This document serves as a complete description of the GNU Emacs Calculator. It works both as an introduction for novices and as a reference for experienced users. While it helps to have some experience with GNU Emacs in order to get the most out of Calc, this manual ought to be readable even if you don’t know or use Emacs regularly.
This manual is divided into three major parts: the “Getting Started” chapter you are reading now, the Calc tutorial, and the Calc reference manual.
If you are in a hurry to use Calc, there is a brief “demonstration” below which illustrates the major features of Calc in just a couple of pages. If you don’t have time to go through the full tutorial, this will show you everything you need to know to begin. See Demonstration of Calc.
The tutorial chapter walks you through the various parts of Calc with lots of hands-on examples and explanations. If you are new to Calc and you have some time, try going through at least the beginning of the tutorial. The tutorial includes about 70 exercises with answers. These exercises give you some guided practice with Calc, as well as pointing out some interesting and unusual ways to use its features.
The reference section discusses Calc in complete depth. You can read the reference from start to finish if you want to learn every aspect of Calc. Or, you can look in the table of contents or the Concept Index to find the parts of the manual that discuss the things you need to know.
Every Calc keyboard command is listed in the Calc Summary, and also in the Key Index. Algebraic functions, M-x commands, and variables also have their own indices.
You can access this manual on-line at any time within Calc by pressing the h i key sequence. Outside of the Calc window, you can press C-x * i to read the manual on-line. From within Calc the command h t will jump directly to the Tutorial; from outside of Calc the command C-x * t will jump to the Tutorial and start Calc if necessary. Pressing h s or C-x * s will take you directly to the Calc Summary. Within Calc, you can also go to the part of the manual describing any Calc key, function, or variable using h k, h f, or h v, respectively. See Help Commands.
The Calc manual can be printed, but because the manual is so large, you
should only make a printed copy if you really need it. To print the
manual, you will need the TeX typesetting program (this is a free
program by Donald Knuth at Stanford University) as well as the
texindex program and texinfo.tex file, both of which can
be obtained from the FSF as part of the
To print the Calc manual in one huge tome, you will need the
source code to this manual, calc.texi, available as part of the
Emacs source. Once you have this file, type texi2dvi calc.texi.
Alternatively, change to the man subdirectory of the Emacs
source distribution, and type make calc.dvi. (Don’t worry if you
get some “overfull box” warnings while TeX runs.)
The result will be a device-independent output file called
calc.dvi, which you must print in whatever way is right
for your system. On many systems, the command is
lpr -d calc.dvi