What is AMS-LaTeX?

AMS-LaTeX is a set of LaTeX packages for mathematics, which was developed by the American Mathematical Society so that mathematicians could produce beautiful mathematics in LaTeX, mathematics acceptible for publication in the society's journals.

Originally AMS-LaTeX was separate from LaTeX, but in the new version of LaTeX, called LaTeX2e, introduced 10 years ago, all such separate programs became LaTeX packages. So now AMS-LaTeX is just a set of LaTeX packages.

Why AMS-LaTeX?

If you are using LaTeX for a document that contains math of any complexity, you should be using AMS-LaTeX. Among the wonderful features that all math heads want (quoted from the AMS-LaTeX documentation) are

The AMS-LaTeX people are too polite about the defects of the LaTeX eqnarray environment; eqnarray is so brain-damaged that it is impossible to use it to produce non-ugly mathematics. AMS-LaTeX provides six different replacements to do a variety of jobs, all of which must be done and done poorly by eqnarray when you use plain LaTeX. All six of the AMS-LaTeX replacements work beautifully.

They also don't say enough about the amsthm. It also provides a newtheoremstyle environment that allows you to change the style of theorem environments so that they have the look you want. You can also use different theorem styles for different theorem environments, one style for theorem and corollary, another style for remark, and yet another style for example.

Getting the Documentation.

The documentation can be found on the web at

The LaTeX Companion, 2nd Edition by Mittelbach, Goossens, Braams, Carlisle, and Rowley is a really cool book, having lots of information about all aspects of LaTeX.

Warning: The first edition is seriously out of date about AMS-LaTeX. Use the second edition only.

Using AMS-LaTeX.

AMS-LaTeX is now just a set of LaTeX2e packages. So use \documentclass instead of \documentstyle to get LaTeX2e and use any of the following packages
Defines extra environments for multiline displayed equations, as well as a number of other enhancements for math (includes the amstext, amsbsy, and amsopn packages).
Provides a \text command for typesetting a fragment of text inside a display.
Defines \boldsymbol and \pmb `poor man's bold' commands.
Provides \DeclareMathOperator for defining new `operator names' like \sin and \lim.
Provides a proof environment and extensions for the \newtheorem command.
Provides more descriptive command syntax for integrals and sums.
Provides a CD environment for simple commutative diagrams (no support for diagonal arrows).
Provides certain odds and ends such as \fracwithdelims and \accentedsymbol.
Makes \ref print cross-reference numbers always in an upright/roman font regardless of context.
Loads extra fonts and symbols, including boldface (\mathbf), blackboard boldface (\mathbb), and fractur (\mathfrac).
Loads lots of extra symbols.

So the typical AMS-LaTeX document looks something like

   \usepackage{amsfonts}   % if you want the fonts
   \usepackage{amssymb}    % if you want extra symbols

   Blah, blah, blah (the document).


Undocumented stuff about the newtheoremstyle environment.

The newtheoremstyle environment allows you to define new theoremstyles that can be used with a theoremstyle command to change the style for a theorem environment. For example, thmtest.tex defines a note theoremstyle by
   \newtheoremstyle{note}% name
     {3pt}%      Space above
     {3pt}%      Space below
     {}%         Body font
     {}%         Indent amount (empty = no indent, \parindent = para indent)
     {\itshape}% Thm head font
     {:}%        Punctuation after thm head
     {.5em}%     Space after thm head: " " = normal interword space;
           %       \newline = linebreak
     {}%         Thm head spec (can be left empty, meaning `normal')
defines a note theorem environment that uses this style.

Great! But your humble author found two questions with answers found only in the source code amsthm.dtx.

Putting both together, here's an example of an example environment I use for lecture notes.

     {}%         Body font
     {}%         Indent amount (empty = no indent, \parindent = para indent)
     {\bfseries}% Thm head font
     {}%        Punctuation after thm head
     {\newline}%     Space after thm head (\newline = linebreak)
     {\thmname{#1}\thmnumber{ #2}\thmnote{ #3}}%         Thm head spec

This empty body font argument sets the body in the normal (roman) font. This theorem head spec makes
   \begin{example}[Normal Distributions]
Example 1.1.1 Normal Distributions

Written by Charles Geyer ( Dec 8, 1996. Revised July, 1, 2004.
Comments or corrections welcome.