Typesetting Tools

20 Essential LaTeX Tools – typeset beautifully (Updated 2023)

LaTeX is a document preparation system and document markup language for high-quality typesetting. The system was originally developed by Leslie Lamport in the early 1980s. LaTeX is based on Donald E. Knuth’s TeX typesetting language. Lamport says that LaTeX “represents a balance between functionality and ease of use”.

LaTeX is often used for technical or scientific documentation, particularly because it generates well formatted papers with beautifully crafted formulae, but the system can be used for any form of publishing. It employs beautifully crafted typesetting algorithms. Academic journals will often accept submission in this format.

Using the LaTeX system leads the author to concentrate on the structure of the document rather than its appearance. The author therefore focuses on what he/she wants to say, instead of fretting over page borders, font attributes, or formatting. Moreover, the author will be guided in the organization, structure, and flow within the document.

The recommended LaTeX distribution is the one that comes with TeX Live, the replacement of its counterpart teTeX. This is a general TeX distribution that is actively maintained by the TeX Users Group.

Almost any editor or wordprocessor can be used to write LaTeX documents, but many users of the system prefer to use software specially designed for LaTeX.

The purpose of this article is to identify our favorite open source software that works in conjunction with the LaTeX system. Featured in this article include excellent LaTeX editors, bibliography tools and more.

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled 20 high quality Linux tools. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wants to make their writing look great.

We make the following recommendations, captured in a legendary LinuxLinks-style chart. Only free and open source software is eligible for inclusion here.

Ratings chart for best free and open source LaTeX tools

Let’s explore the 20 tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, providing a screenshot of the software in action, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

LaTeX Tools
LyXThe power and flexibility of TeX/LaTeX with an intuitive graphical interface
KBibTeXReference management software primarily for BibTeX
TeXstudioFully featured open source LaTeX editor
TeXmacsWYSIWYG mathematical text editor using TeX fonts
JabRefGraphical frontend to manage BibTeX databases
BiberBibTeX replacement for users of BibLaTeX
TeXmakerIntegrates many different tools
TeXworksSimple front-end modeled on TeXShop
Atom-LaTeXTypesetting with GitHub's Atom text editor
SiSUDocuments - structuring, publishing in multiple formats and search
KileKDE Integrated LaTeX Environment
BibLaTexProgrammable bibliographies and citations
PybliographerTool for managing bibliographic databases
AUCTeXEnvironment for editing LaTeX, ConTeXt, docTeX, Texinfo, and TeX files
TexMathsLaTeX equation editor for LibreOffice
SetzerFull-featured LaTeX editor
GummiSimple LaTeX editor
LaTeXDrawGraphical drawing editor for LaTeX
GNOME LaTeXIntegrated LaTeX Environment for the GNOME desktop
KLatexFormulaUseful utility for creating images from LaTeX equations
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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Hamish Steele
Hamish Steele
2 years ago

LyX is superb. I use it daily as it’s the best way to quickly create math content with a fully integrated equation editor.

Rotten Apples
Rotten Apples
2 years ago
Reply to  Hamish Steele

LyX offers professional typesetting without the complexity of using LaTeX manually. LyX is definitely worth downloading.

Julian Moore
Julian Moore
1 year ago

The link to KBibTeX, another brilliant LaTeX-Tool, points to GNOME LaTeX. Is that intended?