Request for constructive criticism: LaTeX tutorial videos for beginners

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Joe DiNoto

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Dec 7, 2011, 5:12:56 PM12/7/11
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Hello all,

I teach AP & College level math online and have been encouraging my students to use LaTeX to typeset their homework. The students are on their way toward creating professional documents (they also seem to enjoy using it!) and I avoid an inbox full of large image files with varying handwriting quality.

Here is the short playlist I created to help them get started with LaTeX:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDD406480D35CE390

The playlist is a work in progress. The goals are to keep the videos focused and succinct (~2 to 3 mins each), make the code and its output as visible as possible on the screen for following-along purposes, and have them up and running with their first document as quickly as possible.

Any feedback and/or constructive criticism you may offer would be much appreciated.

Thank you,
Joe

Marc van Dongen

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Dec 8, 2011, 11:07:31 AM12/8/11
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On Dec 7, 10:12 pm, Joe DiNoto <mathteacher1...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Hello all,
>
> I teach AP & College level math online and have been encouraging my students to use LaTeX to typeset their homework.  The students are on their way toward creating professional documents (they also seem to enjoy using it!) and I avoid an inbox full of large image files with varying handwriting quality.
>
> Here is the short playlist I created to help them get started with LaTeX:
>
> http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDD406480D35CE390
>
> [ work in progress, feedback needed ]

Hi Joe,


I had look at a few of them and it looks like a nice initiative.
The only problem is that I don't have sound on my computer (!),
so I couldn't follow the explanation.....

In one of the tutorials I noticed an ordinary math expression
that was followed by a newline (\\), which is probably OK for
an example, but it may also encourage wrong LaTeX habits.

Regards,


Marc van Dongen

Denis Bitouzé

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Dec 8, 2011, 12:35:28 PM12/8/11
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Le jeudi 08/12/11 à 08h07,
Marc van Dongen <don...@cs.ucc.ie> a écrit :

> I had look at a few of them and it looks like a nice initiative.

I plenty agree with Marc!

> The only problem is that I don't have sound on my computer (!),
> so I couldn't follow the explanation.....

I could follow it :)

> In one of the tutorials I noticed an ordinary math expression
> that was followed by a newline (\\), which is probably OK for
> an example, but it may also encourage wrong LaTeX habits.

As Marc, I discourage this way of doing: it is better to start a new
paragraph (with an empty line) or to use displayed equations (some
comments about them later).

Another remarks (IMHO):

1. (Tutorial 01) Spaces in files names or in directory names should be
avoided, otherwise some obscure problems could happen when including
slave files.

2. (Tutorial 04) Package amsmath could (and should) be replaced by
mathtools: the latter is a superset and patches some deficiencies of
the former.

3. (Tutorial 08) $$...$$ should be avoided for "centered" (rather
'displayed') equations, see page 6 of
http://mirrors.ctan.org/info/l2tabu/english/l2tabuen.pdf. With the
right syntax (\[...\]), the displayed equations could be not centered
but all typeset with the same indentation (just use fleqn option in
\documentclass.

4. (Tutorial 10) PNG (bitmap) image format should be replaced by PDF
(vectorial) image format whenever possible (no pixelation when
zooming). Moreover, extension files (.png in the video) can be
and should be avoided (this makes easier the maintenance in case of
LaTeX/PDFLaTeX compilations and both .eps/.pdf files available).
Rather than centering figures, let them float could be a better
option.

5. (Tutorial 12) Instead of (\ref{foo}), you could use \eqref{foo}.
This also makes easier the maintenance if you want to change the
tag form (mathtools feature):

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{mathtools,amssymb}
\newtagform{brackets}{[}{]}
\usetagform{brackets}
\begin{document}
\begin{align}
x&=3\label{foo}\\
x&=4\label{bar}
\end{align}
Equation~\eqref{foo}.
\end{document}

6. You're are a writing very fast! So maybe Texworks is okay for you
but I prefer LaTeX IDEs where most used commands may be written (and,
above all, remembered!) by the editor. A nice LaTeX IDE is TeXstudio:

http://texstudio.sourceforge.net/

7. Could you tell me the software you use to make your videos?

Once again, thanks a lot for your very nice initiative!
--
Denis

Giacomo Boffi

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Dec 8, 2011, 6:31:43 PM12/8/11
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Denis Bitouzé <dbito...@spam.wanadoo.fr> writes:

> 2. Package amsmath could (and should) be replaced by mathtools:
> the latter is a superset and patches some deficiencies of the
> former.

i knew of mathtools, but i never thought of it as a replacement for
amsmath...

do you mean that i can altogether replace \usepackage{amsmath} with a
\usepackage{mathtools}, with only gains and no losses?

tx
g
--
UN CADAVERE NEL PIATTO! -- Elena, in IFQ

Philipp Stephani

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Dec 8, 2011, 8:38:48 PM12/8/11
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Giacomo Boffi <giacom...@polimi.it> writes:

> Denis Bitouzé <dbito...@spam.wanadoo.fr> writes:
>
>> 2. Package amsmath could (and should) be replaced by mathtools:
>> the latter is a superset and patches some deficiencies of the
>> former.
>
> i knew of mathtools, but i never thought of it as a replacement for
> amsmath...

mathtools provides some additions to amsmath, it is absolutely no
replacement for it. If you don't need these additions, don't load
mathtools.

