Cartoon where the "use package" command holds a package tied in a bow.

What is a package?

Packages bring additional functions to LaTeX, such as expanded formatting options or different sets of symbols.

Overleaf supports a wide range of common packages. Some which you may find useful include:

  • amsmath provides features for typing math equations and expressions. This one will be essential for this lesson.

  • multicol allows you to format multiple columns of text on a page.

  • graphicx allows you to embed graphics.

Packages are added with the command \usepackage{} in the preamble.

More packages

CTAN (Comprehensive TeX Archive Network) hosts an enormous list of packages.

Anyone can make one, and as a result packages have been devised for many niche uses. You can find a number of packages devoted to typesetting recipes, ones which let you add pictures like outlines of European countries, and even one that puts real hats on variables.

Be warned, however, that many of these specialized packages would need to be installed on your own computer, and cannot be used on Overleaf. As you continue to use LaTeX, you may explore more packages which interest you.

Exercise 2.3.1

Add the package amsmath to your project. Then, compile the preview.

Solution 2.3.1

You should have added the command


to the preamble.

Since there is no math in your document yet, there should be no visible change. However, if the command is typed incorrectly, the preview will not compile. If this is the case, be sure to double-check your spelling.

Now that we've gone over the basics of LaTeX, it's time to start actually adding content to our document. We will start with typesetting text.