# What do you call those things you use in LaTeX to format text?

I want many times to ask questions but I don't know what to call those. Are they called tags? Commands? Formatters?

Example:

\example{example}


I know my question is general but that's what the question is for. To get out of generality.

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They are referred to as macro or a command. Is that what you are looking for? And, Welcome to TeX.SE. – Peter Grill Oct 28 '11 at 23:06
@Peter I think yes. I should probably give an example – Pithikos Oct 28 '11 at 23:09

In LaTeX text formatting is done with a macro, also sometimes referred to as a command. These are really just shorthands for a more complicated sequence of commands, and are useful as they are easier to remember, and also help to separate content from formatting.

You can define you own macros via \newcommand, and that will behave similar to the ones that are already built in or loaded via \usepackage commands.

So, in the case of your example:

\example{Derivative}


the \example is the command, and Derivative is a parameter or argument for the macro. So, if the command was defined as, for example:

\newcommand{\example}[1]{\textbf{Example: \Large #1}}


then the above command would produce:

Note that \newcommand, \textbf and \Large are also examples of macros that were used here.

\documentclass{article}
\newcommand{\example}[1]{\textbf{Example: \Large #1}}

\begin{document}
\example{Derivative}
\end{document}


Update: As @Werner/@Martin correctly points out the more formal terminology is control sequence, or primitive for the case where these are defined in the TeX, but in asking questions here either should be fine.

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In fact, the formal name is "command sequence," since they contain a sequence of commands and/or primitives (which are commands themselves). – Werner Oct 28 '11 at 23:21
@Werner: No! I used to think so too, but they are called control sequences. They are called commands by LaTeX, e.g. like in \newcommand. – Martin Scharrer Oct 29 '11 at 0:26
@MartinScharrer: I was probably thinking "control" but wrote down "command"; as you say, I'm so used to \...command control sequences! Thanks for correcting me... – Werner Oct 29 '11 at 0:27