Regarding the use of TikZ, I am a beginner ..... One can easily judge this by looking at my points (showed next to my username). I am trying to learn these tools to make effective documents.

So far, whatever I have been able to do with my documents has been with the help of the Stack Exchange community. Manuals are very lengthy and reading them gets me nowhere. And whenever I post my question at TeX.SE, the answers usually contain code that works like magic, but which I really don't grasp.

The problem is that many answers contain details that I don't understand. Take, for example, Help required to understand tikz code?. The code some user gave as an answer solved my problem, but I don't understand how it works. Without really understanding, I end up doing copy-paste. With this approach I get through my current problem but this does not make me understand the tools and to do things on my own.

So here is a suggestion I want to make. If the question is posted by someone like me who does not have expertise in LaTeX, it will be really useful if people added comments to their answer's code. This will enable me and other users to understand the solution better and improve our skill set as well.

  • The point is: LaTeX is not easy for a beginner and TikZ is a very special form, such that LaTeX is hardly recognizable. You're asking actually for TikZ explanation rather than for (La)TeX
    – user31729
    Jun 15, 2016 at 17:46
  • I edited title.
    – NAASI
    Jun 15, 2016 at 17:49
  • 23
    It is really instrumental that you go through the first tutorials in the TikZ manual. There is tremendous amount of work put into that manual. We all learned it from that source.
    – percusse
    Jun 15, 2016 at 22:40
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    Don't read the TikZ manual in the sense of sitting down at page 1 and keeping going until you reach the end. Use it. It has an index and you can search the text for commands you don't understand. Or you can try examples or tutorials. Also, start simple and build up. You can't expect to start by drawing something really complicated and not think you'll get frustrated. You want to draw a house? OK. Start by drawing a box. Then draw some little boxes in it for the windows and the door. Don't start with a 5-turretted stately home, diamond windows and a resident cat ... ;)
    – cfr
    Jun 16, 2016 at 1:19
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    The explanations made in the answer would be just the same as in the documentation (maybe a different wording). That would lead to the same information given over and over again.
    – Johannes_B
    Jun 16, 2016 at 6:12
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    If you know French, my advice would be to go through the TikZ pour l'impatient manual. (At least, I personally did appreciated doing it.) It is clear, easy to read, well structured, with a smooth learning curve... and it also give small exercises because we all know that if you read a tutorial, you alway say "ok, I got this", but when it comes to put it into practice, you've already forgot...
    – ebosi
    Jun 16, 2016 at 11:35
  • 2
    I really have no intention of sounding disrespectful, but if you admit manuals are lengthy, why commenting an answer would make things better? Jun 16, 2016 at 16:44
  • 3
    'TikZ pour l'impatient' is worth learning French for, in my humble opinion. Jun 18, 2016 at 2:27
  • You can also try with the VisualTikZ guide. You can read it in english and french.
    – Ignasi
    Jun 20, 2016 at 7:56

1 Answer 1


If you don't understand something in someone's answer to your question, you can ask them to elaborate on their code. Here's what the "add a comment" tooltip says:

enter image description here

If the answerer doesn't clarify to your satisfaction, then you can ask another follow-up question that highlights the specific details you have difficulty understanding, requesting a more formal clarification.

Specific to TikZ, I'd suggest reviewing the PGF manual as well as the minimal introduction to TikZ. It may help you formulate your questions better when requesting clarification of content.

That's a subtle way of saying that you shouldn't just ask: "Explain the following code for me ..." type questions.

Related on TeX.SE:

  • (+1) for the subtle way. I already tried to point this out. The links you gave may help to convince :-).
    – cfr
    Jun 17, 2016 at 0:05
  • Please, add also Tikz pour l'impatient. It's in French, I cannot speak French at all but it very clear.
    – Astrinus
    Jun 27, 2016 at 16:36

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