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I have the following LaTeX code:







and it produces the following PDF:

enter image description here

I want the definition of the item (in this case the "bar" and the "bang") to be on a separate line from the item (eg the "foo" and the "baz").

However this is part of a system that autogenerates documention, so I can't change the source code. I can put style things in the header of each documention, so I need some sort of LaTeX command that will make all definition list (in LaTeX speak, a "descripition list") go onto a new line.

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migrated from Nov 20 '11 at 15:33

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5 Answers 5

up vote 69 down vote accepted

You can do that with a \hfill, and no extra package or multiple lines of code are needed :)

  \item[First] \hfill \\
  The first item
  \item[Second] \hfill \\
  The second item
  \item[Third] \hfill \\
  The third etc \ldots

Also contributed here:

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This does not work as incorporated that in my dissertation. Currently, looking for other ways for it to work. – user28251 Nov 15 at 23:52

Will Robertson's answer can affect all the description environments in the entire document. To apply the desired setting to a particular description, you may use [style=nextline] appended to \begin{description}


   \item[foo] bar
   \item[baz] bang

This will apply your style only to that particular description. Other descriptions will work with default behavior.

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It is worth noting that this does not work if your key fits within the margins. Excerpt from the enumitem Manual: nextline: if the label does not fit in the margin, the text continues in the next line. I have found this to be less than four characters. \item [Red] This field is mandatory. I assume this is a space-saver mechanism, but I do not think it is aesthetic. I would be interested in suppressing this behavior. – macmadness86 Aug 20 at 15:38

If you are using enumitem, the correct way to set the default style is like this:

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This appears to be the most elegant solution. – Evgeni Sergeev Jul 26 '13 at 3:25
I have to say, the enumitem documentation does a poor job of explaining this behaviour: "nextline: if the label does not fit in the margin, the text continues in the next line" I read this and disregarded it because I wanted a line break regardless of the label width. Well, good thing I found your answer, thanks! – Christian Apr 16 '14 at 21:18

With this the label of the first level (of description environment) is aligned with the rest of the text and description texts are aligned with labels. I hope this is about what you want.

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You could try something like


but a little more massaging is needed with the values of labelindent, etc., to avoid overfull boxes. To first order, however, this gives you the output you're looking for.

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this causes overfull hbox errors, you should use style=nextline – jterrace Sep 8 '12 at 20:44

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