Installing LaTeX

An important notice to all LaTeX users

Rensselaer's current LaTeX thesis style sheets, templates, and macros were last updated for TeXLive 2007 and do not necessarily work for more recent versions of TeXLive. Regrettably, the person who developed, tested, and maintained these TeX templates has since retired.

Students may still download TexLive for free and use the software under the Linux, Windows, or Macintosh operating systems. However, there is no consulting support available for this application.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause.

Windows | Macintosh | UNIX systems

You can install TeX/LaTeX on just about any platform. The TeX Users Group (TUG) provides TeXLive, a comprehensive TeX system with binaries for Windows and most flavors of Unix, including GNU/Linux. TeXLive also includes the popular MacTeX distribution and ProTeXt, an alternative Windows implementation based on MikTeX (see below). TeXLive is distributed each year on DVD and CD by the TeX Users Group to its members. For more information on TeXLive, see

Note that in addition to the TeX/LaTeX distribution, you will need an editor/shell. The sections below mention recommended editors for each platform.


  • TeXLive: Because the download is so large, Rensselaer has made TeXLive for Windows available on RCS space.
    Start by viewing the short Readme file, then install the software following the detailed installation instructions. It's helpful to print this document for easier use when installing. The instructions include information on WinShell and WinEdt, both highly recommended editor/shells.
  • MikTeX: This popular alternative to TeXLive is available at It’s not quite as inclusive as TeXLive, but has a nice “package manager” that makes it easy to install new packages.
    An easy and highly recommended way to install MikTeX is to use ProTeXt, which guides the installation via an explanatory pdf file with clickable links. It can be freely downloaded (in about 45 min) from Although ProTeXt includes a link to download the editor/shell TeXnicCenter, you can use other editors if you prefer. The RPI documentation for installing TeXLive on Windows contains instructions for installing and configuring both WinEdt and WinShell. ProTeXt is also included in recent TeXLive distributions.


The highly recommended MacTeX distribution is a complete, easy-to-install TeX distribution for Mac OS X that requires Mac OS 10.3 or higher. It includes an excellent editor/shell called TeXShop. Information and installation instructions are at MacTeX is also included in recent TeXLive distributions.

UNIX systems

Linux and other UNIX-like systems usually have TeX/LaTeX as an installation option, so you may already have it installed. To check if it’s on your system, just type latex at a command prompt. If it’s not there, you may be able to install it easily using your system administration package management tool. Another excellent option is TeXLive, which is likely to be more up-to-date than the version that came with your system. Be aware that the TeXLive download is very large. You may prefer to join TUG ( and receive it on DVD and CD. You can use any plain text editor on UNIX, although Emacs is usually recommended.