> do you mean that i can altogether replace \usepackage{amsmath} with a
> \usepackage{mathtools}, with only gains and no losses?

In principle yes, because mathtools loads amsmath. In practice, you
should load as few packages as possible to reduce the risk of maleficial
interactions; i.e., if you don't need mathtools, don't load it (same
goes for every other package).

--
Change “LookInSig” to “tcalveu” to answer by mail.

Denis Bitouzé

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Dec 9, 2011, 4:00:46 AM12/9/11
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Le vendredi 09/12/11 à 02h38,
Philipp Stephani <Look...@arcor.de> a écrit :

> mathtools provides some additions to amsmath, it is absolutely no
> replacement for it. If you don't need these additions, don't load
> mathtools.

Here is the mathtools' abstract:

"The mathtools package is an extension package to amsmath. There are
two things on mathtools' agenda: 1) correct various bugs/defeciencies
in amsmath until these are fixed by the AMS and 2) provide useful
tools for mathematical typesetting, be it a small macro for
typesetting a prescript or an underbraket, or entirely new display
math constructs such as a multlined environment."

The amsmath's bugs and deficiencies are detailed in the documentation.
So even if you don't need these additions, I would advise to load
mathtools.

> > do you mean that i can altogether replace \usepackage{amsmath} with
> > a \usepackage{mathtools}, with only gains and no losses?
>
> In principle yes, because mathtools loads amsmath. In practice, you
> should load as few packages as possible to reduce the risk of
> maleficial interactions; i.e., if you don't need mathtools, don't
> load it (same goes for every other package).

Clearly, mathtools has been designed to perfectly interact with amsmath
so the the risk of maleficial interactions is here of probability zero.
--
Denis

Lars Madsen

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Dec 9, 2011, 4:10:56 AM12/9/11
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I would not say 'perfectly interact', there are features in mathtools
that actually break things in amsmath, e.g. showonlyrefs, which as far
as I can see can only be fixed by rewriting several parts of amsmath.



--

/daleif (remove RTFSIGNATURE from email address)

Memoir and mh bundle maintainer
LaTeX FAQ: http://www.tex.ac.uk/faq
LaTeX book: http://www.imf.au.dk/system/latex/bog/ (in Danish)
Remember to post minimal examples, see URL below
http://www.minimalbeispiel.de/mini-en.html

Denis Bouyssou

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Dec 9, 2011, 11:25:46 AM12/9/11
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Quite nicely done. Just two additonal comments to the ones already
made.
a) In lecture 02, I would tend to introduce \emph and not just
\textit.
I very rarely use \textit but use \emph quite often. Italic correction
comes with \emph.
b) In lecture 09 (Tables) the -1 in the table is not in math mode.
Consequently the minus sign is not correct is the table.
Maybe, it is also worth telling how you can put a whole column in
math mode using the array package
saying, e.g., >{$}c<{$}
Denis

Lars Madsen

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Dec 9, 2011, 11:31:07 AM12/9/11
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Denis Bouyssou wrote, On 2011-12-09 17:25:
> Quite nicely done. Just two additonal comments to the ones already
> made.
> a) In lecture 02, I would tend to introduce \emph and not just
> \textit.
> I very rarely use \textit but use \emph quite often. Italic correction
> comes with \emph.

I agree, people should be using \emph not \textit (italic correction
also some with \textit)

(I have not seen the videos)

> b) In lecture 09 (Tables) the -1 in the table is not in math mode.
> Consequently the minus sign is not correct is the table.
> Maybe, it is also worth telling how you can put a whole column in
> math mode using the array package
> saying, e.g., >{$}c<{$}
> Denis

or perhaps tell them how to use siunitx to format tables.

Denis Bitouzé

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Dec 9, 2011, 2:44:47 PM12/9/11
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Le vendredi 09/12/11 à 10h10,
Lars Madsen <dal...@RTFMSIGNATUREimf.au.dk> a écrit :

> I would not say 'perfectly interact', there are features in mathtools
> that actually break things in amsmath, e.g. showonlyrefs, which as
> far as I can see can only be fixed by rewriting several parts of
> amsmath.

Yes, you're right.

Nevertheless, showonlyrefs is a very special mathtools' feature that
'normal' amsmath users won't use. If, someday, they want to use it,
they won't be beginners anymore and will be able to read and understand
the warning about it in the mathtools' documentation. Meanwhile,
'normal' amsmath users will transparently benefit from the mathtools'
corrections of amsmath :)
--
Denis

Peter Flynn

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Dec 9, 2011, 5:32:28 PM12/9/11
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On 08/12/11 17:35, Denis Bitouz wrote:
> 1. (Tutorial 01) Spaces in files names or in directory names should
> be avoided, otherwise some obscure problems could happen when
> including slave files.

