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LaTeX and Overleaf

LaTeX (pronounced LAH-tekh or LAY-tekh) is the de facto standard software to write technical and scientific reports containing mathematical equations or programming code.

You can use LaTeX to produce high-quality written work that looks better than anything produced in Word. It also helps you keep track of references to equation numbers, bibliographies, and tables of contents automatically. It can handle graphics too. There are two options to get started...


To get started with LaTeX without installing any software, the Library, together with the School of Mathematics and the Faculty of Engineering, offer an Overleaf Professional account to all staff and students. Overleaf is an easy-to-use, online, collaborative LaTeX editor. You can sign up for your free account using your UoB email address.

Overleaf Professional features 

  • Online collaboration in LaTeX or Rich Text within one editing platform - easily switch between modes. 
  • Real-time collaboration in your browser for sharing and editing projects with authorised users. 
  • Unlimited number of invited collaborators (and link sharing) including external collaborators, with advanced access control for protected projects. 
  • Preview documents as a PDF while writing.  
  • Full history view of your projects – see all changes made for the entire life of the project, with the ability to revert to any past change. 
  • Access to hundreds of journal templates. 
  • Integrated submission systems to dozens of publishing partners.  
  • Two-way sync with Dropbox and GitHub. 
  • Reference management tool sync (BibTeX) and advanced reference search. 

Sign up for your account at the University of Bristol resource portal using your University of Bristol email.



If you would like to write and compile your LaTeX documents from your own machine, rather than from a Cloud-based software like Overleaf, you will need to install:

  1. A TeX distribution (this contains all the necessary files to be able to compile the .tex file and produce the output)
  2. A LaTeX editor (this is the software which you use to write and compile the .tex file).

Here are some instructions on what to do depending on your machine:

  • If you have Windows: you can install the TeXLive or MiKTeX distribution, which includes the TeXworks editor. You may also want to install the TexMaker editor, or the TeXStudio editor, which are more advanced editors than TeXworks.
  • If you have Mac: you can install the MacTex distribution (the full one, NOT the basic one), which includes the TexShop editor. You may also want to install the TexMaker editor, or the TeXStudio editor, which are more advanced editors than TeXShop.
  • If you have Linux: you can install the TexLive distribution, which contains the TeXworks editor, through your repository manager (Synaptic or other). You may also want to install the more advanced Texmaker or the TexStudio editor.


Further sources of LaTeX help and support...

Introduction to Overleaf

Overleaf webinars

Learn Latex (Desktop installation)

Using LaTeX and Reference Managers

BibTeX is commonly used with LaTeX to help organise references and create a bibliography. Each reference in the bibliography file (.bib) is formatted with a certain structure and is given a 'key' by which you refer to in the source .tex file. All major reference managers work with BibTeX.

Books on LaTeX and mathematical writing