The LATEX typesetting system is similar to other markup languages such as XML, which is used in many types of documents (including the one you are reading), or HTML, which is used for web pages. The general idea behind markup languages is to have special keywords, called tags, that tell a program (a word processor, a web browser, or the LATEX compiler) how the text enclosed within the tags is to be interpreted. Kile offers a number of such tags in the LaTeX menu in the menu bar.

While we will try to give you a good idea of what LATEX is, this document is, of course, not The Definitive Book on LATEX. If you want to learn LATEX in depth, you may want to borrow a specialized book from your local library.

As with any other markup language, LATEX documents contain a preamble, which defines global properties, such as paper size, page numbering, dimensions of the text on the page, and a document body, which contains the text of the document. The preamble is composed at least of the \documentclass command. It precedes the document body, which starts with the command \begin{document} and is concluded with the command \end{document}.