Do you know what is LaTeX? If no, then check Wikipedia. Are you familiar with LaTeX? If no, then TeX.SX is a nice place to find answers to a lot of questions. Now, ad rem.

LaTeX is peculiar being. There are roughly 3 states regarding its (prospective) users:

  1. Cursing, because you don’t know LaTeX, yet you have to use it (or your’re being insistently convinced to switch from your beloved Word or LibreOffice Writer).
  2. Hating, because you’re (becoming) acquainted with LaTeX and you know it’s awful.
  3. Liking, because LaTeX is your friend and its awfulness doesn’t bother you that much.

Thus, in short, LaTeX is awful. No, I really mean it. But it produces beautiful output, they say. And they’re right, but getting really good results is far from being an effortless process.

LaTeX advocates (me included) will incessantly talk how LaTeX is better than WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors. The crux of their screeds is usually one: LaTeX allows you to focus solely on the content, making your writing work more efficient. Allow me to tell you something, what I see sometimes as a LaTeX taboo. This supposedly the biggest asset is mostly a lie, benevolent and inspiring, but still a lie. We believe in these words, though!

LaTeX learning curve is quite steep (especially when compared to WYSIWYG editors). Even writing the simplest document requires you to grasp lots of basics. Once you’re there, you have to write a more complex document, so you must learn much more. After a few or dozens of such documents, you feel that you’re becoming familiar with LaTeX. Yet magically, practically every document you write needs learning new things, packages, options, workarounds… Time goes by and after 5 years you ask yourself: what you know about LaTeX? After another 5 years the answer is the same: apparently not much.

Be aware of one crucial thing. The more you are devoted to LaTeX, the more it devours you. It’s no longer about the content only. Well, it never was. You’re taking part in an endless fiddle to make your every paper better than the previous one, to make every page more beautiful than the last ones, to spend another bunch of hours to fix or improve something that your average readers (presumably 99%) surely won’t even notice (just like you, year ago), and the rest maybe will, but only subconsciously at best. Typography is about aesthetics and beauty. It is all about perfectionism.

The bottom line is that LaTeX turns you into an awful person, and only friends will be able to bear with you then.


You don’t believe me? Fine, prove me wrong! :)

Check also the comments on Hacker News