This text aims to give people interested in getting started with latex a starting point and recommendations for programs and extensions.
The initial learning curve for LaTeX can be steep. Particularly if you want to force LaTeX to format text exactly to you liking, you can loose a lot of time. Once you have useful template, you can concentrate on the content. As a starting point, here is my masterfile. The idea is to copy and customize this, and include your content as separate files. Another approach is a custom document class. However i don't use this any more, because you have to install the class file every time you change machines. I like self-contained document directories better.