Donald Knuth’s TEX, a computerized typesetting system, provides nearly everything needed for high-quality typesetting of mathematical notations as well as of ordinary text. It is particularly notable for its flexibility, its superb hyphenation, and its ability to choose aesthetically satisfying line breaks. Because of its extraordinary capabilities, TEX has become the leading typesetting system for mathematics, science, and engineering and has been adopted as a standard by the American Mathematical Society.
A companion program, METAFONT, can construct arbitrary letterforms including, in particular, any symbols that might be needed in mathematics. Both TEX and METAFONT are widely available within the scientific and engineering community and have been implemented on a variety of computers. TEX isn’t perfect—it lacks integrated support for graphics, and some effects such as revision bars are very difficult to produce—but these drawbacks are far outweighed by its advantages.
TEX for the Impatient is intended to serve scientists, mathematicians, and technical typists for whom TEX is a useful tool rather than a primary interest, as well as computer people who have a strong interest in TEX for its own sake. We also intend it to serve both newcomers to TEX and those who are already familiar with TEX. We assume that our readers are comfortable working with computers and that they want to get the information they need as quickly as possible. Our aim is to provide that information clearly, concisely, and accessibly.
This book therefore provides a bright searchlight, a stout walking-stick, and detailed maps for exploring and using TEX. It will enable you to master TEX at a rapid pace through inquiry and experiment, but it will not lead you by the hand through the entire TEX system. Our approach is to provide you with a handbook for TEX that makes it easy for you to retrieve whatever information you need. We explain both the full repertoire of TEX commands and the concepts that underlie them. You won’t have to waste your time plowing through material that you neither need nor want.