Word processors are great, but they’re also pretty simple. They’re fine for writing letters or essays, but they’re not for complex documents – they’re just not designed for it. LaTeX, a document preparation system used by scientists and mathematicians, aims to get around the problem.
Rather than relying on software to format your document, LaTeX markup is used, giving you the opportunity to introduce elements like complicated mathematical equations. You could do this in a plain, old text editor like Vim or, if you’d prefer to see your LaTeX formatting appear as you write, a LaTeX editor.
Here are five of the best LaTeX editors you could use if you’re a Linux user.
If you’re a GNOME fan using a Linux distribution like Ubuntu or Debian, you should consider TeXmaker. It’s one of the most professional and best-known LaTeX editors available on Linux.
It has a number of features designed to make the LaTeX design experience more satisfying for users. These include features like spellcheck and keyboard triggers, as well as support for eighteen languages. If you want to switch from your Linux PC to your Macbook, you’ll be able to, thanks to cross-platform support.
You can also preview documents as you go, thanks to a PDF document viewer built into the program.
Looking for a LaTex editing tool that looks a lot like your favorite text editor? LyX might be the choice for you. Its simple and familiar design makes LaTeX document creation easy, where the structure of your document takes priority.
You set the rules for your document, thanks to LyX’s auto-formatting tools. If you have regular triggers (like certain keywords or titles), you can set LyX to automatically format these for you. It also comes with a useful beginners tutorial and extensive manual to help you get up to speed.
It’s one of the oldest and longest supported LaTeX editors around, having been in use since 1995.
There’s nothing quite like a simple IDE, where everything from your code to your output logs can be seen in one window. With Kile, that’s exactly what you get.
Everything has been designed to make your LaTeX document creation simple, but it’s far from basic. You can create templates for documents, easily insert images, have LaTeX commands auto-complete for time-saving, as well as integrate your document into BibTeX, a major tool for academic referencing.
You’re also able to preview your work as you go, with a prominent button on the main toolbar allowing you to view your document as a PDF.
TeXmaker fans will find using TeXstudio a very familiar experience. TeXstudio was originally forked from the TeXmaker code back in 2009 to help introduce many new features while keeping the same interface.
That’s exactly what TeXstudio offers, with a template system and integrated assistance for inserting images and formulas, as well as some of the more usual features like a PDF previewing tool. You also have syntax highlighting (one of the “new” first features introduced) to help you keep track of your LaTeX formatting as you go.
If you like TeXmaker but are looking for a fine-tuned LaTeX experience, TeXstudio will better suit you, thanks to a wider set of options to customize the UI and automation tools.
The simple approach is sometimes the best. That’s the approach the developers of Gummi seemed to have in mind when they created this beginner-friendly LaTeX editor.
You get two side-by-side screens with Gummi, one for typing your LaTeX code, the other to view it as you work – no extra effort needed. Live previews are Gummi’s standout feature, especially if you’re looking for a basic editor that lets you see the results of your work in real-time without needing to generate the preview yourself.
Unlike some of the more advanced editors, Gummi doesn’t overload you with features, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking. You have options for template creation and for syntax highlighting, as well as support for project management.
LaTeX on Linux: A Match Well Made
These Linux LaTeX editors give you plenty of choice when it comes to creating academic documents, whatever your experience. If you’d rather use the same editor on any platform, you could always give an online editor like Overleaf a try.
Do you have your own favorite LaTeX editor you like to use? Let us know which one you think is best in the comments below.