AoPS LaTeX forum for quesions such as "how I do ... in LaTeX". You may recognise the moderator :)

Jake said...

Finally, don't forget the AoPS LaTeX forum for quesions such as "how I do ... in LaTeX".

That seems like a pretty handy resource.

*adds to LaTeX folder in favourites*

beans said...


Thanks, it feels cool! Yes it seems that I didn't actually read that part more than once! :o

I shudder to think how long it'll take to download if you don't have broadband! Thanks again, although I probably wouldn't have got it setup without your help. :) (I'm probably going to burn it onto CD for safekeeping).

Which moderator, 'stevem'? hehe, I think you'd give him a run for his money ;) (ok, that was lame- but you know what I mean!)

Yes, that's a neat forum and a neat site! Although you've just reminded me to organise my favourites- they're a mess!

Anonymous said...


Installed the same package you did for Latek but when I used the Configuration Wizard in TexnicCenter, it couldn't find latex.exe, tex.exe on my machine. Any suggestions? Otherwise I followed the instructions to the letter.

beans said...


This is what the AoPS site says:

1. When the program starts, a Tips window will open. Click Close. The program will then walk you through the configuration wizard:
* When it askes you for the "full path of the directory where the executables" are located, type C:\Program Files\MiKTeX 2.5\miktex\bin (Note: if you changed the default location when installing MiKTeX, then you'll need to replace "C:\Program Files\MiKTeX 2.5" with the directory to which you installed MiKTeX.)
* If it asks you to pick a PostScript viewer, you may just leave everything blank and just click "Next". Similarly if it asks you to pick a DVI viewer, just leave everything blank and click "Next". (It may or may not ask you these things, depending on how your computer is configured.)

I guess it depends on where you've installed it. In TexnicCenter when you click on build and then define output profiles (Alt F7), do you get this diagram:
(in some way?)

The replies towards the end of this post, might be of some help aswell.

Sorry for not being much help! Hope you get it working, and let me know if you have any more problems. :)

(The anon commenter emailed me the question, so I thought I'd post my response and the question here.)