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Despite the generic title, this page actually discusses typesetting with LaTeX. It is rather more difficult to get anywhere near LaTeX's standards of quality with any other package, especially when it comes to mathematical or technical documents, so we strongly recommend it for your thesis.
The first part of a working LaTeX environment is a TeX distribution. Depending on your operating system, we recommend the following:
Yes, TeX is that big. Most of it is actually font data. You can in some cases get a stripped down distribution that omits some packages and fonts.
The second part is a good editor. While any text editor will do, you should find one that has special LaTeX support, such as syntax highlighting and macro completion. The choice again depends on your OS.
We recommend that you use our thesis template. It supplies most of the basic structure required for a thesis, includes a lot of comments about the packages used and should get you started very quickly.
Finally, you'll have to learn the language. Tobias Oetiker et al., The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX, is a good starting point. Next, since you'll presumably use a lot of math, read the AMS documentation which describes some of the most used equation layouts. The AMS packages are always distributed with LaTeX.
Between these two, you should be able to start writing your thesis. The following documents will prove useful as you proceed:
These may not have a direct relevance to your thesis, but it still good to know about them.
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