First of all: get the packages! To compile any LaTeX document you will need to have a TeX distribution installed. On OS X my distribution of choice is MacTeX. You can get the distribution from the web site or from any of its mirrors.

Just for the sake of completeness: For processing, number crunching, or algorithmic prototyping I like to use either Python or Matlab (sometimes also C++), whatever fits best or where I have the right tools at hand.

For my statistics stuff as well as the graphs, i. e., the visual data presentation, I like to use The R Statistical Project. As a Home Brew user, you can install R simply using the following command.

brew install R

As a convenient R GUI I recommend RStudio, which integrates the standard R workflow with console, script editor, plot and workspace tiles nicely. You need to install it separately from the R base distribution and home brew will tell you, how to connect RStudio to R easily.

Then, get Skim. Skim is a PDF viewer like Acrobat Reader or Preview, but observes the opened PDF file for changes and provides further functionality like PDFSync (where you can Cmd-Shift-Click into the document to redirect the editor to the appropriate line in the TeX file).

Now, get your favorite editor, if you don’t have it yet. Some examples for what it might be:

If you are going to write a long thesis you might want to checkout Scrivener additionally. With Scrivener you can elegantly create LaTeX documents using MMD3 (Multi Markdown 3) and compile them into LaTeX and the PDF. However, this requires a least basic understanding of LaTeX, Markdown and Scrivener itself. Hence, I postpone this topic now to cover it in a later section of this document.

Read on to go into further details!