Very often I read a question like

How can I set something in LyX?

Every time I think why do you use LyX? I know the biggest advantage is WYSIWYG. But people using LyX normally are not able to edit the code or to set special wishes.

In this relation I think we shouldn't recommend LyX instead we should prefer an editor like TeXStudio/TeXMaker etc.

What do you think?

The most popular editors are listed in the post LaTeX Editors/IDEs

  • 13
    Do we ever recommend an editor in a way that would make a "policy" like this necessary? (On the main site, a question like "What are advantages and disadvantages of LyX?" or "What are reasons for using LyX?" might be interesting though.)
    – doncherry
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 18:41
  • Do you mean that we should recommend people which have issues with LyX to use a different "real" LaTeX editor instead? As your question is written now it looks like we should avoid "You should use LyX" statements, instead you might actually mean "Do not use LyX, but XYZ". Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 8:19
  • 2
    Whilst I agree with doncherry and Martin T, I think it's very good to bring this up. In some cases, I think that we do have a "duty of care" to recommend one thing over another, but in the case of editors I think Martin T's approach is right. Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 11:13
  • @MartinScharrer: My intention was/is to say: "Do not use LyX, but XYZ" ... In this way it is easier to understand LaTeX. Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 17:12
  • 1
    @MarcoDaniel attention: LyX is not a WYSIWYG editor! Commented Jun 30, 2012 at 7:33
  • 2
    However, LyX is not exactly an WYSIWYG editor! And of course, not even exactly an LaTeX editor. Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 11:18

4 Answers 4


I don't think it's up to us to tell people what editor they should use, or to refuse giving advice if they don't agree with our choice. For new users, and especially non-programmers, LyX does have certain advantages, namely being WYSIWYG, and the more familiar formatting and editing environment similar to e.g. {Open|Libre}Office or older versions of MS Word.

Think of it as training wheels - it can get you started directly out-of-the-box, but you will soon have to outgrow them if you want to perform a tricky maneuver or compete with the big boys.

If you think that a user is on the level when a new editor makes more sense -- by all means, do recommend it gently, and when answering, mention that this problem doesn't exist in editor X. But chastising people for not using a certain "blessed" toolset will not make them happy, especially when they are comfortable with their choice or have a valid reason to use Lyx.

People should be free to shoot themselves in the foot, if they so choose.

  • 9
    +1 Despite the fact that we have the urge to scream "Don't use LyX" whenever a LyX question appears.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 17:03
  • 5
    People should be free to shoot themselves in the foot, if they so choose. That is the important sentence ;-) Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 17:14
  • You might soon catch me commenting "DON'T SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT!" on various posts ... :)
    – doncherry
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 20:14
  • 1
    @Doncherry Just so that anyone doesn't get any ideas, you are joking. We should resist the urge to tell LyX users to switch. They might come to that conclusion themselves after finding that certain things are harder to do in LyX. It's a shame there aren't more LyX users here on the site. There do seem to be many who have contributed to the LyX Wiki.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 22:50
  • @AlanMunn: Confirmed.
    – doncherry
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 23:09
  • However, people are not free to shoot in the foot; not in America at least. Ever heard of a guy named Plaxico Burress?
    – Sony
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 22:15
  • However, LyX is not exactly an WYSIWYG editor! Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 11:15
  • I went along exactly the road described here, from LyX to frustration with LyX, and then to tex-latex. So LyX can be the gateway to tex-latex addiction.
    – A Feldman
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 14:47

IMHO it is very important to not consider LyX as an "editor" for LaTeX. It is text system in its own respect that just happens to use LaTeX as back end. Thereby LyX profits from many LaTeX benefits. It also provides (via ERT, layouts and modules) an interface to directly interact with the LaTeX backend. So the connection to the topics discussed on tex.se is not the front end (the editor), but the back end of LyX.

So I have a feeling that the "question behind" is: Do we want to consider tex.se as a forum for LyX-related questions or not.

Given that there is a lyx tag I, would say LyX-related questions are considered as perfectly okay. In this case they should be answered as that. (Even though at times I thought that the very helpful and responsive lyx-users mailing list would be a more adequate source for advice.)

