Righting what is wrong

On this page I will assemble various tools for mathematical writing, aimed at MIT students.

Blue is mostly tools for writing mathematical papers, and red mostly tools for presentation slides.

You know far better than I that reading the manual is usually not a good use of your time. In the case of LaTeX, people often wish to read the manual in order to learn how to change something: margins, fonts, spacing... This is most often a mistake. LaTeX makes many choices for you, and usually they are made for good reasons (involving the pleasure and convenience of the reader, not you).
Nevertheless, there are times when reading the manual is just the thing; so here is The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2e (101 pages) by Tobias Oetiker, Hubert Partl, Irene Hyna and Elisabeth Schlegl.

The American Mathematical Society is more than 125 years old, and so has the wisdom to change LaTeX in a positive direction. The big changes they provide are invoked by the amssymb and amsmath packages loaded at the top of the template below. You can read about AMSLaTeX at Short Math Guide for LaTeX (17 pages) by Michael Downes. One most important point is that AMSLaTeX offers more and better options for aligning families of related equations.

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR MATHEMATICAL WRITING (5 pages) by Bjorn Poonen has a great many valuable tips.

A guide to writing mathematics (17 pages) by Dr. Kevin Lee is a more general guide to how to think about what you are doing.

This is a LaTeX template that you are welcome to use for your papers. Applying pdflatex to this template gives the (much less useful) output file.

A collection of strategies for revising math papers prepared as a collaboration wbetween Susan Ruff and Professor Jerison in 2014. Ideas not just for getting rid of mistakes, but for making everything better.

For presentations, if you wish to use slides, then we suggest you make a beamer file using this template. The graphics files used by this template are in this tar file or inside this directory. There are many introductions to beamer on the web: an old but reasonable one is this one.

The overall appearance of your presentation is governed by the theme; there is a gallery of possibilities. Once you have chosen one, insert its name in place of "Goettingen" near the top of the template.

The most common problem with slide presentations is putting too much information on each slide. Mostly the audience should be listening to you talk; if they need to read a lot of details in a small font on the slide, they won't be listening.

A related problem is going too fast. A nice feature of blackboard talks is that the speed you can write is not so different from the speed your classmates can understand. It's guaranteed that the speed you can click is much greater than the speed they can understand.

A built-in disadvantage of slides over (under?) blackboards is that it's difficult or impossible to leave important definitions and notation up where the audience can look back at them. One solution is to use some boards along with your slides. If you use a beamer theme that shows all section headings on every slide, you may be able to use that to help you as well.

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