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I want to typeset a piece of code containing line breaks. New lines should indent to a specified point in the previous line. Here is a monospaced example to illustrate what I mean. Notice how 'case' and 'of' line up below, as well as 'let' and 'in':

swap : forall a, b. Tuple a b -> Tuple b a
swap a b x = case x
             of tuple a b y z. let x' = tuple b a z y
                               in x'

The code I want to typeset is not monospaced, so I can't just use a verbatim environment to get what I want. The actual LaTeX of the first line, for instance, is

\mathsf{swap} : \forall\alpha,\beta.\;\mathsf{Tuple}\;\alpha\;\beta\to\mathsf{Tuple}\;\beta\;\alpha

How can I align some text to a specific point in the previous line?

share|improve this question
Could you use a tabular? – cmhughes Feb 7 '12 at 22:03
up vote 2 down vote accepted

With tabbing one can set dynamically the tab stops:

$\mathsf{swap} : \forall\alpha,\beta.\;\mathsf{Tuple}\;\alpha\;\beta\to\mathsf{Tuple}\;\beta\;\alpha$\\

With \= one sets a tab stop valid from that line onwards, with \> we go to the next tab stop.

enter image description here

It's also possible to cancel tab stops previously set by using again \=.

share|improve this answer

There are various ways to accomplish this:

  1. You can use \phantom{<arg>} to leave as much space as taken up by <arg>. So in this case you would do:

    \phantom{swap a b x = }of tuple a b y z. let x' = tuple b a z y

    \phantom{swap a b x = of tuple a b y z. }in x'

    \phantom{} will take up as much horizontal and vertical space as its parameter. There is also a \vphantom{} which takes up as much vertical space as its parameter but zero horizontal space, and a corresponding \hphantom{} that takes up as much horizontal space as its parameter but zero vertical space.

  2. As @egreg commented, you can also use the tabbing environment as shown below.

  3. As @cmhughes commented you could also use tabular.

Each of these yield similar results:

enter image description here


  • Although the tab spaces are hard coded below, they could easily be computed using \widthof{} available with the calc package. Or better still, see solution provided by egreg which shows how to use tabbing properly.
  • Since a MWE was not provided, I guessed at the definitions.



$\Swap : \forall\alpha,\beta.\;\Tuple\;\alpha\;\beta\to\Tuple\;\beta\;\alpha$

$\Swap : \alpha,\beta x = \Case\; x$

$\phantom{\Swap : \alpha,\beta x ={}}of \;\Tuple\; \alpha \beta y z. \;\Let\; x' = \Tuple\; \beta \alpha z y$

$\phantom{\Swap : \alpha,\beta x = of \;\Tuple\; \alpha \beta y z.}\in x'$

\>$\Swap : \forall\alpha,\beta.\;\Tuple\;\alpha\;\beta\to\Tuple\;\beta\;\alpha$\\

\>$\Swap : \alpha,\beta x ={}$\>$\Case\; x$\\

\>\>$of \;\Tuple\; \alpha \beta y z. \;\Let\; x' = \Tuple\; \beta \alpha z y$\\

\>\>\>$\in x'$

\multicolumn{3}{l}{$\Swap : \forall\alpha,\beta.\;\Tuple\;\alpha\;\beta\to\Tuple\;\beta\;\alpha$}\\
$\Swap : \alpha,\beta x ={}$&$\Case\; x$\\
&$of \;\Tuple\; \alpha \beta y z. \;$&$\Let\; x' = \Tuple\; \beta \alpha z y$\\
&&$\in x'$
share|improve this answer
\begin{tabbing}...\end{tabbing}? – egreg Feb 7 '12 at 22:02
@egreg: Well, ummm..... yes that would be simpler, but then how would I be known for providing the overkill solution? :-) I never use that environment so it never occurs to me. – Peter Grill Feb 7 '12 at 22:15
Neither do I use it. :) I can delete my comment to cover your tracks. :) – egreg Feb 7 '12 at 22:27
@egreg: Sure. Might as well... I use \phantom so often, perhaps that means I am doing things wrong (well at least not in the most efficient way). – Peter Grill Feb 7 '12 at 22:41
Your solution with tabbing could be much improved. :) – egreg Feb 7 '12 at 23:02

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