  • 8
    I'm not sure that there was a hidden question in Marco's original post, but you raise a good point. I think that it would be good to attract more LyX users here as well, since most of us are not familiar with it, and we may tend to give more negative answers than is appropriate. But I don't think anyone thinks that LyX is off-topic here.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 22:47
  • @AlanMunn For good or for bad, I think there are and will be people thinking LyX is off-topic. Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 11:19

To begin by arguing with Daniel, there are use cases for Lyx, e.g., my (unanswered) Can Lyx syntax files override document class defaults?, and problems arising when using Lyx, e.g., Dave Jarvis' Create new paragraph style in LyX, which show Lyx to be a citizen in the land of Latex, not just a tourist.

Furthermore, debugging even WYSIWYG Lyx problems quite often depends on Latex knowledge, e.g., LyX enumeration style from numbers to letters.

So I do not think that we should deprecate Lyx. What we should do is encourage Lyx users to learn about Latex, since it will help them to use this tool better, and it may make attractive the option most of us prefer, of using Latex (or Context, or Plain Tex, OWHY) directly.

I should say, I have often used ERT boxes in Lyx to test small bits of Latex code for answers I provided here. For some reason obscure even to me, I like organising snippets of Latex code in this way.


As someone who is new to LyX and completely new to Latex I couldn't agree more with Daniel. But I also agree with Charles Stewart. The point is rather than these things being mutually exclusive they are actually interdependant or mutally supporting.

I write technical training manuals which are used both in the classroom and as a reference afterwards. When writing a new course we have to identify prioritize and clarify lots of interelated areas; technical content, scope, levels of detail, learning objectives, skills objectives, presentation, clarity, conciseness/economy, consolidating practicals, course timings, classroom environment, technical build etc etc. All of these issues need to be reflected in the final document.

I'm sure nobody is going to suggest one would write this off the top of their head directly in LaTeX. Our experience suggests that to develop the basic structure of the course/manual a good outliner is absolutely essential as a minimum. A mind mapping tool can also be very useful. LyX has a pretty good Outliner

Once you have the basic outline structure you have to develop the subsections and bullet points into paragraphs, pages, section and chapters. For this you need the basic document formating tools which LyX also has.

However while we're developing the 'text' component of the manual we also have to think about how the content will be presented live in the classroom. Hence we design some of the diagrams for the slides early in the process and write the text content around the slide content. Consequently the slide/graphic development proceeds hand in hand with the textual content. LyX has great (LaTeX) tools for both text and slide development.

Finally we proof and adjust the content, length, layout and graphics of the document. Here the LaTeX underpinning of LyX really comes into it's own.

A single tool which allows one to progress from high level general outline down to detailed print layout and which takes care of much of the details for you is a really powerful concept.

We simply wouldn't consider using LaTeX by itself to develop our manauls simply because it is too low level for us. Nor would we consider using LyX if it didn't have the LaTeX underpinning. Although we feel that the WYSIWYM is a better paradigm than WYSIWYG, LyX without LaTeX would not offer enough for us to migrate from using two tools; Word and Impress to using one tool; LyX.

Is LyX a LaTeX editor? Probably not but who cares! Many people probably don't use a LaTeX editor because they like writing LaTeX but because they want the great quality and control it offers. It's the great output that matters and the time and effort it takes to achieve it. Any tool that makes that process easier for a given use case is to be praised and recommended.

  • if you try to do something slightly complex, your view on LyX will change drastically though.
    – percusse
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:17
  • If you change the use case you obviously impact the tool selection. I was under the impression that a lot of detailed issues could be dealt with via LaTeX code blocks. But I am new as I said. I'm also evaluating Scribus in combination with a Latex editor. My point against Latex editors in general is simply that I see them as low level tools. This is not a negative it simply scopes their use case for me. Indeed I'm looking for one to use in combination with Scribus. I'm basically look for a way to combine high level document design with LaTeX. Any suggestion welcome,
    – charlie101
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 0:43

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