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The following are some downloads that are important to start to start writing in TeX.

If you are using a Windows machine, you can download and install the following two programs (MiKTeX and TeXnicCenter, in that order) to get started with LaTeX. These programs are free, and are not produced or distributed by AoPS Incorporated.

Note: These are not the only ways to install and use LaTeX on your computer. The TeX Users Group has a list of other LaTeX programs, including programs for Mac and Linux computers.


MiKTeX is the engine that does the typsetting work.

Note: The MiKTeX download is a large file, about 90 MB. If you have a slow internet connection, you may prefer to buy a MiKTeX CD rather than downloading it for free.

To download and install MiKTeX, do the following:

  1. Click here to open the MiKTeX download site. For Mac users, you will need MacTex which can be found here.
  2. Download the basic MiKTeX system by clicking on the link that says Download "Basic MiKTeX" Installer. (This link is listed under the heading "Installing a basic system"). Clicking on that link will open a Download page. Find the 'Location' that's nearest you, then click on the 'Download' link corresponding to that location. A 'File Download' window will probably pop up after a few seconds - choose to save the file. Pay attention to where you save the file. It doesn't matter where you save it, but you will have to find it later.
  3. After the MiKTeX system download has finished, find the downloaded file, and double-click on it to launch the installer. Follow the directions in the installer. Some things to watch out for while installing:
    1. When it asks you for the directory in which to install the files, we recommend leaving the default C:\Program Files\MiKTeX 2.9, but if you choose to change it, make note of where you change it to: you will need this information when installing TeXnicCenter. Note: Some versions of Windows will use C:\Program Files (x86)\MiKTeX 2.9 as the installation folder. Pay attention to what folder MiKTeX installs to!
    2. It will ask you your "preferred paper size". North American users will probably want "Letter"; most users elsewhere in the world will want "A4".
    3. When it asks "Download packages on the fly", if you choose "Ask me first", beware that this may cause bugs later. In the future, if you compile a LaTeX file and it reports producing 0 pages or that a "GUI framework cannot be initialized", know that this is because a package has not been installed. To fix this, either install the missing package yourself or change this setting to "Yes" instead of "Ask me first".

At this point, MiKTeX should be installed on your computer.


TeXnicCenter is a visual interface and editor for producing LaTeX documents. It is not a "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) editor, meaning your code doesn't immediately become nice math images as you type. However, it does include an easy-to-use interface for finding symbol commands, and its text editor is custom-designed to help you avoid syntax errors. To install TeXnicCenter:

  1. Click here to open the TeXnicCenter download site. (Right click on the link and open it in a new window.)
  2. Click on "Downloads" on the top of the page.
  3. Click on the link "TeXnicCenter Installer".
  4. Once the download is finished, run the program that you just downloaded. We recommend accepting the default options, except that you may wish to add a desktop shortcut icon when you are asked.
  5. If you elected to have a shortcut on the desktop, just click the icon on the desktop. Otherwise, click Start on the main Windows window, then 'All Programs', then 'TeXnicCenter', then choose the TeXnicCenter option.
  6. When the program starts, a Tips window will open. Click Close. The program will then walk you through the configuration wizard:
    When it asks you for the "full path of the directory where the executables" are located, type C:\Program Files\MiKTeX 2.9\miktex\bin (Note: if you changed the default location when installing MiKTeX, then you'll need to replace C:\Program Files\MiKTeX 2.8 with the directory to which you installed MiKTeX. Your computer may also have used C:\Program Files (x86)\MiKTeX 2.9 as the installation folder, in which case you'll instead have to type C:\Program Files (x86)\MiKTeX 2.9\miktex\bin as the directory for the executables.)
    If it asks you to pick a PostScript viewer, you may just leave everything blank and just click "Next". Similarly if it asks you to pick a DVI viewer, just leave everything blank and click "Next". (It may or may not ask you these things, depending on how your computer is configured.)

You're now ready to use LaTeX! Progress onto your First LaTeX Document

See Also

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