LyX - A mighty document processor


Updated: December 1, 2008

If you want to create book-quality articles with very little effort, increase your efficiency while working with documents by several orders of magnitude, easily create tables of contents, references or bibliography, this can mean only one thing:

You want to work with LaTeX. And for LaTeX, there's no better frontend than LyX. Lyx is an extremely powerful document processor, which allows you to create professional looking documents quickly, easily, with no worries about the style and layout. If you're wondering what "professional looking" means, you're welcome to take a look at the book part I have recently published on my website, Apache Web server - Complete guide.

We have already discussed the numerous merits of both separating content from style and using the LaTeX markup language for document preparation. Please see LateX - The way documents are meant to be written for a detailed demonstration.

LyX brings about a fresh air of good looks and usability to the LaTeX world. It is a front-end much like others, however it is far more powerful than any other I have seen and used. Furthermore, the Windows support also exceeds any other package that I know of. Considering that so many people are agonizing themselves trying to create "nice" documents in classic word processors, LyX can be a promising relief from pain and inefficiency. Last but not the least, installing LyX is a very simple thing, both in Windows and Linux.

Windows

If you downloaded the bundled package, you get everything. All you need to do is follow through the install wizard. After a few moments, you will have a beautiful document processor up and running.

Lyx in Windows

Linux

The Linux installation comes only with the basic LyX files. This means you will have to manually download many other packages to obtain the full, extended functions. But even this task is a breeze.

Here's a list of packages you will have to download. Mind, all of them can be found in repositories of popular distros, meaning you will not have to much about the Internet. Simply power up the package manager (like Synaptic), search for the packages and download them.

For example, using APT:

sudo apt-get install lyx lyx-common groff imagemagick libtff-tools mime-support tetex-bin tetex-extra gnuhtml2latex aspell aspell-en lpr kghostview linuxdoc-tools linuxdoc-latex linuxdoc-text rcs rcs-latex sgmltools-lite (tex4ht hevea tth) latex2html wv

Please note the list of packages also includes a spell-checker (aspell) and that I have chosen the English dictionary (aspell-en). You may want something else.

After that, you can launch Lyx and start working.

LyX in Ubuntu

Working with LyX is a great fun. It may look a little strange in the beginning, but once you start using it, you'll ask yourselves how you could have missed it all these years. Your productivity will soar - to say nothing of extremely elegant and good-looking documents that you'll be writing.

Lyx writing a document

And the final product might look like this (a random screenshot from my Apache guide):

LyX PDF article in Evince (Ubuntu)

Or perhaps like this:

Lyx PDF article in Foxit Reader (Windows)

You will have automatically generated links to all chapter and sub-chapter headings and automating numbering. Generating tables of content, lists of figures or bibliography takes the whole of three mouse clicks each. Then, you can easily select between existing, international standards for document layout (article, book, report etc), without ever touching your content.

And converting to either PDF, PostScript (PS), DVI or any other of many supported formats is just one click of a button. If you're interested, you can find more information at Lyx homepage.

Conclusion

If you're looking into impressing your colleagues, you boss - even yourself, I can think of no simpler or easier way. Grab this fabulous piece of software, start typing and that's it. You'll have superbly laid out documents ready in seconds. Just try it. You won't be disappointed.

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