Thursday, March 5, 2009

TeXgefühl

TeXgefühl: [...] My colleague Jean-Paul Allouche introduced me to another some time ago: Sprachgefühl. Literally, "language feeling", this word refers to a native speaker's intuitive understanding of the subtleties of his own language. [...] Based on this, I've coined a new word: TeXgefühl. This means "the intuitive understanding of what is proper usage in the mathematical typesetting language TeX". (There is also the related word, LateXgefühl.) [...] Both TeX and LaTeX have some subtleties which beginners find difficult to master. These include constructs that improve the appearance of the manuscript, like knowing to put "\ " after any lower-case letter followed by a period that does not end a sentence, as in "Dr.\ Smith"; if you don't do this, tex inserts too much space between "Dr." and "Smith". Another example of TeXgefühl is knowing to use the proper kind of dots in a mathematical expression -- you should write "x_1,   x_2,   \ldots,   x_n" but "x_1   x_2   \cdots   x_n". (Via Recursivity.)

I'm not sure that I can pronounce the word, but we do need the concept. I'm not so sure that we can successfully teach it, though, to judge from TeX infelicities apparent in most computer science papers I read.

2 comments:

jb said...

The best book on this topic by far is "More Math Into Latex", 4th edition, by Graetzer.

Brian Roark said...

presubscriptivist!