This cannot be repeated too often. Spaces and other bogus characters in
filenames MUST be avoided, otherwise the files risk becoming non-portable.

> 4. (Tutorial 10) PNG (bitmap) image format should be replaced by PDF
> (vectorial) image format whenever possible (no pixelation when
> zooming).

Ditto. NEVER use bitmaps except for scans and photographs. There are
plenty of excellent drawing packages providing vector files (eg Inkscape).

///Peter

Philipp Stephani

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Dec 9, 2011, 6:33:06 PM12/9/11
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I've only watched the first one so far, looks very good to me, except
for two points:
- I think you're saying "LaTeX" several times when in fact you're
talking about TeXworks (e.g., the vertical split feature).
- Why do you load the three packages at all? In the first example, you
don't make any use of them. Especially beginners like to clutter
their preambles with dozens of unnecessary packages; I think you
should try to avoid leading your students in that direction. Just
load the packages you need and nothing else.

Philipp Stephani

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Dec 9, 2011, 6:36:17 PM12/9/11
to
Denis Bitouzé <dbito...@spam.wanadoo.fr> writes:

> 1. (Tutorial 01) Spaces in files names or in directory names should be
> avoided, otherwise some obscure problems could happen when including
> slave files.

This is true for the file names that are used in the document since
LaTeX doesn't accept spaces in several places (e.g., \usepackage). On
the other hand, spaces in parent directories are never a problem (as
long as you don't use absolute paths inside the document).

Denis Bitouzé

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Dec 10, 2011, 4:03:29 AM12/10/11
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Le vendredi 09/12/11 à 22h32,
Peter Flynn <pe...@silmaril.ie> a écrit :

> > 4. (Tutorial 10) PNG (bitmap) image format should be replaced by PDF
> > (vectorial) image format whenever possible (no pixelation when
> > zooming).
>
> Ditto. NEVER use bitmaps except for scans and photographs. There are
> plenty of excellent drawing packages providing vector files (eg
> Inkscape).

Yes but the user is not always the creator of the image.

And, also, it is not always a matter of drawing: sometimes the images
are produced by other softwares. But I agree with you, if the user is
the creator of the image with such a third party software, he shoul^W
MUST ;) ask it to provide vector files (often just by choosing the right
extension when saving the file: .pdf or .eps rather than .png or .jpeg).
--
Denis

Lee Rudolph

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Dec 10, 2011, 7:24:42 AM12/10/11
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Denis =?ISO-8859-15?B?Qml0b3V66Q==?= <dbito...@spam.wanadoo.fr> writes:

>Le vendredi 09/12/11 =E0 22h32,
>Peter Flynn <pe...@silmaril.ie> a =E9crit :
...
>> Ditto. NEVER use bitmaps except for scans and photographs. There are
>> plenty of excellent drawing packages providing vector files (eg
>> Inkscape).
>
>Yes but the user is not always the creator of the image.
>
>And, also, it is not always a matter of drawing: sometimes the images
>are produced by other softwares.

And sometimes, as I know to my sorrow, they are produced (starting
from bitmaps) by co-authors who have good drawing programs and
have learned how to use them. (On the other hand, another of my
co-authors simply writes raw PostScript, directly...)

Lee Rudolph

Giacomo Boffi

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Dec 10, 2011, 9:07:35 AM12/10/11
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Philipp Stephani <Look...@arcor.de> writes:

> Giacomo Boffi <giacom...@polimi.it> writes:
>
>> Denis Bitouzé <dbito...@spam.wanadoo.fr> writes:
>>
>>> 2. Package amsmath could (and should) be replaced by mathtools:
>>> the latter is a superset and patches some deficiencies of the
>>> former.
>>
>> i knew of mathtools, but i never thought of it as a replacement for
>> amsmath...
>
> mathtools provides some additions to amsmath, it is absolutely no
> replacement for it. If you don't need these additions, don't load
> mathtools.

thank you, i'll continue to use mathtools only when i strictly need it

ciao
g
--
per crimini come l'umanita'. -- MMAX, in IPI+IHC

Karl Ove Hufthammer

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Dec 10, 2011, 9:26:49 AM12/10/11
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Giacomo Boffi skreiv:

>> mathtools provides some additions to amsmath, it is absolutely no
>> replacement for it. If you don't need these additions, don't load
>> mathtools.
>
> thank you, i'll continue to use mathtools only when i strictly need it

I recommend you *always* load ‘mathtools’ anyway, as it fixes two bugs in
‘amsmath’.

--
Karl Ove Hufthammer
E-post/Jabber: ka...@huftis.org

Joe DiNoto

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Dec 13, 2011, 12:14:24 PM12/13/11
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Thank you to everyone for your encouraging feedback and helpful suggestions. I feel like I have learned a great deal about LaTeX2e this past week, and I really appreciate you taking the time to help me with this project.

Presently I don't have time to make new videos, but I hope to do some before holiday break.

Cheers, and thanks again!
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