News: TUG membership in 2017

The rates for electronic membership (TUGboat and TeX software online, no paper/DVD) decreased: it’s now $15 for students, seniors and TeX friends from countries with modest economies, and $45 for regular (electronic) membership, both early bird until March 31, 2017.

By joining now, you can directly be part of and support the TUG TeX activities. You know,

  • Maintaining and developing the TeX Live distribution, that is also the base of MacTeX
  • Yearly international TeX conferences
  • The TUGboat journal
  • Supporting projects, such as LaTeX3, CTAN, LuaTeX and MetaPost and font creation

What do you think? Like to comment here, or on my blog post?

It’s all up to us:

Posted in TUG

Manually correct letter spacing: Kerning

From time to time it is necessary to manually correct the spacing between two letters, i.e. to add some extra kerning. The macro to add this kind of horizontal space is \kern followed by the amount of spacing Since it is a TeX primitive the “argument” must not be in braces and the trailing space is optional.


The following image shows the result: The upper line uses the natural kerning with too much space between letters W and o and the lower line shows the manually correction.

Example of extra kerning between the letters W and o

It is suitable to use a font-size-relative length unit like em.

Of course this would be lot of work to do but it is a good idea to at least do it for titles, headlines and such. Furthermore there are typefaces/fonts requiring more corrections than others …

Exporting from LyX to MS Word and LibreOffice

Julien Dutand has written a tutorial about how to export from LyX to MS Word Office XML format (.docx) and LibreOffice OpenDocument (.odt) with bibliography, almost out of the box. It requires a rather new version of LyX (2.1 and above) and the pandoc document converter. The article provides detailed installation instructions, and troubleshooting steps. Once it’s set up, it’s just clicking to Export in the main menu. Very handy!

Another part of the article deals with encoding and gives advice for exporting documents with bibliographies, and explains using bibliography styles with citation style language (CSL) format.

Here is the article: LyX Tutorial: export .docx or .odt with bibliography.

TeX on-line documentation

On PCs, tablets and smart-phones you can easily access TeX manuals and documentation via a web site:

What does it provide?

  • Keyword search with auto-completion as you type, listing all matches
  • OpenSearch for browsers with a search engine toolbar
  • Documentation sorted in categories by topic
  • Accessing TeX documentation even without having TeX installed
  • Reading TeX documentation on any PDF capable device with a web browser, such as a smart-phone.
  • Newest documentation even if your PC has an older TeX version
  • Reading a package manual before installing it
  • Easy-to-remember standardized link syntax<packagename>
  • Forums, such as and have buttons and BBCode tags for linking keywords (package names) to the corresponding documentation

Recently it got an update: read more.

Define new macros for logical markup

When you encounter some logical markup, i.e. some things that belong to the same “class” and should be displayed equally (like names etc.), don’t use \textit and the like to format them but instead define a new macro to format those things. Then you’ll be consistent and you can change things later on quite easy.

In your text there are lots of names, that should be – at the moment – displayed in italics. Then define a macro \person (or what ever you consider a meaningful name for these things) to format the output:

This gives you the opportunity to change the styling later and even do some fancy stuff like highlighting only the first occurrence of a name or generating an index with those names etc.

Some will say: “But I can just search and replace \textit later.” Yes but not if you used it also to format book titles or other things that should keep the italic format ;-)

Don’t use short cut macros

Today I took over a client’s project containing lots of definitions like

etc. Don’t do this! It’s absolutely awful to maintain and in some month when you get back on your document you’ll probably have forgotten what all those shortcuts mean. On a first sight they save some time while typing but that is actually a task for autocompletion and a proper editor. Furthermore things probably get complicated if you redefine (\renewcommand) macros that are already defined without knowing what you do and which other packages rely on the original definition …

It gets even worse if you share your documents with someone else and force them to learn you abbreviations, while e.g. \beta is perfectly clear for everyone. Not to think about a case where two authors use different definitions/abbreviations like

Thus: Don’t use shortcuts instead of the original macros and use “speaking” (meaningful) names for your macros.

Post updated according to Clemens’ and Moss’ comments.