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What is the difference between \\ and \tabularnewline? Is it same as the difference between \\ and newline?

Is \tabularnewline preferred over \\ when creating tables?

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Which package (if any) are you using for tabular material? – percusse Oct 23 '12 at 15:01
@percusse I was wondering about the difference after seeing some questions and answers posted here. I tried searching for tabularnewline but it gave me lot of results, but wasn't able to find the difference. – mythealias Oct 23 '12 at 15:11
No problem. As David mentioned, the doublebackslashes are redefined a lot so I was trying to narrow down the focus if it was specifically about one implementation. – percusse Oct 23 '12 at 15:50
up vote 26 down vote accepted

If your tabular contains p-columns, then there is a ambiguity: Does \\ should end a line inside a cell or should it end a tabular row? The use of \newline and \tabularnewline make that clear, the first ends the line in a cell, the latter the row of the table.

See also \arraybackslash of package array that can be used to reset the meaning of \\ to be \tabularnewline, from the documentation:

\arraybackslash: Restore \\ for use in array and tabular environment (after \raggedright etc.).

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+1 Heiko beat me by 30 seconds:-) so the main point is that `\` has many definitions in latex: in tables, in normal text in centering etc it is locally defined to whatever needs doing. – David Carlisle Oct 23 '12 at 15:18
In my limited usage I have always seen \` end tabular row. So is \tabularnewline` for clarity for the user? (If it matters I usually use memoir and article document) – mythealias Oct 23 '12 at 15:53

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