For the most part, I prefer to knit my socks from the leg down to the toe. Three of the most common methods for shaping the toe in leg down socks are short row toes, star toes (my favorite) and paired decrease toes.
The basic idea for paired decrease toes is that the shape is created by decreasing two stitches (hence the name "paired") on each side of the foot. Usually the paired decreases occur every other round until half of the original number of stitches remain and then every round until 8-12 stitches remain. Finally, you close the toe with the Kitchener stitch.
Four examples of paired decreasesA decrease stitch is made on each side of the center of the swatch.
Four banded, paired decreasesSome knitters prefer a banded, paired decrease, especially when knitting socks for thicker feet. Adding two stitches between the decreases creates a nicely defined band.
Now let's take a closer look at the different types of decreases you can use. There are four decrease stitches you should be familiar with.
k2tog (slants right) - that simply means knit 2 stitches together
ssk (slants left) - slip two stitches individually knitwise, insert the left needle through the front of both stitches and knit them together
skp (slants left) - slip one stitch knitwise, knit one stitch, pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch
ksno or ksp (slants right) - knit one stitch, return the stitch to the left needle, pass the next stitch over the knit stitch, slip the knit stitch back to the right needle
Combining the different decreases creates a slightly different effect. For each of my swatches I made a paired decrease on the right side rows and worked the wrong side rows even (with no decreases) The swatches on the right of each example are banded, so there are two stitches between the decreases.