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
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
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
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
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
45066 Orleans cedex 2
tel: 33 2 38 64 09 94
discussion list firstname.lastname@example.org
- CSTUG (Czech and Slovak Republics)
Petr Sojka, President
Eeskoslovenske sdru?ení u?ivatelu TeX u
CsTUG, c/o FI MU
CZ-602 00 Brno
WWW page: www.cstug.cz
journal: Zpravodaj CSTUG
- CyrTUG (Russia)
Irina Makhovaya, Executive Director
Associaciia Pol'zovatelei Kirillicheskogo TeX'a
2, Pervyi Rizhskii Pereulok
tel: +7 95 286 0622, 286-1777
fax: +7 95 288 9522
WWW page: www.cemi.rssi.ru/cyrtug/
- Dante e.V. (German-speaking)
Thomas Koch, President
Deutschsprachige Anwendervereinigung TeX e.V.
tel: +49 6221 29766
fax: +49 6221 167906
WWW page: www.dante.de
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: obelix.ee.duth.gr/eft/
- GUST (Poland)
Tomasz Przechlewski (President)
Polska Grupa Ulytkowników Systemu TeX
Instytut Matematyki Uniwersytetu Gdanskiego
ul. Wita Stwosza 57
80 - 952 Gdansk
WWW page: www.gust.org.pl
journal: GUST Bulletin
- GUTenberg (French-speaking)
Michel Goossens, President
Groupe francophone des Utilisateurs de TeX
F-93220 Gagny principal
tel: +33 1 44 32 37 96
fax: +33 1 44 32 20 80
WWW page: www.ens.fr/gut/
journal: Les Cahier GUTenberg
- GUTH (Grupo de Usuarios de TeX Hispanoparlantes)
No formal user group yet.
Public mailing list: email@example.com
(Send subscription requests to this list).
Isaac Newton 11
PTM Tres Cantos
WWW page: gordo.us.es/Actividades/GUTH/
- ITALIC (Irish)
No formal user group yet.
Public mailing list: ITALIC-L@irlearn.ucd.ie
(send subscription requests to firstname.lastname@example.org).
- iTeXnici (Italian)
(Unofficial) Italian TeX Users Group
- Lithuanian TeX Users Group
Vytas Statulevicius, Chair
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
tel: +47 22 85 24 50
fax: +47 22 85 24 01
WWW page: www.ifi.uio.no/~dag/ntug/
- NTG (Dutch-speaking)
Erik Frambach, Chair
Nederlandstalige TeX Gebruikersgroep
NL-1740 AJ Schagen
WWW page: www.ntg.nl
- TeXCeH (Slovenian TeX User Group)
- Tirant lo TeX (Grup d'usuaris catalanoparlants de TeX)
No formal user group yet.
Mailing list: email@example.com
WWW page: www-lsi.upc.es/~valiente/tug-catalan.html
- 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: www.tug.org
- 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
1 Eymore Close
Birmingham B29 4LB
WWW page: www.tex.ac.uk/UKTUG/
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
firstname.lastname@example.org (about 4TeX)
email@example.com (about literate programming)
firstname.lastname@example.org (about typography)
email@example.com (about LaTeX3)
firstname.lastname@example.org (about "NTS")
email@example.com (about ConTeXt)
firstname.lastname@example.org (about the chemistry package)
email@example.com (about tools around TeX)
firstname.lastname@example.org (about TeX's future)
email@example.com (about PDFTeX)
You can subscribe to a mailing list by sending a message to the list
server, e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org
The message should contain just
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., email@example.com
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;
If you have trouble installing or running 4TeX or need more information you can
send e-mail to 4TeXfirstname.lastname@example.org
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
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 ftp://4tex.ntg.nl/.
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
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:
- ftp.dante.de (Germany)
- anonymous ftp, directory /tex-archive (/pub/tex /pub/archive)
- e-mail via email@example.com
- World Wide Web access on www.dante.de
- Administrator: firstname.lastname@example.org
- ftp.tex.ac.uk (England)
- ctan.tug.org (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".