Advanced LaTeX Topics

Context: This lesson plan is from a weekly communication recitation that accompanies M.I.T.’s Real Analysis. This week students learn about power series and the fundamental theorem of algebra (Rudin pp. 83-86).

Authors: This recitation was developed by Joel B. Lewis, Craig Desjardins, Todd Kemp, Mia Minnes, Mohammed Abouzaid, Peter Speh, Kyle Ormsby, and Susan Ruff.

Communication objectives: Be aware of the tools available for placing LaTeXed labels on figures, using LaTeX to create slides, managing bibliographies. Be aware of the challenges of giving slide presentations vs chalk talks.


Kyle Ormsby created a beamer slide presentation on

  • creating beamer files,
  • using beamer presentations effectively,
  • graphics in LaTeX (especially via ipe),
  • and BibTeX.

In other semesters, some instructors have

  • provided a bit more detail about topics above,
  • introduced LyX,
  • and/or have given LaTeX tips such as debugging code by commenting out lines.

Logistics This recitation typically includes time for students to play with adding LaTeX labels to figures.

  • Using a computer classroom requires scheduling one at the beginning of the term, checking that it contains the necessary software, and telling students where to go.
  • Having students bring their own laptops to class requires a pre-assignment: students should load all software before recitation, check that it works, and submit a simple graphic to you to demonstrate that they’ve done so. Our department has a few loaner laptops, so we bring one to class with software pre-loaded in case a student can’t bring a laptop.

Assignment This assignment is to create a beamer presentation containing an ipe graphic explaining the Intermediate Value Theorem. (When this recitation was given on the last day of class, there was no assignment.)

Instructor Observations

Although this recitation occurred on the last day of class in Fall 2009, more recently it is offered earlier in the term and the final day is devoted to student feedback.

Kyle Ormsby suggests that, rather than choosing one program for all students to learn for adding LaTeX labels to figures, we should introduce the students to the variety of available ways to add LaTeX labels to figures and let them choose which they’d like to learn/use.

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CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike)

What is Math Comm

MAA Mathematical Communication ( is a developing collection of resources for engaging students in writing and speaking about mathematics. The site originated in the MIT Department of Mathematics and was expanded through support from an NSF grant.