Step 2: Basics

Let’s start with two basic principles: (1) commands and symbols and (2) spacing.

Commands and Symbols

Commands are special words that determine LaTeX behavior. Commands begin with a backslash (\) and generally require the use of curly braces. Symbols also begin with a backslash (\), but do not require the use of curly braces. Think of a command as defining an environment and a symbol as invoking a particular character.

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Find a cheat sheet to many more commands and symbols in Step 3.


In a LaTeX sequence, the spacing you insert with the spacebar will be ignored and replaced with spacing that LaTeX thinks is best. This default spacing is generally fine to use, but there may be cases where you would like to adjust the spacing.

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Putting It All Together

Here is a typical sequence of LaTeX:

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