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I use the label command to get a) and b) next to my pictures. AucTeX claims these are all duplicate global labels. I guess I misunderstood the subfigure.

% later in the document

Was it a mistake to annotate with label?

Please do not answer with alternatives for subfigure. When I start my next document I will try something different, but I have to fix it this time.

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You mean that for each figure with a subfigure you always start with \label{a} then \label{b} and so on? – hpesoj626 Dec 16 '12 at 21:35
up vote 4 down vote accepted

\label does not produce a visible label it is the internal key (identifier) a symbolic name for the figure so that you can cross reference it from elsewhere in the document with ref{a} . \ref will generate the actual figure number as used by the figure labeled a. Clearly this only works if there is only one such figure.

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