Module 1: Getting Started

Learning Goals

The learning goals for this module include:

  • Identify some online LaTeX editors.
  • Practice using basic LaTeX commands using an online editor.
  • Learn how to use outputs from online editors in electronic documents.

Before You Start

Take a moment and search online for "latex editor" and "latex equation editor." Your search will likely reveal a long and possibly confusing list of options: some LaTeX authoring tools are downloadable applications, some are web-based document preparation systems, some are online equation editors.

It is worthwhile to look a bit further into these options, but none are required to get started using LaTeX. One of the later modules will have some suggestions about using Overleaf, one of several LaTeX authoring tools available as a free cloud-based service.

Getting Started

The simple LaTeX renderer below allows you to input LaTeX commands and see the resulting displayed math. Try inputting the following statements - incorrect statements will cause the command to display as red text in the box below the input field.

  1. A polynomial.
  3. A fraction.
  5. A rational expression.
Input LaTeX:

Let's try a couple more, using the editor above.

  1. A summation.
        \sum_{i=1}^n{i} = \frac{n(n+1)}{2}
  3. A trigonometric identity.
        \sin^2(x) +\cos^2(x) = 1

Better Editors

The simple editor above is an example of a LaTeX equation editor - it cannot be used to create full LaTeX documents, only to render small snippets of LaTeX code.

LaTeX equation editors, although limited, are still very useful, both for learning how to create simple LaTeX commands. The resulting rendered math can usually be downloaded or captured and inserted as an image into documents that do not offer native LaTeX support (i.e. copy and paste into Word or PowerPoint).

Take a moment to try the examples above in some other online LaTeX equation editors, like CodeCogs, or QuickLaTeX.

CodeCogs features an interface that allows you to use a typical equation editor interface, allowing you to use symbols that you don't know the LaTeX commands - allowing you to discover new commands. QuickLaTeX supports more complex LaTeX syntax, but requires you to know which commands to use. Both editors are free to use, and allow you to download the rendered math as images.

Using Images from Equation Editors

When you create images using these editors, you can obtain the image by:

  • Downloading the image (for CodeCogs or QuickLaTeX) using the option provided;
  • Right-clicking to download or copy the image (for CodeCogs or QuickLaTeX);
  • Using a screen capture tool to grab the image (for the simple editor on this page, CodeCogs or QuickLaTeX).

Exercise 1: Create a document in a word processor and record each of the LaTeX commands that you have tried. Alongside each command, include an image of the math that the command creates from one of the editors you used in this module. Over time, this document will grow into your very-own "LaTeX Cheat Sheet."

Learn More

Take a look at some of the LaTeX examples on the LaTeX wikibooks page, choose some of them to try either using the editor on this page, CodeCogs, or QuickLaTeX.

Learning Checklist

Before moving on to the next module, take a moment to review the learning checklist.

If there were any items in the checklist that you did not complete, consider reviewing this page again before moving on.


LaTeX/Mathematics. (2019, March 8). Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Retrieved March 16, 2019 from

CodeCogs. (2015). CodeCogs Equation Editor. online software. Retrievied March 16, 2019 from

Holoborodko, P. (2018). QuickLaTeX. online software. Retrievied March 16, 2019 from