Recently I have produced two of my research assignments for my History bachelor’s programme with LaTeX. I’ve uploaded both papers along with their sources: Research Seminar 2 paper, Research Seminar 2 paper source and Citizens and Democracy paper, Citizens and Democracy paper source. Both documents are written in the Dutch language, but hopefully anyone who is interested in using LaTeX might learn how to use LaTeX more effectively by looking at the source file and the resulting PDF document. As I expected the learning curve was a bit steep, but at this point I’ve become an experienced user and LaTeX is giving me better results and makes me more productive.
I’ve used some graphics in my documents, they are all vector graphics converted to the PDF format. The tables were created with LaTeX, which can be tricky if they are complex. Unlike what I have seen in the LaTeX files of others, I haven’t used manual line breaks to start new lines, I’ve relied on my text editor to do text wrapping. I don’t understand why anyone would want to insert labour-intensive manual line breaks, can anyone tell me why?
I’ve used the awesome biblatex package for reference management. Without it, it would not have been possible to apply citation styles which are used in the humanities and social sciences. The biblatex package still uses BiBTeX bibliographies as the source for references, but does the formatting of references by itself. The Citizens and Democracy paper uses the APA style, which requires an additional package found here on CTAN. The Research Seminar 2 paper uses a style which is included with the biblatex package, while it does closely resemble the citation style guidelines of my department, it’s not completely similar. I’ll have to figure out how to modify the citation style, which is easier in biblatex when compared to BiBTeX, but still difficult. The Dutch language isn’t supported by biblatex at this moment, but it was easy to make my own translation and I’m in contact with the biblatex developer to get it included by default in a future release.
Both papers use the memoir package, which is also quite useful. For example, it includes functionality for modifying headers without having to use packages like fancyhdr.
Recently I have also been looking into using XeTeX in combination with LaTeX because of the advantages related to using fonts.
Probably the features of LaTeX which I appreciate the most are the automatic hyphenation, the reference management with biblatex and the beautiful PDF documents it can produce.