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Getting the most out of LaTeX with LyX.

Quite some times I try to get the most out of the least possible effort. This is either because I don’t have much time to devote to everything I want to do, or other times simply because I am lazy. I like to think of myself as having the lazy-efficiency syndrome. In that respect I am always in search for tools that will help me improve my efficiency, i.e. will help me get a job done in the best possible way with the least possible effort. As a PhD student there are things that need my attention more than others so I have to devote more time to some really important stuff while only a small amount to other ‘secondary’ things. One such ‘secondary’ thing has always been in my mind. I need to learn LaTeX in order to help me produce professional looking documents in the scientific area I work. But LaTeX is not something you can learn over a night. You need to follow through tutorials, write small documents to get used to the syntax (it is after all a programming languge) and always keep yourself in touch with it (especially in the beginning) in order to not forget what you have just learned. So I didn’t learn LaTex during my MSc last year and I used OpenOffice for writing my dissertation. Now I again find myself in the same position. I want to use LaTeX for my scientific writings but if I do this now it will take a great amount of time to even write a simple document. So obviously this is not something to be done when deadlines are upon me. Searching the net revealed the optimal solution: LyX!

LyX is a document processor following the self-claimed What You See Is What You Mean (WYSIWYM) approach instead of the What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) that conventional word processors follow. With LyX you only care about the document content and LyX with the help of LaTeX takes care of the typesetting for you! It is really a great tool. With a half hour tutorial you can get started to write any kind of document without the need of learning a single LaTeX command. However your document is exactly as it would be if you used plain normal LaTeX. Through an easy to use environment you provide the content and specify some rules (easily through a simple GUI) and LyX generates a professional looking document for you. Furthermore it allows the creation of complex mathematical content as well as anything else that a professional in a scientific field may need. I am not going to go on any further about it,I just suggest that if anyone out there always wanted to get the professionalism of LaTeX but never had the time to devote to it, he/she better give LyX a try!

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