# Comprehensive online manual for LaTeX2e user macros and environments

I find myself sometimes in the position that I need to know the "official" syntax and behavior of LaTeX2e user macros or environments. I'm talking about common things like `minipage`. Usually I find something by doing a Google search for `latex <command>`, e.g. `latex minipage`. There are a couple of online helps in English and German available, but there are mostly incomplete. To stick with the example of `minipage`, most of them do not include the second and third optional argument.

Is there a comprehensive online or PDF manual freely available which explains the full syntax of LaTeX2e user level macros/environments?

Wanted features would be:

• Comprehensive (all arguments, all macros/environments, default values for optional arguments)
• Well organized, so that all macros/environments are quickly found.
• Nicely formatted

I had a look at the LaTeX wikibook and other online sites, as well as `source2e`, but none of them really fulfill the above points. I realize that there might be books which handle these but I'm looking for something digital.

I personally need this because I like to support or emulate such standard macros or environments in my packages, but normal user will find a comprehensive manual also useful.

If there is no such document I'm might add it to my TODO list.

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The 'free' is I guess the issue. You can buy the Guide to LaTeX and The LaTeX Companion as PDF books, but have to pay. –  Joseph Wright Nov 10 '11 at 10:59
@JosephWright: Good point. Note that I'm looking more for a technical reference, not a guide. –  Martin Scharrer Nov 10 '11 at 11:00
I assume you mean something like TeX by Topic in terms of formal specifications? –  Joseph Wright Nov 10 '11 at 11:04
@JosephWright: I mean, no introduction or long explanation required, but the arguments and behavior explained. –  Martin Scharrer Nov 10 '11 at 11:11
There isn't, as far as I know. –  Leo Liu Nov 10 '11 at 14:59
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Perhaps you are looking for something like the (unofficial) »LaTeX2e Reference Manual«. Maybe, maybe not.

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Actually, this looks very promising. I might have seen this already once, but forgot that it existed. –  Martin Scharrer Nov 10 '11 at 11:08
And users may contribute for improving and extending: home.gna.org/latexrefman –  Stefan Kottwitz Nov 10 '11 at 11:56
Yes, this is not comprehensive, but useful enough for most users. –  Leo Liu Nov 10 '11 at 15:01
`texdoc latex2e` is the command line shortcut for this manual –  texenthusiast Nov 29 '12 at 7:39

AFAIK, there isn't such a document. Even the book Guide to LaTeX, or the Appendix H of the book as a reference, is not comprehensive. When I wrote my book on LaTeX, I find that I have to read `source2e` sometimes.

It is difficult to say, what are user macros in LaTeX2e. I think all macros (and some primitives also) in LaTeX2e kernel and standard documents, without a `@` in the name, are user-level. For convinience, `graphics` and some other common packages can be added into the list.

Some examples you can find in `source2e`:

• Is `\DeclareMathVersion` a user-level macro? It is described in `fntguide` but I think almost all users and most package writers would never use it.
• What about `\ooalign`? It is come from Plain TeX and is mainly used for compound symbols.
• And how do you think about the symbol `\relbar`? You can find it in the definition of `\longrightarrow`, but why should I use it myself?

As Thorsten Donig said, the document `latex2e-help-texinfo` is a good refernece. There are some similar ones:

• `latex2e-help-texinfo`: LaTeX: Structured documents for TeX --- unofficial LaTeX reference manual.

It is distributed with MiKTeX and TeX Live. A good reference for common users.

• `tex-references`: References for TeX and Friends.

Available on CTAN. A HTML reference for Plain TeX, LaTeX, and some others. Very useful.

• `LatexHelpBook`: LaTeX Help e-Book in HTML and CHM format.

Available on CTAN. Also distributed with WinEdt editor.

It is a collection of `latex2e-help-info`, `usrguide`, `clsguide`, `fntguide`, `cfgguide`, `modguide`, UK-FAQ, The TeX Catalogue, ... Quite a lot of documents in one file, but badly selected. Personally I don't like it.

maybe more...

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I've always found Help on LaTeX Commands to be useful as a quick reference. Of course it's all `html` based, so it doesn't meet your criterion of being a nicely formatted PDF. But I'll leave the answer up for others who might not have such requirements.
Thanks, that was one of the online sources I mentioned in my question. It is not bad, but not complete. For example not all possible arguments of `minipage` are explained: giss.nasa.gov/tools/latex/ltx-267.html –  Martin Scharrer Nov 10 '11 at 15:51