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What do the toc related commands \@mkboth and \markboth do?

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It is mostly the same as \markboth, the kernel docs suggest class and package writers sometimes use \@mkboth instead as then certain packages can redefine it to do nothing. See texdoc source2e – daleif Aug 30 '14 at 15:26
Fair enough. I now edited the question to ask for \markboth as well. – Mappi Aug 30 '14 at 15:36

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Here is the definition of \markboth from the LaTeX kernel:

    \let\label\relax \let\index\relax \let\glossary\relax
    \unrestored@protected@xdef\@themark {{#1}{#2}}%
    \@temptokena \expandafter{\@themark}%

It takes two arguments, designed to aid in the setting of the headers in twoside mode - the first is set as the left page header, while the second ends up in the right page header.

In contrast, \@mkboth is used as an internal kernel tool and may take on multiple functions. From source2e (section 65.3 marking conventions, p 310):

Commands like \tableofcontents that should set the marks in some page styles use a \@mkboth command, which is \let by the pagestyle command (\ps@...) to \markboth for setting the heading or to \@gobbletwo to do nothing.

For example, the empty page style (in latex.ltx) sets


while the headings page style (in article.cls) sets

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Are \markboth and \@mkboth thus only intended to be used with twoside option? – Mappi Aug 30 '14 at 17:41
@Mappi: No. Their effect will depend on the twoside option, but you can use them in both. – Werner Aug 30 '14 at 17:47

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