Getting support

Local user Groups and support

Sooner or later you will find that you are trying to do something that just won't work, and you can't find out why.

Whatever you do, don't despair. There are several ways of getting support even though (or because?) there is no single person, institute or company that you can complain to. In fact, you will find that there are thousands of people all over the world who are quite willing to help you for free. Just like someone else helped them when they had problems they couldn't solve. And maybe one day you will be in a position to help...

Support media

There are various ways of getting support. At least one of them you are already using: reading books and articles.

The rest of this chapter is about support through Internet. We assume that you are familiar with the major Internet applications "e-mail" (electronic mail), `World Wide Web' (usually called WWW, or "the Web"), "FTP" (file transfer protocol) and "Usenet" (also known as "News"). If you are not, then we suggest you read a book about it. The book shops are full of them. Or ask a friend to explain. Soon Internet skills will be considered as common as being able to make a telephone call.

Books and courses

On the cd-rom that comes with this book you will find lots of additional information such as "FAQ"s (Frequently Asked Questions), courses on TeX/LaTeX in several languages and documentation on TeX related software.

There are several ways to become proficient in TeX or LaTeX. Some of the user groups (see next section) offer courses in TeX or LaTeX at levels ranging from absolute beginners to advanced macro writers, or Metafont users, or MetaPost users.

Many books have been written on the subject, and there are some introductory texts available. Michael Doob's A Gentle Introduction to TeX, a Manual for Self-study is a fine article to start with. It is even available in several languages!

If you plan to use LaTeX you may want to read J. Warbrick's Essential LaTeX, or G. Maltby's An introduction to TeX and friends. Both can be obtained from many file servers and the 4TeX CD. But after you have mastered the essentials of LaTeX you will soon feel the need for more documentation. This is provided by the Leslie Lamport's LaTeX, A Document Preparation System, which is available from Addisson-Wesley. The most complete book on LaTeX is The LaTeX Companion by Michel Goossens, Frank Mittelbach and Alexander Samarin. We will mention three other recommendable books on LaTeX: H. Kopka and P.W. Daly: A guide to LaTeX, H. Kopka's LaTeX: Erweiterungsmöglichkeiten in German, and R. Seroul and S. Levy's A Beginner's Book of TeX. ConTeXt users should read Hans Hagen's ConTeXt manual.

Advanced TeX and LaTeX users will often write their own macros and need much more insight. Their reference manual is The TeXbook by Donald Knuth, the author of TeX. This is the most comprehensive work on TeX, but some consider it not very easy to read and understand for beginners. Another commendable book on TeX is Victor Eijkhout's TeX by Topic, which is not for the novice, but for users with basic understanding of TeX, who want to explore the full potential of TeX. S. Von Bechtolsheim's multi-volume opus TeX in Practice is also a good choice.

Metafont users should get a copy of Donald Knuth's The Metafont book, available from Addison-Wesley. MetaPost users should read John Hobby's The MetaPost System and his A User's Manual for MetaPost, the first in English as well as in Polish.

TeX user groups around the world

All over the world TeX users have formed networks of user groups on an informal basis. These user groups consist of enthusiastic TeX users who share their problems and solutions with anyone who wants to join the TeX community. They usually communicate through e-mail and often produce printed journals with contributions from members.

The journals and discussions on e-mail are essential for users who want to be informed about the latest developments. E-mail is important for getting information on, e.g. what is the newest version of program x, where do I find a macro for problem y, how do I install program z. For this purpose, a list of frequently asked questions ("FAQ") is maintained, and is distributed regularly.

Below we have listed all TeX user groups currently known to us.

