LaTeX Questions Answered
It can be tedious to make an attempt at an equation in LaTeX while working in Pressbooks, especially if you’re writing a particularly complex equation or you’re still getting the hang of LaTeX and need to trial and error a lot. You may find yourself repeatedly writing and hitting Preview. To avoid this, you can use an external LaTeX editor, which may be in the form of a web-based or desktop application.
The Interactive LaTeX Editor by Paul Lutus is a web-based editor that quickly renders LaTeX using up to three different renderers, including MathJax. This is particularly useful to Pressbooks users, since you can see exactly which commands do and do not work with MathJax. The editor also allows you to see examples of symbols, Greek letters, and common science and math expressions written in LaTeX.
MiKTeX is a free distribution of TeX/LaTeX. When downloaded, MiKTeX also comes with the editor TeXworks. This option is less ideal than Paul Lutus’s editor, as you must use some basic LaTeX document structuring for anything to compile correctly, which is not necessary in Pressbooks. However, all the bare-bones formatting you need is the following:
Write your equations here.
The advantage of MiKTeX is that, if you try to use a command from a package that is not currently being used by your installation of LaTeX, MiKTeX will offer to download it for you. This helps to circumvent some of the mystifying errors that can appear when you try out a command found online without realizing that it’s from a package that you need to explicitly call on.
If you are a Mac user, a recommended program is LaTeXiT. The graphical interface of this equation editor allows you just to focus on equations, which is great for beginners who don’t want to be bogged down in the details of document formatting, but the program also allows for further customization from those who do want to control things like what packages are used.