"LaTeX, pronounced "La-Tec", is a document preparation language
that treats creating many types of document files like constructing
a shell script. LaTeX uses a "What You See is What You Mean"
interface, far removed from the WYSIWYG word processors like Word
and OpenOffice. LaTeX is a programming language, but don't let that
scare you away. Like many things in open source, the learning curve
may be steep, but the view from the top is fantastic.
"Why Bother: Depending on your needs, digging in and learning
LaTeX may or may not be worth your time. I first discovered LaTeX
while taking a algebra in college. I needed to turn in papers with
complicated algorithms and graphs, and spent hours pulling my hair
out trying to line up figures using Word's equation editor. Once I
found LaTeX, my papers and equations were not only beautiful, they
were so well received by the professor that he used them as
examples for the rest of the class."