Learn about TeX, LaTeX, and Tectonic

Tectonic is just one piece of the huge and venerable TeX/LaTeX ecosystem. There’s a lot to learn!

We have begun work on The Tectonic Book, which we hope will one day serve as the definitive Tectonic manual and reference. It is currently quite sparse — requests for content are welcome!

While we work on the book, here are some topics to get you started.

To learn about ways you can contribute to the Tectonic community, mosey on over to the Contribute page.

If you need help, try the Tectonic forum site. You can search prior discussions for help and post a new topic if no one seems to have run into your particular problem before.

How to write LaTeX documents

If you’re just getting started as a TeX/LaTeX user, there are literally hundreds of LaTeX tutorials out there. Try the LaTeX wikibook, which is freely available and is continually modified and improved. But if that doesn’t do the trick for you, just use your favorite search engine and explore.

The Tectonic authors have to admit that it’s been a long, long time since they’ve needed a LaTeX tutorial, so they’re not sure what the best resources are. Please pipe up on the relevant forum thread if you’ve got any suggestions!

If you’re a more experienced user, the TeX/LaTeX StackExchange site is an excellent resource, with frequent contributions from the architects of LaTeX themselves. But we’re more than happy to answer LaTeX questions on the Tectonic forum too.

The TeX programming language

TeX is a full-fledged computer programming language. You can write documents without knowing its details, but you can achieve some very powerful effects if you learn them.

The canonical reference is The TeXbook, written by the creator of TeX himself, Donald Knuth. You can find it on Amazon and probably at your local library too. Please be warned, though, that various parts of The TeXbook are not applicable to Tectonic because it inherits numerous extensions to the traditional TeX language provided by e-TeX, pdftex, and XeTeX.

Also please know that many people find The TeXbook to be extremely unhelpful. You can tell that it’s written by a mathematician, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, we’re not aware of any alternatives that explain the language in any comparable detail.

Once again, if you’re a more experienced user, the TeX/LaTeX StackExchange site is an excellent resource, and the Tectonic forum is a great place to ask questions too.

The Tectonic program

One day, this section will have a link to a nice manual for the Tectonic program. Unfortunately, we haven’t written it yet.

In the meantime, the Tectonic forum is the place to go: there are discussions that document some aspects of how the Tectonic program works, and of course you can ask any questions that you might have.