AsTeX (French-speaking)
Michel Lavaud, President
Association pour la diffusion de logiciels scientifiques lies à TeX
Association AsTeX
BP 6532
45066 Orleans cedex 2
tel: 33 2 38 64 09 94
discussion list
CSTUG (Czech and Slovak Republics)
Petr Sojka, President
Eeskoslovenske sdru?ení u?ivatelu TeX u
CsTUG, c/o FI MU
Botanickà 68a
CZ-602 00 Brno
Czech Republic
fax: +420-5-755896
WWW page:
journal: Zpravodaj CSTUG
CyrTUG (Russia)
Irina Makhovaya, Executive Director
Associaciia Pol'zovatelei Kirillicheskogo TeX'a
Mir Publishers
2, Pervyi Rizhskii Pereulok
Moscow 129820
tel: +7 95 286 0622, 286-1777
fax: +7 95 288 9522
WWW page:
Dante e.V. (German-speaking)
Thomas Koch, President
Deutschsprachige Anwendervereinigung TeX e.V.
Postfach 101840
D-69008 Heidelberg
tel: +49 6221 29766
fax: +49 6221 167906
WWW page:
journal: Die TeXnische Komödie
Estonian User Group
Enn Saar, Tartu
Astrophysical Observatory, Toravere
EE 2444 Estonia
Greek TeX Friends Group (Greek speaking)
Apostolos Syropoulos, President
366, 28th October Str.
GR-671 00 Xanthi
tel: +30 541 28704
WWW page:
GUST (Poland)
Tomasz Przechlewski (President)
Polska Grupa Ulytkowników Systemu TeX
Instytut Matematyki Uniwersytetu Gdanskiego
ul. Wita Stwosza 57
80 - 952 Gdansk
WWW page:
journal: GUST Bulletin
GUTenberg (French-speaking)
Michel Goossens, President
Groupe francophone des Utilisateurs de TeX
Association GUTenberg
BP 10
F-93220 Gagny principal
tel: +33 1 44 32 37 96
fax: +33 1 44 32 20 80
WWW page:
journal: Les Cahier GUTenberg
GUTH (Grupo de Usuarios de TeX Hispanoparlantes)
No formal user group yet.
Public mailing list: (Send subscription requests to this list).
Julio Sanchez
Isaac Newton 11
PTM Tres Cantos
E-28760 Madrid
WWW page:
ITALIC (Irish)
No formal user group yet.
Public mailing list: (send subscription requests to
Peter Flynn
Computer Centre
University College
iTeXnici (Italian)
(Unofficial) Italian TeX Users Group
Giovanni Pensa
Lithuanian TeX Users Group
Vytas Statulevicius, Chair
Akademijos 4
LT-2600 Vilnius
tel: +370 2 359 609
fax: +370 2 359 804
Nordic TeX Users Group (Scandinavian countries)
Dag Langmyhr, Chair
Nordic TeX Users Group
Department of Informatics
PO Box 1080 Blindern
University of Oslo
N-0316 Oslo
tel: +47 22 85 24 50
fax: +47 22 85 24 01
WWW page:
NTG (Dutch-speaking)
Erik Frambach, Chair
Nederlandstalige TeX Gebruikersgroep
Postbus 394
NL-1740 AJ Schagen
The Netherlands
WWW page:
journal: MAPS
TeXCeH (Slovenian TeX User Group)
Vladimir Batagelj
Jadranska 19
SI-61111 Ljubljana
Tirant lo TeX (Grup d'usuaris catalanoparlants de TeX)
No formal user group yet.
Mailing list:
WWW page:
TUG (International user group)
Mimi Jett, President
TeX Users Group
1466 NW Front Avenue, Suite 3141
Portland, OR 97209
tel: +1 503 223 9994
fax: +1 503 223 3960
WWW page:
journal: TUGboat
TUGIndia (Indian)
Prof.Dr. K.S.S. Nambooripad, Chairman
Indian TeX Users Group
Kripa, TC 24/548, Sastha Gardens
Thycaud, Trivandrum 695014
tel: +91 471 324341
fax: +91 471 333186
UK TUG (United Kingdom)
Philip Taylor, Chairman
UK TeX Users' Group
For information:
Peter Abbott
1 Eymore Close
Selly Oak
Birmingham B29 4LB
WWW page:
journal: Baskerville

Mailing lists

Many of the user groups listed above communicate through e-mail, by means of mailing lists. A mailing list is an electronic mail system that anyone can subscribe to. All mail that is posted to the list is automatically distributed to all subscribers. These lists are often used to ask for help and to discuss problems, new developments etc.

Below is a list of some active mailing lists. The common language used in discussions on these mailing lists is English, unless stated differently.

tex-nl (Dutch)
tex-euro (European)
tex-d-l (German)
4tex (about 4TeX)
gut (French)
ellhnika (Greek)
gust-l (Polish)
spanish-tex (Spanish)
italic-l (Irish)
yunus (Turkish)
litprog (about literate programming)
typo-l (about typography)
latex-l (about LaTeX3)
nts-l (about "NTS")
ntg-context (about ConTeXt)
ntg-ppchtex (about the chemistry package)
ntg-tools (about tools around TeX)
ntg-toekomst (about TeX's future)
pdftex (about PDFTeX)

You can subscribe to a mailing list by sending a message to the list server, e.g., The message should contain just one line:

   subscribe tex-nl Foo Bar

where "Foo Bar" is your real name. Note that you should not end your request for subscription to, e.g., because this is the mailing list itself. In that case your request would distributed to all subscribers, which will not be appreciated.

In case the list server's email address is "majordomo" you should not supply your first and last name. Just subscribe somelist will work.

Once your request has been accepted you will receive an introductional greeting mail, explaining how to use the list.

"Usenet" or "News"

Another forum for discussions, exchanging opinions and helping each other is "News" or "Usenet".

The following newsgroups are dedicated to TeX & friends:

Discussions about TeX and LaTeX systems and macros;
Similar discussions, in German;
In French.

4TeX Support

If you have trouble installing or running 4TeX or need more information you can send e-mail to

However, don't expect an answer within the hour. We will try to help you as soon and as best as we can, but 4TeX is an "after-hours" project.

4TeX users can join the 4TeX mailing list. On this list, users can ask and answer questions regarding 4TeX. New or desired developments and features are also announced and discussed on this list.

Subscribing to this list is very easy. Send the following message to

   subscribe 4tex Foo Bar

Where 'Foo Bar' is your real name. At the moment, about 280 people from 36 countries have joined the list.

Updates and bug fixes will be available through anonymous ftp from the server

Bulletin Boards

For those who are not connected to the Internet, Bulletin Boards are a major source of software.

In the Netherlands, NTG's Bulletin Board FGBBS is dedicated to TeX and friends. Its collection of TeX related material is available to anyone who has installed a modem in his or her computer. You can call the FGBBS at +31 26 3217041. There are no additional costs and you are free to download as many files as you like. The speed at which files are transferred may not be very high, because of limitations in telephone line traffic.

File servers

To aid the archiving and retrieval of of TeX-related files, a TUG working group developed the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN). Each CTAN site has identical material, and maintains authoritative versions of its material. These collections are extensive; in particular, almost everything mentioned in this document is archived at the CTAN sites, even if not explicitly stated.

The participating hosts in the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network are: (Germany) (England) (Massachusetts, USA)

To find software at a CTAN site, use anonymous ftp to the host, and then execute the command

   quote site index SOMETHING

to search for "SOMETHING".