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Latest news 2019-11-04: The giveaway of two signed copies of “Quack, quack, quack. Give my hat back!” has closed and the winning entrants have been selected. Thank you to everyone who took part.


1.1 Class and Package Documentation

There are hundreds of classes and packages available on the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN). These are made available by many volunteers. Some provide detailed documentation to accompany their contribution, while others only provide a few notes in a README file or comments in the source files. This book only provides an introductory look at a small selection of these contributions. If you want further details on how to use a particular class or package you should check the documentation that accompanies it. You can use the texdoc application to search for the documentation. This is a command line application, which means you need a terminal or command prompt (see §2.5. Terminal or Command Prompt).

To use texdoc, you need to type (at the command prompt) texdoc followed by a space followed by the name of the class or package you want information about. For example, to read the memoir documentation, type the following at the command prompt (press the return/enter key return key symbol at the end of the line):

texdoc memoir
Some packages come with more than one set of documentation. For example, the glossaries package comes with the main user manual, a short guide for beginners and the documented code for advanced users. Just doing
texdoc glossaries
will display the advanced documented code. To list all available documentation for a package, use the -l option:
texdoc -l glossaries
Then type the number corresponding to the file you want to view. If you can remember the file name (for example glossaries-user) you can type that next time you want to view it:
texdoc glossaries-user
There is also a Perl/Tk-based graphical user interface (GUI) called texdoctk, which is distributed with TeX Live, that you can use instead of texdoc if you can't work out how to use a terminal or prefer a GUI approach.

Failing that, you can also check on CTAN using the URL ctan.org/pkg/<name>, where <name> is the name of the package or class. For example, if you want to look up the documentation for the memoir package, you can find it at http://ctan.org/pkg/memoir or go to http://mirror.ctan.org/ and search for the package or class.

Another alternative recently made available is to use the URL texdoc.net/pkg/<name>. For example, http://texdoc.net/pkg/memoir will fetch the documentation for the memoir class.

However, it's better to use texdoc or texdoctk to read the documentation installed with the class or package on your computer to ensure it matches the installed class or package version.

Note that it is important to remember that the TeX world is mostly supported by volunteers. CTAN itself is maintained by a very small group (currently two people). It's not like a commercial company with 24/7 support and hundreds of paid employees constantly updating the software. At its core, TeX is a community effort. While some volunteers actively maintain and update their classes or packages, some people move on to other things and stop maintaining their work. Occasionally, if the class or package is popular, someone else might take over maintenance. There is no dedicated helpdesk to go to, but there are many ways of getting help, see Appendix C. Need More Help?


This book is also available as A4 PDF or 12.8cm x 9.6cm PDF or paperback (ISBN 978-1-909440-00-5).

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