A Texinfo file can be formatted and typeset as a printed book or manual. To do this, you need TeX, a powerful, sophisticated typesetting program written by Donald Knuth.(3)
A Texinfo-based book is similar to any other typeset, printed work: it can have a title page, copyright page, table of contents, and preface, as well as chapters, numbered or unnumbered sections and subsections, page headers, cross references, footnotes, and indices.
You can use Texinfo to write a book without ever having the intention of converting it into on-line information. You can use Texinfo for writing a printed novel, and even to write a printed memo, although this latter application is not recommended since electronic mail is so much easier.
TeX is a general purpose typesetting program. Texinfo provides a file called `texinfo.tex' that contains information (definitions or macros) that TeX uses when it typesets a Texinfo file. (`texinfo.tex' tells TeX how to convert the Texinfo @-commands to TeX commands, which TeX can then process to create the typeset document.) `texinfo.tex' contains the specifications for printing a document.
Most often, documents are printed on 8.5 inch by 11 inch
pages (216mm by 280mm; this is the default size), but you
can also print for 7 inch by 9.25 inch pages (178mm by
@smallbook size) or on European A4 size paper
@afourpaper). (See section Printing "Small" Books.
Also, see section Printing on A4 Paper.)
By changing the parameters in `texinfo.tex', you can change the size of the printed document. In addition, you can change the style in which the printed document is formatted; for example, you can change the sizes and fonts used, the amount of indentation for each paragraph, the degree to which words are hyphenated, and the like. By changing the specifications, you can make a book look dignified, old and serious, or light-hearted, young and cheery.
TeX is freely distributable. It is written in a dialect of Pascal called WEB and can be compiled either in Pascal or (by using a conversion program that comes with the TeX distribution) in C. (See section `TeX Mode' in The GNU Emacs Manual, for information about TeX.)
TeX is very powerful and has a great many features. Because a Texinfo file must be able to present information both on a character-only terminal in Info form and in a typeset book, the formatting commands that Texinfo supports are necessarily limited.
See section How to Obtain TeX.