Install Latex on Windows

Since I advertise Latex whenever possible, I often have to explain how to install and use this typesetting system. So here is a short introduction for Windows computers. If you are using Linux, you can install Latex via the package manager, but you will have to use another editor. For this installation I use

  • MikTex 2.8
  • Texnic-Center 1.2
  • Acrobat Reader 9.2

To make sure, I tried the following installation on a Windows XP Dell Optiplex 745, a somewhat outdated machine. I use a powerline net connected to DSL 6000. By chance, I started almost exactly at 12.00 o’clock.

  • 12.00: I found „miktex“ through Google, and went to their download page at http://www.miktex.org/2.8/setup. Download the 90MB basic setup.
  • 12.06: Start of the installer.
  • 12.09: The MikTex installer has finished.
  • 12.10: I found „texnic center“ through Google, and download this Latex editor from http://www.texniccenter/org.
  • 12.11: Started installing the Texnic-Center.
  • 12.13: To make sure, I searched the current version of the Acrobat reader through Google. Make sure, you go to a page at Adobe! Download the 27MB installer. You can optionally install an „Adobe Download Manager“ for Firefox, but I avoided this.
  • 12.14: Finally, I installed Adobe Reader 9.2.
  • 12.17: End of installation.

You are now almost ready to use Latex. Next you need to do the following.

  • Start the Texnic-Center with the desktop icon.
  • In the assistant dialog, setup the path to my MikTex installation (why can’t it find that itself?). On my German computer, it installed to „C:\Programme\Miktex 2.8\miktex\bin“. Make sure, you find the directory with the binaries „bin“. Then click to continue.
  • Open a new page, and enter a rudimentary Latex code (see below).
  • Press the icon to translate the code to DVI  or press Ctrl-F7. You find that icon among the icons in the right part of the top row. Make sure the drop down field with the profiles in the top row shows „Latex => DVI“.
  • You will be reminded to save your code first. Do that. Save into your home directory or any other directory Latex can write to, not the programs folder.
  • You probably have errors in your code. The errors show in the output window, which is very small by default, but you can drag it using the left edge to another place. Drag it inside the text window, and it will appear as a normal sub-window.
  • Study the errors and fix them. You can close the output window each time.
  • Recompile the text, until there are no errors left.
  • Press the preview icon on the right of the compile button.
  • A previewer (yap, installed with Miktex) will open and you can see the text. Resize the previewer, so that you can see the complete width of the page.
  • For a try, change the profile to „Latex => PDF“, compile and preview. This time, the Acrobat reader will open and show your result. (You may have to configure the reader and restart it, if it is started for the first time after installation.)

Here is a „Hello World!“ for Latex.

documentclass{article}
begin{document}
Hello World!
end{document}

For more information, you can study the help that comes with the Texnic-Center. It does even contain help about the Latex system itself. You will easily find introductions to Latex in the Net, and there are some good books containing more complete references.

Update

It’s been a while, but I think the process above should still work. However, I am no longer using yap. I use pdflatex all the time. There are several reasons for this. First, pdflatex can insert all sorts of graphics, including PNG. Moreover, the PDF display of beamer slides will be displayed correctly. Finally, I save the file as PDF anyway. So why bother with DVI?

You can do the same, unless you use postscript images, which I do not recommend. You should definitely use a bitmap image, which was created for the exact print size you need with a resolution good enough for print. Make sure, the width of the lines, the font size, and other items in your image are good for the print size and fit the rest of the page. Scaling PS is not a good way to achieve proper design.

Since the Acrobat reader holds the file open, you need to close it and restart it to view your document. Texnic-Center will position the display at the current page. But there is a better way: Install Sumatra PDF and edit the settings of Latex => PDF in the Texnic-Center, so that it uses this preview. Sumatra PDF will reload, if the PDF file changes, and it stays at the current position

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